cathars

Having read The Perfect Ones, I’ve come to have a certain liking for The Cathars

The Cathars were a religious group who appeared in Europe in the eleventh century, their origins something of a mystery. Catholic theologians debated with themselves for centuries whether Cathars were Christian heretics or whether they were not Christians at all.

Cathars believed in two principles, a good creator god and his evil adversary (much like God and Satan of mainstream Christianity). Cathars called themselves Christians; their neighbours distinguished them as “Good Christians”. The Catholic Church called them Albigenses, or less frequently Cathars.

Cathars maintained a Church hierarchy and practiced a range of ceremonies, but rejected any idea of priesthood or the use of church buildings. They divided into ordinary believers who led ordinary medieval lives and an innerElect of Parfaits (men) and Parfaites (women) who led extremely ascetic lives yet still worked for their living – generally in itinerant manual trades like weaving. Cathars believed in reincarnation and refused to eat meat or other animal products. They were strict about biblical injunctions – notably those about living in poverty, not telling lies, not killing and not swearing oaths.

Basic Cathar tenets led to some surprising logical implications. For example they largely regarded men and women as equals, and had no doctrinal objection to contraceptioneuthanasia or suicide.


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