Our New Albigensian Age

In an old (1950) monograph entitled The Truth about the Inquisition, Dr. John A. O’Brien, a Notre Dame history professor of the time, provides a brief but interesting exposé of the Albigensian heresy. Few people recall that that almost maniacal rebellion against Catholic teaching and, for that matter, commonsensical and civilized living was the trigger for the much-misunderstood Inquisition. O’Brien’s discussion makes one think of many aspects of our current civilizational crisis, even though the comparison could not have been so evident in 1950.

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. While hatred for the Church is nothing new, the visceral character of the Albigensians’ hatred bears a resemblance to the ugliest side of the Reformation and today’s assaults on religion. For example, O’Brien tells us how the Albigensians were known for indiscriminately chopping down crosses and stamping on them. In America today, we see the relentless efforts by rabid, uncompromising church-state separationist groups to remove all religious symbols from public places and the heightened vandalism of crosses and other Christian monuments.

The sexual libertinism, views about marriage, and feminism of our time resemble the Albigensian heresy. While the Albigensians considered sex an “inherent evil,” it seems as if it was not so much sex per se that they rejected but the proper context for it. They utterly rejected marriage, mostly because it meant bringing children into the world. Pregnancy for them was diabolical. Their confusion about sexual matters made them believe that marriage was worse than fornication and adultery. In our time, people don’t quite make this claim, but marriage has become irrelevant as the condition for engaging in sexual activity and no judgment is made about the morality of almost any sexual practices. For many, particularly in lower socioeconomic status groups, marriage almost seems obsolete; children are routinely born out-of-wedlock. Others, particularly among the affluent, enter marriage—or what is called that—but have no intention of bearing children. While people may not proclaim pregnancy as evil, they act is if it is in our contracepting age. As O’Brien says, for the Albigensians even perversion was preferable to marriage. In our time, we witness the celebration of sexual perversion as a good thing—as “LGBT pride.” While the Albigensians wanted to abolish marriage, we have transformed it into something that they would have lauded: an association devoid of procreative intent or even, in the case of same-sex “marriage,” capability. As far as traditional, true marriage is concerned, we increasingly give it no special support or even recognition as uniquely important for society. We say that people are free to choose what “version” of it they prefer—and be officially “affirmed” in their choice.

So the Albigensians, who so rejected sex as part of their disdain for the material world and supposedly in the interest of spiritual purity, actually opened the door to sexual debauchery and the corruption of both body and soul. This was typical of Manicheans historically. Some would become extreme ascetics, and others utter hedonists.

Contemporary feminism has a ring of the Albigensian. Instead of equality in marriage, it effectively placed women in a dominant position. As O’Brien explains, since pregnancy was despised married women who were converted to Albigensianism unilaterally abrogated their husbands’ marital rights and consigned them to “an enforced celibacy.” It was considered “sinful and degrading” to even touch a woman (even if innocently and in a pure way). This almost rings of the extremes to which sexual harassment has gone in our day. It makes one think of the anti-male ethos in the statements of some of today’s feminists. The female dominance was further seen in that a religious punishment of fasting for inter-gender touching could only be imposed on a man, even if the woman did the touching.

Today, abortion seems to have become a positive good for ardent feminists and their fellow-travelers. It’s much like the Albigensians, for whom O’Brien says “abortion was highly to be commended.”

The Albigensians anticipated today’s assault on human life in other areas, as well. Believing that the seriously ill would gain eternal bliss if they did not recover their health, they encouraged them to commit suicide. In fact, they practiced assisted suicide. The assisted suicide advocates of today are different only in that their methods are (usually) more technologically sophisticated. The Albigensians either suffocated or starved the person. Today’s practice in medical facilities of hastening death by withholding nutrition and hydration was what they did—except it took place in the person’s home. Like today, the person was supposedly given a choice: they gave him a choice of these two methods of death, today people sign living wills. Either way, the supposed choice is no real choice. In both eras, there is a coercive backstop. The Albigensian leaders forbade the sick person’s family from feeding him, or would forcibly remove him from his home if they weren’t “reliable.” In our day, family members may make a choice for death even if the patient didn’t want it or, increasingly, the medical authorities do it even when it’s against the patient’s or the family’s wishes.

