Some folks seem to find relying on councils a comfort. For these folks, there are some inconvenient facts that they must face. This post is the eighteenth in what has become a multi-part series.
Fifth Lateran Council (1512-17) - Promotion of Religious Wars in 16th Century
It is widely held in Catholicism today that John Paul II acknowledged the religious wars of the past were a mistake. What is an inconvenient truth for such folks is that these wars were, even to at least the 16th century, promoted by the Roman church. Those who count there as being 21 ecumenical councils consider the Fifth Lateran Council to be the 18th Ecumenical Council.
The council decreed:
We decree, with the approval of the sacred council, that the said campaign against the infidels is to be undertaken and carried through. Zeal for the faith prompts us to this. It has been so often proposed and promised by us and our predecessor Julius in the sessions referred to, when the business of the council was being explained. On several occasions it was communicated to, and discussed with, spokesmen at our court representing kings and princes. Pope Nicholas V, our predecessor of pious memory, summoned a general expedition against the infidels after the disastrous fall of Constantinople in order to crush their fury and to avenge the wounds of Christ. Callistus III and Pius II, of happy memory our predecessors as Roman pontiffs, urged on by zeal for the faith, followed in the same path with skill and energy. During a subsequent period of three years, we imitated them by means of an authorisation from ourselves and our said brothers for imposing and exacting a tithe on the revenues of churches, monasteries and other benefices throughout the world and for doing each and every other thing that is necessary and customary in a campaign of this kind. We continually pour forth holy, humble and earnest prayers to almighty God that the campaign may have a happy outcome. We order the same to be done by all Christ's faithful of either sex. We exhort Maximilian, the emperor-elect, and kings, princes and christian rulers, whose courage God bids us to rouse, beseeching them by the tender mercy of our God, Jesus Christ, and appealing to them by his fearful judgment to remember that they shall have to render an account of their defence and preservation -- even by giving their lives -- of the church itself, which has been redeemed by Christ's blood, and to rise up in strength and power for the defence of the christian faith, as is incumbent on them as a personal and necessary duty, with all mutual hatred being set aside and quarrels and conflicts among themselves being committed to everlasting oblivion. At this time of such great need, let them offer with eagerness their ready assistance in keeping with their resources. We urge with paternal affection and ask them that, at least during the campaign, out of reverence for almighty God and for the apostolic see, they assure the unbroken observance of the peace into which they have entered, so that such an important good, which we hope and desire will be obtained with the help of the Lord's right hand, may not be impeded by some interruption from discord and dissension.
What is interesting, however, is that it does not appear that any new crusade followed on this council's proclamation. God had other ideas for Europe. Martin Luther in October of 1517 presented 95 theses, which are often identified as the starting point of the Protestant Reformation.