Albigensian Crusade as a Punching Bag

I know a lot of evangelicals and secularists will use the Albigensian Crusade to show how the Church is just a big “meanie.” I was talking to someone about the Church and the Albigensian Crusade came up somehow. I tried explaining how this crusade was not conducted very well (considering that the crusaders killed a large amount of Catholics in the process) but the action to have a crusade against this heresy was justified due to the fact that these heretics practiced harmful things such as ritual suicide and starvation. They also evangelized by violence, frowned upon procreation and marriage, and killed one of Pope Innocent’s advisers who he sent to peacefully treat and preach them.

Of course, my friend claimed that the Albigensians were nothing like what I describe. He said that the Church made up accusations in order to look justified in killing them off, because the Church feared this new “proto-protestant” movement as a threat to their theocratic rule.

Where are some good primary sources that I can use to show him that this anti-Christian sect was not some sort of protestant group that the Church wanted to stomp out. Are there some primary sources that I can use that show that these people were indeed as vile as some Catholic apologists have described?

Frankly, Im rather tired of having to do all the research for outlandish claims of others! Make others provide you with legitimate evidence of their claims!

With respect to the “Albigensian Crusade” its not even worth your time arguing the point. Concede the point that some Popes did some bad things. So what! Calvin, Zwingli, Queen Elizabeth I had Catholics murdered simply for celebrating Mass. What do they have to say about that? And the response “the Catholic Church started it!” isnt a real response! NO religion is free from evil doers in its midst. All such evil doing does is prove that these people failed to live up to what the faith really taught!

Stick to the theology! And if they want focus on Crusades and Inquisition I would simply tell them they h ave to provide the evidence on specific atrocities they think happened and not start the presumption of truth regarding with the wild Black Menace myths, such as millions of people being killed in the Inquisition or that there was blood knee deep in the streets of Jerusalem from the Crusade battles.

I have not researched primary sources for the Albigensians and the crusade against them, but there is one thing I’d like to point out that I think applies to very many questions of European warfare from that time: when a kingdom or province seceded from Catholicism during that time, it is my understanding that they took the Church’s property with them. That is, the Cathedrals, the churches, the monasteries, the artwork, the sacred vessels and everything else the Church owned where the Albigenses and other heretical groups seceded from the Church – in all these places the Church lost all its property, because it is my understanding that the heretical groups continued to use these properties even after they left the Church.

As a result, I think that all these ancient wars against the schismatics and heretics has at least one element that can help us sympathize with the Church: the Church is attempting to recover property that legitimately belongs to it and has been unjustly taken. It seems to me that the use of force can be justified in such a circumstance, if the people involved won’t return the stolen properties voluntarily.

It is my understanding that the pope during the time of the Albigensian crusade had at least four papal legates trying to negotiate the return of his properties before one of them was killed, and it was only after that that he resorted to the use of arms. I think regaining that perspective about the Church’s ownership of real valuable property in the area can help us understand why the people of the time resorted to the use of force to recover this territory to the Church.

Anyway, I hope that helps.

I would tell your friend that if he wanted to embrace the Albigensians as some kind of ancestral protestants or “proto protestants” then he was welcome to them along with their dualism and their teaching that suicide was a noble act. But frankly what your friend thinks and the Baptist “Trail of Blood” have a lot in common. They are so far fetched that only a true bigot would think they contained any truth.

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