The present era, prodded along by the likes of Peter Singer, pushes more and more toward post-partum infanticide. Even on this, the Albigensians were a precursor. They insisted upon—even enforced—among their followers the starvation of very sick children. To make sure their parents didn’t lose their nerve, the sect leaders frequently visited their homes to monitor them. So, the Albigensians also anticipated our era’s undermining of parental rights.

While human life was in the crosshairs, animal life was sacrosanct. The Albigensians would never take an animal’s life. This was because they believed in something like reincarnation, so a dead person’s soul might be within an animal. They were a harbinger of today’s animal rights thinking. Indeed, their view had its roots in Eastern thought, whose influence in the turbulent 1960s may also have helped fuel our animal rights movement.

The Albigensians unconditionally rejected capital punishment; like current liberalism, it seemed to be the only life issue that troubled them. In fact, they held that the state had no authority to administer justice or punish crime at all. Thus, they undercut one of the most basic rationales for political life, and made unthinkable anything like a rule of law. While this does not seem to conform to our current reality of big, increasingly overbearing government, it does reflect the underlying notion about politics since Thomas Hobbes that the state is not natural to man. That government is an artificial construct to be twisted, used, or expanded in whichever way has underlain most modern political ideologies and its consequence is strikingly evident today as constitutional principles are left behind and executive fiat is substituted for duly enacted law. The Albigensians, in effect, didn’t think that government was completely necessary or at least legitimate. That sounds like Rousseau and Marx later on—two thinkers whose views, in one form or another, resound through the contemporary world. I recall Catholic political scientist Peter V. Sampo once saying that governments inspired by a neo-Gnostic idea—like Communist regimes and increasingly today’s Western arch-secular states—tend to be formless, less prone to limitation and open to unlimited expansion.

The Albigensians even condoned stealing, so long as it was done to the “right” person (that is, not one of their own sect). This makes me think of eminent social scientist Kenneth Clark’s justifying interracial muggings by minorities a few decades ago as an act of “social protest,” and how some today do not want to hold members of certain “favored” groups to the same moral standards as others.

Today’s secularist elite—so dominant in Western politics, culture, and opinion-making—are dualists, like the Albigensians. Even though the Albigensians rejected the material and they reject the spiritual, the consequences are strikingly similar. Also, like the Albigensians, they think they are all-knowing—and the implications for Western culture, as any serious observer realizes, are similarly grave.

Editor’s note: The image above is a detail from “The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel” painted by Louis Daguerre in 1824.

Stephen M. Krason


Stephen M. Krason's "Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic" column appears monthly (sometimes bi-monthly) in Crisis Magazine. He is Professor of Political Science and Legal Studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He holds a J.D. and Ph.D. (political science) and an M.A. in theology/religious education and is admitted to a number of law bars, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the author, most recently, of The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic (Transaction Publishers, 2012), and editor of three volumes: Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System (Scarecrow Press, 2013) and The Crisis of Religious Liberty (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014); and most recently, Challenging the Secular Culture: A Call to Christians (Franciscan University Press). His latest book is Catholicism and American Political Ideologies (Hamilton Books). He is also the author of a new novel, American Cincinnatus. The views expressed here are, of course, his own.

  • Michael Pakaluk

    Grant that, for many aspects of Albigensianism, there is an overlap between it and *some* aspect of our culture. It would not follow that our culture as a whole is analogous to Albigensianism.

