3. What are the main differences between Cathars and Catholics?

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  • 3. What are the main differences between Cathars and Catholics?
    • Cathar belief derived from form of 'dualism' that originated in early medieval Bulgaria
      • It was called Bogomilism
      • It spread into Byzantine Empire in C11th, establishing itself at Constantinople
        • Centre of Orthodox Church
        • From there, found a way to western Europe where it was present in Rhineland in 1140s and its adherents were first called 'Cathars'
    • Cathars established in France and Northern Italy by second half of C12th
      • Most closely associated with Languedoc
    • Due to dualist beliefs, Cathars were
      • Were anti-sacramental and anti-clerical
      • Rejected infant baptism, Mass, confession and extreme unction
      • Rejected Old Testament
        • Believed its god to be evil, creator God, whereas god of New Testament was loving creator of souls
      • Opposed many Catholic beliefs
    • In contrast with some Catholic clergy, Cathars lived very simply
      • Cathars owned no property, required no church buildings and worked for thier keep
    • Cathar route to salvation simpler than Catholics
      • because everything material was evil, it had to be given up as far as possible
        • Cathars lived very austere lives indeed, with clear set of rules to guide them
    • Cathars, unlike Catholics, believed when a person died their soul was trapped in human and animal bodies by creator god, instead of going to heaven via purgatory
      • because of this they ate nothing resulting from coition (i.e. meat, eggs or dairy products, although they did eat fish
    • Cathars renounced sexual intercourse, which produced more bodies in which evil god could imprison souls
    • For Cathar, becoming perfectus or perfecta (complete)
      • Only way to escape cycle of reincarnation
      • When one of these died soul escaped to live with good god
    • Perfect's life of renunciation was far too difficult for most people
      • Did not matter
        • Did not matter how you lived, mattered how you died
          • As long as believer received consolamentum (the herecation rite performed by perfecti) on their deathbed and did nothing forbidden after this, their souls too would escape to heaven when they died
            • Because they too were 'perfected'
          • Contrasts Catholics who had to strive all of his/her life against sin and had to experience genuine remorse for it
          • The Cathar faith allowed credentes to live as they pleased until just before point of death
            • For worldly and warlike southern French lords this was a non-judgemental and simple sect of favour, even if some followers do not appear to have understood dualist theology in a meaningful way
              • As a result, towns and castra of Languedoc were full of Cathars and they were closely woven into its social as well as religious life
    • Cathars had its own ecclesiastical hierarchy
      • Perfecti were elite, living in houses together and each had a companion with whom they travelled
      • Organised into dioceses
        • with their own bishops and deacons, such as Bernard of La Mothe
          • Bishops had an 'elder' and 'younger son'
            • When Bishop died, elder would replace him and younger would replaced elder
      • Structures were established at Cathar councils such as that at Saint-Felix-de-Carman in either 1167 or between 1174 and 1177
        • There Bogomil Papa Nicetas travelled to Languedoc and established bishops at Toulouse, Carcassonne and Agen, as well as consoling a new bishop at Albi
        • Nicetas reformed Cathar belief
          • Western dualists had been 'moderate' dualists, believing good god had been tricked into allowing his eldest son to create world
          • 'Absolute' dualists like Nicetas and Cathars of Languedoc after him considered two gods to be 'co-eternal' - always to have existed
            • Nicetas raised issues of belief about nature of creation and about lineages in organisational authority
      • Brief schism in Cathar church in 1226, during crusade when heretic Bartholemew of Carcassonne converted Cathar bishop of Agen, Vigouroux of la Bacone and his followers back to moderate dualism

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