Horrible Heresies Alive Today

Cathars expelled

Stephen Krason writes here on the creepy parallels between the Albigensian heresy and today’s secular value system. The more you study history the more you realize how history repeats itself–or to quote Mark Twain, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it echoes.”

The Albigensians, or Catharists, were neo-Manicheans, regarding material creation as an evil and viewing all of existence as a conflict between evil matter and good spirit—but O’Brien says it was much more. Like all Gnostics, of which Manicheanism was a branch, they believed themselves to be the only “pure” ones and the only ones to have the truth. They were certainly a forerunner of Protestantism and even more specifically of the most ardent of contemporary fundamentalists, with their complete rejection of the Real Presence, transubstantiation, the Eucharist, and the Mass, and their belief that the pope was the Antichrist. Their teaching and practice, however, had enormous implications for marriage, sexual morality, and social and political life.

The parallels to the present are almost uncanny.

Read his excellent analysis here.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • Richard Stevens

    Extraordinary! I just read the article by Stephen Krason.

    The Albigensians seem to have anticipated every perversion of our modern world – euthanasia, abortion, anti family, anti children, sexual perversion while renouncing legitimate married sex, feminist contempt of men, anti capital punishment, anti killing of animals, etc etc.

    There truly is nothing new under the sun.

    The BIG difference is that then the Church had the strength and faith to take the Albigensians head on. People like St Dominic lead the charge.
    However, today, many in the Church are either supporting the modern “Albigensian” craze, or at least by inaction, allowing it to flourish.

  • Unbeliever Prime

    I have actually read a great deal about the Gnostics before.
    To be honest, it seems like even though the Catholic Church successfully crushed the main Gnostic movements, the ‘spirit’ of the that heresy became dominant in the Church.
    Specifically the idea that matter is evil and only spiritual things are good.
    This seems to be reflected in Catholicism’s attitudes towards things like sex, wealth, beauty (particularly feminine beauty), and self deprivation.
    When it comes to luxuries and pleasures the Catholic Church always urges moderation and/or complete self-denial. However, when it comes to selfless service, self-denial, and self-deprivation (at least when there’s a religious motivation) the Church always usually promotes it.
    From what I have observed it appears that most of the people the Church has declared saints lived simply and denied themselves basic pleasures (like decent food) in order to prove their devotion to God and lack of interest in worldly things.
    Now I know current Catholic doctrine admits that their can be legitimate sensual (and even sexual) worldly pleasures. But the fact remains that it has always promoted the spiritual at the expense of the physical.

    • Dillon T. McCameron

      “When it comes to luxuries and pleasures the Catholic Church always urges moderation and/or complete self-denial. However, when it comes to selfless service, self-denial, and self-deprivation (at least when there’s a religious motivation) the Church always usually promotes it.”

      You say that like it’s a bad thing.

      “But the fact remains that it has always promoted the spiritual at the expense of the physical.”

      Because the physical is fading? And to spurn the vain pleasures of this life in anticipation of the lasting joy in the next is meritous?

      Have you never heard of mortification?

      • Unbeliever Prime

        It is a bad thing, because it treats the physical world and all of its natural beauties and pleasures as though they are evil (or worthless at best).
        Catholicism says that it doesn’t view everything non-spiritual as evil, but its actions indicate otherwise.

        • Dillon T. McCameron

          “194. I am going to tell you which are man’s treasures on earth so you won’t slight them: hunger, thirst, heat, cold, pain, dishonor, poverty, loneliness, betrayal, slander, prison…” The Way, St Josemaria Escriva.

          Earthly beauty and worldly pleasures are all fleeting; ultimately unsatisfying for our eternal hunger for the infinite.

          218 How beautiful it is to give up this life for the life!
          ***
          What actions of the Church indicate that it regards creation (which is good) as evil?

    • Brian

      Thank you for raising questions.

    • wineinthewater

      I think the problem is that you missing the value in the value of those saints’ self denial. Asceticism and other forms of self-denial doesn’t have value because the physical world is evil, but because the physical world is good. They demonstrated their holiness, in part, by valuing the pursuit of God above all the other good things in creation.

      Self deprivation has no value when the things denied have no value. I think the ongoing temptation to see this dualism is actually affecting your view of Catholic practice. The tendency toward material-spiritual dualism is so deeply seated that it is often difficult to see self-denial in any other context. But that is not the Catholic context. We avoid evil things because they are evil. But we also sometimes avoid good things so that we can focus on what is even better.


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