    Albigensianism was similar to Platonism or Pythagoreanism; it held that the soul was a real spiritual substance imprisoned in the body, and that it was good for this substance to stay free of the body and get liberated from it quickly. Apart from the use of dualistic language informally, which even Catholics are likely to show, I wonder what the evidence is for this being a common view among “secular liberals”. Moreover, Albigensianism was a kind of sect or cult. In contrast today we witness a kind of general breakdown which looks like it has no discipline, explicit structure, or organization.

    To me it seems important to get the differential diagnosis correct. If the “symptoms” of our societal malaise are similar to some things seen during the time of the Albigensians, is the cause actually the same? Clearly, one needs to identify the cause correctly to deal with it well.

    • FUBO

      “and get liberated from it quickly.” I bet that many wish liberals were liberated from the planet much more quickly.

  • James

    I see the spirit of our age more as Epicureanism than Albigensianism. Society sees pursuit of happiness and absence of worry and pain as the highest goods.

    • tamsin

      The pagans of our age will wind up as Epicurean or Stoic; the danger is the extent to which people, in seeking their spiritual fortune, choose dualism. Or worse yet, dualism for thee but not for me.

      • msmischief

        Most of them would be morally improved by Epicureanism, which requires people to think about their choices. They are mostly impulse driven hedonists.

        • AugustineThomas

          And becoming all out modern savages if anything.

  • George Albinson

    This fine essay is an excellent reminder that if we do not know our history, we will repeat it. To that I might add, that those who are ignorant of history will allow others to twist it. – For all its beauty, Provence still seems like a haunted place – St.Dominic seems to have found it so. Professor Krason does well to point out how an unconscious dualism creeps into the piety of many well-intentioned Catholics. The distinguished catechist, Father John Hardon, SJ, used to say that the Charismatic movement was just an updated form of Maincheanism.

    • Patsy Koenig

      I am glad to hear you say that about the charismatic movement. I was in it for 6 months, and it was so heretical in principal, as well as practise, that I left that parish for a better Catholic parish – that was true to the techings of the Church.

      • CharlesOConnell

        As a rash judger myself, I think I can pose the question, is the Charismatic movement intrinsically heretical?

        I attended a multi-day Life in the Spirit Seminar in the 1990s, I found there to be formal irregularities–one of the principle organizers, a professional “spiritual person”, soon after engaged in a highly dubious lay “exorcism” that had to be cleaned up after by a qualified, ordained-Priest exorcist.

        Immediately after the LITSS event, I experienced an attack of self-hatred that I interpreted as diabolical.

        Yet I know nothing about the Charismatic movement overall that would allow me to assent to the proposition that it is intrinsically heretical.

        Heresy has a very specific, technical meaning, precision about which is not sufficiently observed by many people who habitually employ the term.

        Properly ordained ecclesiastical authority, which ordinary Catholics have a duty to obey, long ago issued the finding that the Charismatic movement is thoroughly orthodox.

  • Thomas Banks

    How much doctrinal connection really was there between the Cathari and the 16th century protestant reformers?

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      There was no direct influence at all. However, there were similarities. The Cathars or Albigensians were only one of a number of groups of mediaeval heretics – Brethren of the Free Spirit, Poor Men of Lyons, the Vaudois or Waldensians and, of course, the Lollards in England and the Hussites in Bohemia and we find similar doctrines floating around in all of them: a rejection of purgatory, indulgences, pilgrimages, relics, statues and a demand for the bible in the venacular.

      Lutherans and Calvinists rejected other doctrines of these groups that were preserved by the Anabaptists, whose distinctive doctrine was “believer’s baptism”: dominion by grace or the belief that anyone not in a state of grace can possess no authority, ecclesiastical or civil, the refusal to take an oath or to bear arms (except under a government of the saints, as they modestly called themselves.) Groups like the Mennonites (including the Amish), Moravian Brethren, Quakers and Shakers derive ultimately from the Anabaptists.

      • tamsin

        No direct influence, yet the same impulse, the same desire, to be free of the little laws and the big laws.

