Friday, May 07, 2010

The Second Council of Lyons on the Crusades

Ecumenical Council XIV (concerning the union of the Greeks and the Crusades)

Constitution I (Zelus Fidei), On the Purpose of the Council.

"Zeal for the faith, fervent devotion and compassionate love ought to rouse the hearts of the faithful, so that all who glory in the name of Christian grieved to the heart by the insult to their redeemer, should rise vigorously and openly in defence of the holy Land and support for God's cause. Who, filled with the light of the true faith and thinking over with filial affection the marvellous favours conferred on the human race by our saviour in the holy Land, would not burn with devotion and charity, and sorrow deeply with that holy Land, portion of the Lord's inheritance ? Whose heart will not soften with compassion for her, from so many proofs of love given in that land by our creator? Alas! the very land in which the Lord deigned to work our salvation and which, in order to redeem humanity by payment of his death, he has consecrated by his own blood, has been boldly attacked and occupied over a long period by the impious enemies of the christian name, the blasphemous and faithless Saracens. They not only rashly retain their conquest, but lay it waste without fear. They slaughter savagely the christian people there to the greater offence of the creator, to the outrage and sorrow of all who profess the catholic faith. "Where is the God of the Christians?" is the Saracens' constant reproach, as they taunt them. Such scandals, which neither mind can fully conceive nor tongue tell, inflamed our heart and roused our courage so that we who from experience overseas have not only heard of those events but have looked with our eyes and touched with our hands, might rise to avenge, as far as we can, the insult to the crucified one. Our help will come from those afire with zeal of faith and devotion. Because the liberation of the holy Land should concern all who profess the catholic faith, we convoked a council, so that after consultation with prelates, kings, princes and other prudent men, we might decide and ordain in Christ the means for liberating the holy Land. We also proposed to lead back the Greek peoples to the unity of the church; proudly striving to divide in some way the Lord's seamless tunic, they withdrew from devotion and obedience to the apostolic see. We purposed also a reform of morals, which have become corrupt owing to the sins of both clergy and people. In everything we have mentioned he to whom nothing is impossible will direct our acts and counsels; when he wills, he makes what is difficult easy, and levelling by his power the crooked ways, makes straight the rough going. Indeed, in order the more readily to effect our plans, having regard to the risks from wars and dangers of journeys for those whom we judged should be summoned to the council, we did not spare ourself and our brothers but rather sought hardships so that we might arrange rest for others. We came to the city of Lyons with our brothers and curia, believing that in this place those summoned to the council might meet with less exertion and expense. We came undertaking various dangers and troubles, running many risks, to where all those summoned to the council were assembled, either in person or through suitable representatives. We held frequent consultations with them about help for the holy Land, and they, zealous to avenge the insult to the Saviour, thought out the best ways to succour the said Land and gave, as was their duty, advice and insight.

Having listened to their advice, we rightly commend their resolutions and praiseworthy enthusiasm for the liberation of that Land. ...

We therefore, trusting in the mercy of almighty God and in the authority of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, do grant, by the power of binding and loosing that God has conferred upon us, albeit unworthy, unto all those who undertake this work of crossing the sea to aid the holy Land, in person and at their own expense, full pardon for their sins about which they are truly and heartily contrite and have spoken in confession, and we promise them an increase of eternal life at the recompensing of the just. To those who do not go there in person but send suitable men at their own expense, according to their means and status, and likewise to those who go in person but at others' expense, we grant full pardon for their sins. We wish to grant to share in this remission, according to the nature of their help and the intensity of their devotion, all who shall contribute suitably from their goods to the aid of the said Land, or who give useful advice and help regarding the above, and all who make available their own ships for the help of the holy Land or who undertake to build ships for this purpose. Finally, this dutiful and holy general synod imparts the benefit of its prayers and blessings to all who piously set out on this enterprise in order that it may contribute to their salvation. '.

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