Atheists and anti-Catholics often point to the Crusades. How can the Catholic Church be the Body of Jesus Christ when it committed such awful sins?
I do not intend to defend the Crusades here, though they are much more complicated than how opponents of the Church present them. But let me first say Christians sin and act evilly all the time. They do not stand for the entire Church. The Church is not sinful because you or I sin. Individual crusaders committed sins, but the Church as a whole should not be labeled because of them.
If the Crusades were evil, which, again, is arguable (they did help save Europe from Islam), God did make some good come from them. All we need to do is look at the history of commerce and trading, as well as the development of globalism.
Prior to the Crusades, Europe was fairly insular. There was no thought of traveling outside the confines of Charlemagne's empire. But with crusading armies traveling to the Middle East, a route between Rome and Constantinople was opened, and this route soon became a trade route. Commerce to the Indies was eventually established, thanks to the Crusades. The influx of new goods, and wealth, improved European society and the standard of living rose. The spirit of the Crusader as a traveler beyond Europe is what would penetrate and motivate great explorers like Marco Polo, Vasco de Gama, and Christopher Columbus, who wore the crusading cross on his shirt. The horizons of the European mindset were opened. The concept of a universal culture and an openness to other lands are all concepts owed to the Crusades.
I still would not go so far to say as we should be proud of the Crusades, but I would not cower when they are mentioned.