        Heresies do not come and go, so much as they are always with us, and from time to time are given names.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          I think Mgr Ronald Knox summed it up very well: “You have a clique, an élite, of Christian men and (more importantly) women, who are trying to live a less worldly life than their neighbours; to be more attentive to the guidance (directly felt, they would tell you) of the Holy Spirit…The pattern is always repeating itself, not in outline merely but in detail. Almost always, the enthusiastic movement is denounced as an innovation, yet claims to be preserving, or to be restoring, the primitive discipline of the Church… “

        • Adam__Baum

          Wasn’t it said that all heresies are an attack on the Incarnation and seperately, that there are no new heresies, just retellings of the old one(s).

          • smokes

            Islam’s clearly the most dangerous heresy, too, with it’s cafetaria-style purloining of Judaism and Catholicism sprinkled with a lot of blood, war and Death. Can’t waiting for the Mahdi to return.

            • Adam__Baum

              It’s really a cult, which at it’s core is the unattested musings of one individual.

          • AugustineThomas

            Christ seems to speak that way doesn’t he?

            False prophets, people will think they do justice when they kill you, etc.

            There’s nothing new under the sun.

        • Bob

          One of the most telling moments in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books comes in ‘Prince Caspian’, when a ghostly old woman hears the Narnians refer to the White Witch, who appeared to have been killed at the end of ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.’ She scoffs: “[W]ho ever heard of a witch that really died? You can always get them back.” And we do.

      • Patsy Koenig

        The direct influence was the Devil!

    • cestusdei

      Some fundamentalists claim a direct connection without really knowing what the Cathari were all about.

  • Steven Jonathan

    Dr. Krason,

    I very much appreciate the connections you make from Modernity to the Albigensian heresy. Fruits are easier to see than roots and it seems to me that you follow the branches into the ground, after all Modernism is the synthesis of all the heresies, it shouldn’t surprise us to see even tenuous connections to these heresies and for those of us in less possession of an understanding of all the heresies your essay serves as a map to the anatomy of confusion, thank you!

  • roxwyfe

    Just proves the old adages of “nothing new under the sun” and “what goes around comes around.” Human being just never seem to learn, do they?

    • TomD

      No they don’t. Ripling put it best in The Gods of the Copybook Headings:

      As it will be in the future,
      it was at the birth of Man
      There are only four things certain
      since Social Progress began.
      That the Dog returns to his Vomit
      and the Sow returns to her Mire,
      And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger
      goes wabbling back to the Fire;

  • George Albinson

    And thank you for the reference to capital punishment. The elevation of a prudential opinion against capital punishment (and one that contradicts the entire moral tradition of the Scripture and Tradition) to quasi-dogma, has dreadfully compromised the public perception of the Church’s dogmatic integrity and has fabricated a seamless garment that smothers the authentic pro-life cause.

    • Howard

      It would not be a problem if it were phrased better. Church officials should just say, “Be sure of the guilt before you punish anyone, and always show as much mercy as is compatible with your duty to protect the public.” That actually IS obviously in line with “the entire moral tradition of the Scripture and Tradition”, and it would also act to limit the APPLICATION of the death penalty — as well as other severe penalties that receive little comment. The key is to address this as MERCY, not justice.

      • Jerome

        To quote our Pope Emeritus in the Compendium of the Catechism: “When non-lethal means [of punishment] are sufficient, authority should limit itself to such means because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good, are more in conformity with the dignity of the human person, and do not remove definitively from the guilty party the possibility of reforming himself.”
        I hope no-one here is saying this is contrary to the tradition? Yes, in past times the death penalty was freely allowed as a prudential option for legislators, but today it’s not for developed societies that can afford other options–a practical impossibility in earlier times, if order was to be kept. It is still in a sense a prudential decision, of course, but, sorry, the popes have (for Catholics at least) made a large part of that decision already. Now, there was a strain of medieval Catholic piety that thought it good for lay people to voluntarily abstain from offices that administer the death penalty as a free act of mercy. The Church now requires this in some societies. Punishments always serve a number of purposes, which can be somewhat in tension with each other. The death penalty might be best retributively for some serious crimes. But in the light of the justice of the Cross, the justice of strict retribution can easily be outweighed by other factors, even in ways that are morally necessary in some circumstances, which the magisterium has every right to judge.

