In the year 1095, Pope Urban II ordered the first invasion of Israel, calling on all the Christians of Europe to physically take back the Promised Land by force. He famously shouted, concerning their reclaiming of Jerusalem from the Muslim hordes, “Deus vult!” or “God wills it!” Thus would begin the first of seven military invasions over the next 200 years known as the Crusades. You can find that speech here.
Here’s an except of Pope Urban II’s remarks about Jerusalem…
From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians, an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. The kingdom of the Greeks is now dismembered by them and deprived of territory so vast in extent that it can not be traversed in a march of two months. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength to humble the hairy scalp of those who resist you.
So then, because of the “accursed race” and “race utterly alienated from God” (the Arabs), Pope Urban II said it was the duty of western Christians to help their eastern counterparts take back Jerusalem from the Persians.
Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump announced, “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital city, Trump announced that the world’s (arguably) greatest superpower recognized Jerusalem as a city belonging to Israel, and not a city belonging to the non-sovereign territory known fallaciously as “Palestine.”
The Pope – along with most world leaders – denounced Trump’s decision to specify that Jerusalem belonged to Israel and not to Palestine. Pope Francis said…
“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days,” Francis said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican. “And at the same time, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”
“Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace.”
Pope Francis heartily disagrees with Pope Urban II. For the Roman Catholic Church in 1095, Jerusalem belonged neither to Jews nor Muslims. Today, the Pope says the city belongs equally to all three religions. Before Trump made the decision official, the Pope said on Tuesday, “[I hope] wisdom and prudence prevail, in order to avoid adding new elements of tension to a global panorama that is already convulsed and marked by so many and cruel conflicts.”
Conflicts like…the Crusades, maybe?
According to press reports, the Pope made his contrary remarks after meeting privately with Palestinian leaders with whom he regularly has interfaith dialogue.