Who were the real Cathars?

There seems to be two sides (even among Catholics) when it comes to the Cathars nowadays:

  1. That they were for the most part peaceful, some or a lot of their negative perception is/was propaganda on the part of the Church and thus the Albegensian Crusade was nothing short of murder.

OR

  1. That they were anti-life, promoted ritualistic suicide, were deceptive & murderous, and thus the Albegensian Crusade was justified.

Does anyone know where I can find any reliable reading material on this matter, preferably from a Catholic author?

Thanks in advance and God bless.

What do we know about them that doesn’t have its origins in the writings of their enemies?

Amazon has several books on the subject. The reviews may help you to decide.

I was actually wondering that too.

From what I gather, it’s a criticism of even academic books on the subject, ie that a lot of it involves interpretations of what contemporary enemies were saying about them. Direct evidence/interpretation from the Cathar side is missing/rare.

Correct me if Im wrong but did not the Cathars believe the body and material things were evil?

That may have been why St.Francis of Assisi came to the scene preaching the beauty and goodness of creation

There’s an entire website titled cathar.info. Let’s hope it’s not biased:

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 contraception, euthanasia or suicide.** In some respects the Cathar and Catholic Churches were polar opposites. For example the Cathar Church taught that all non-procreative sex was better than any procreative sex.

COUNCIL OF VIENNE (1311-1312)

This sect, planted by the sower of evil deeds, holds and asserts in its sacrilegious and perverse doctrine the following errors.

  1. First, that a person in this present life can acquire a degree of perfection which renders him utterly impeccable and unable to make further progress in grace. For, as they say, if someone could always make further progress, he could become more perfect than Christ.

  2. Secondly, that it is not necessary to fast or pray after gaining this degree of perfection, for then the sensitive appetite has been so perfectly subjected to the spirit and to reason that one may freely grant the body whatever pleases it.

  3. Thirdly, that those who have reached the said degree of perfection and spirit of liberty, are not subject to human obedience nor obliged to any commandments of the church, for, as they say, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

  4. Fourthly, that a person can gain in this life final beatitude in every degree of perfection that he will obtain in the life of the blessed.

  5. Fifthly, that any intellectual nature in itself is naturally blessed, and that the soul does not need the light of glory to elevate it to see God and enjoy him blissfully.

  6. Sixthly, that the practice of the virtues belongs to the state of imperfection and the perfect soul is free from virtues.

  7. Seventhly, that to kiss a woman is a mortal sin since nature does not incline one to it, but the act of intercourse is not a sin, especially in time of temptation, since it is an inclination of nature.

  8. Eighthly, that at the elevation of the body of Jesus Christ, they ought not to rise or show reverence to it; it would be an imperfection for them to come down from the purity and height of their contemplation so far as to think about the ministry or sacrament of the eucharist, or about the passion of Christ as man.

ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/VIENNE.HTM#10

Bump.

From cathar.info (yes, that’s a real source):

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 contraception, euthanasia or suicide. In some respects the Cathar and Catholic Churches were polar opposites. For example the Cathar Church taught that all non-procreative sex was better than any procreative sex.

Okay, so that allowed for them to be consider immoral by the wider groups of Christendom, and thus undesirable. The site also says that they believed in reincarnation, which makes them flat-out heretics.

I heard they were also deceptive & murderous with mafia like assasinations, rather than how they’re usually portrayed as peaceful. Is this true?

There were some cases of violence in the Albigensian Crusade. Pierre de Castelnau was a French Catholic archdeacon who later became a monk in 1202. He was assassinated by a Cathar-tolerating French house. He was beatified in 1208 after his death by Pope Innocent III and was considered a martyr.

So eventually, this started the Albigensian Crusade. I couldn’t find anything on the Cathars’ violence, but there was murderous violence on the side of supporting French royal houses (of which there were only two major ones, and pretty much all of Catholic Christendom was de facto against Catharism).

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