        • Howard

          You will look in vain for a magisterial statement that the death penalty is always unjust. (Of course in specific instances it can be, as can imprisonment or fine — or acquittal.) Instead what you find are statements about what “should” be done. I maintain that this “should” is because of mercy, not because of justice, a point which has not yet been clarified but which seems both natural and necessary to reconcile the statements with Catholic Tradition.

          Human dignity, a point to which recent Popes have appealed in opposing the death penalty in application is very much a two-edged sword. Uniquely among material creation, we can DESERVE not only death, but even Hell. To be willing to kill men because they are dangerous, not because they have earned it — to make life and death merely a prudential consideration, not a matter of justice — is to treat them like wild animals or poisonous plants. It is to treat them as less than human and very much to ignore their human dignity. But we are unique among creation not only in that we can need mercy, but in that we can give and receive mercy. If, therefore, the Popes are appealing to human dignity as a reason for refraining from executing THOSE WHO DESERVE IT (there can be no question of whether it is right to execute those who do not deserve it), it can only be understood as an appeal for mercy.

          It is important to distinguish between having executions and having the death penalty on the books. The Popes have really not addressed whether the state should say, “For what you have done, you deserve to die at the hands of your fellow man.” Since that is TRUE in the case of some serious crimes, it is hard to argue that the state is morally obliged to deny this truth. Actually carrying out the deserved punishment is a different question.

          Finally, I do have a major concern with the practical (yes, prudential) side of preventing the state from killing people after a trial — and that is that states, after congratulating themselves for being so “evolved”, will simply start killing people with no trial whatsoever. This is not an idle fear. Remember that the 4 policemen who shot an unarmed Amidou Diallo 19 times were all aquitted, and that the last 2 administrations (one Democratic, the other Republican) have shown no commitment to the Bill of Rights and have been perfectly happy to use drones to kill people without trial. As it is, more people already die at the hands of police than in a death chamber. In such an imperfect world, I would much rather them stand trial for their lives than not survive for the trial at all.

          • Jerome

            Thank you for your thoughtful response. I believe I mostly agree with you. I most emphatically agree with the Thomist position that the death penalty can (in theory!) be justly imposed by legislators for any mortal sin whatsoever that they judge to be more weighty or more harmful to society. After all mortal sins deserve the eternal dying of hell, actually a heavier punishment that temporal death, as you point out.

            Nevertheless, even at the height of extension of the death penalty in Western Christendom in the later medieval and early modern period, most mortal sins were not so punished–only most felonies. And that even given the much rougher and more dangerous tenor of life in those times! This is sufficient to show that the Catholic tradition has a strong presumption against legislating the death penalty, paradoxical though that might sound.

            Now that the harm to society of not having the death penalty has largely vanished, since we can afford imprisoning criminals for life, the “harmful to society” criterion has largely collapsed.

            I agree that maybe the utilitarian state will find ways to kill people anyway, but that’s irrelevant to the Church’s teaching, since the Church doesn’t endorse that kind of approach to law.

            I also have a difference perhaps with you in terms of justice and mercy. The two in the cross of Christ prove not to be so opposed, and even somewhat convertible on a fundamental level, but to the advantage of that mercy that God *is* in the deepest sense. As Thomas says, God creates the world more from mercy than justice, and how much the more so according to the order of its recreation in grace, to which a Christian is especially bound! Now in that light, consider St. Paul to the Romans 3: 24-26: “Both Jew and pagan sinned a forfeited God’s glory and both are justified through a free gift . . . in Christ Jesus who was appointed by God to sacrifice his life so as to win reconciliation through faith. In this way God makes his justice know: first, for the past, when sins went unpunished because he held his hand, then for the present age, by showing positively that he is just, and that he justifies everyone who believes in Jesus.”

