The Cathars Research Paper

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"When a heretic is first brought up for examination, he assumes a confident air, as though secure in his innocence. I ask him why he has been brought before me. He replies, smiling and courteous, 'Sir, I would be glad to learn the cause from you'" (Lea). A number of people were accused of heresy during the Middle Ages. The Catholic Church named the Cathars of Southern France in particular as being heretics. The Cathars believed in a dualist heresy, where they recognized the existence of two gods--one evil and one good. This practice went against the teachings of the Catholic Church. In order to quell the Cathars, the Church called for a crusade in order to eradicate their practices. While the Church initially only had the power to excommunicate…show more content…
At that time in the papacy, the system was corrupted by popes and priests who sought to increase their power. In later years, historians labeled the time period as the Pornocracy. For example, Pope John XI married during his term and pope and brought her and her business of selling pleasures to the Vatican. The Cathars rebelled against these bad examples of Christianity, and instead focused their teachings on being anti-materialistic and rejecting the pleasures of the world. The Cathars take some of their doctrine from one of their Apocryphal texts of John the Evangelist: "And again I, John, asked the Lord: How beginneth a man to be in the Spirit (to have a spirit) in a body of flesh? And the Lord said unto me: Certain of the angels which fell do enter unto the bodies of women, and receive flesh from the lust of the flesh, and so is a spirit born of spirit, and flesh of flesh, and so is the kingdom of Satan accomplished in this world and among all nations" (The Apocryphal New Testament). The Cathars chose texts with this theme of associating the lust for flesh with the devil in order to combat what they saw as corruption in the Catholic Church. They also incorporated scripture from the New Testament, such as in Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the Temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" (Cathar Rites). The Cathar religion was able to use texts from one of the original twelve apostles to question if human beings' bodies are holy or evil. This concept of denying pleasures appealed to so many people in the South of France, because they were closest to the atrocities being committed in Italy. Since the Pornocracy lasted nearly a century, the Cathar religion was able to flourish and establish itself

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