            Of course, this is only indirectly relevant to the death penalty, but it shows that the deepest form of justice *is* mercy. I believe a somewhat similar point might be proved through human dignity, which would draw rather more from natural law than theology, but it’s very complicated–too much so for this posting! Yet in the end, I would conclude justice must make the most room for mercy reasonably possible, all things considered.

            • Howard

              “Now that the harm to society of not having the death penalty has largely vanished, since we can afford imprisoning criminals for life, the ‘harmful to society’ criterion has largely collapsed.”

              So this depends on practical situations in the imperfect world. You claim they have changed, so we can now do without the death penalty.

              “I agree that maybe the utilitarian state will find ways to kill people anyway, but that’s irrelevant to the Church’s teaching, since the Church doesn’t endorse that kind of approach to law.”

              And then in the next breath you say that practical situations in the real world have nothing to do with it.

              Well, which is it? You can’t get away with saying it was OK in the Middle Ages because the situation was different, but oh by the way it has nothing to do with the situation at all.

              • Jerome

                I would answer this way: it depends on how you mean. Danger to society from criminals is a fairly “objective” criterion, subject to certain rational criteria. From the few cases where we can calculate it precisely, it seems that the medieval English countryside had murder rates well in excess of our worst inner cities, and stealing someone’s milk cow in a poor subsistence peasant society of that sort could be an existential threat to someone–or their children. Similarly having the money to imprison for life most your more dangerous criminals is fairly objective issue, although of course subject to some judgment in borderline cases. In my opinion this would be much more arguable in the Democratic Republic of Congo today, than in the United States.

                But having the state execute someone because otherwise it would find a way to kill them anyway without trial (i.e. unjustly) means that the state (or those who run it) is the direct moral problem, and needs to be subject to reform. It is acting in an irrational way for a whole variety of reasons, some of which you cite. If we couldn’t solve the problem by reforming the state, or the bad assumptions on which in acts, we might in a sense tolerate the death penalty, but only as something we think inappropriate, assuming the other criteria that militate against said penalty apply to it.

                • Howard

                  Again, I distinguish between having the death penalty on the books and actually executing someone. I also distinguish between having someone tried for his life and having him executed after a merely nominal trial. If the decision of life and death were kept in the hands of the executive and outside the judicial process and the judgment of a jury, I agree that there would be no point in a trial just for show. If, on the other hand, the point of the trial is to establish actual guilt, determine the just punishment, and allow scope for mercy, this certainly seems a very Catholic approach to bring the most good to a fallen world.

                  By the way, I have real doubts whether the statutory elimination of the death penalty would count as mercy at all. The law is a kind of robot, and robots have neither mercy nor wisdom. That, again, is part of our dignity as human beings. This is the reason why it is appropriate to have a single human being — a governor or president — who is able to show mercy on behalf of the state.

                  That has certain consequences, though. Aside from protecting against abuses like selling pardons, there should not be the obstacles to mercy that are often found in our systems.

                  One more thing: I think to be really convincing, an argument for or against the death penalty needs to proceed from general principles that apply to other forms of punishment as well. It makes no sense whatsoever to be extremely concerned that a man is executed but not at all concerned if his life and reputation are destroyed. What I am saying about mercy certainly also applies to imprisonment and other punishments as well as capital punishment.

                  • Jerome

                    I agree strongly with the last paragraph. I think it is quite possible to do what you ask. But as a matter of method, I would suggest the following: we need to assume that the teaching in Evangelium Vitae and recent catechetical documents is the correct one, certainly to begin with as an initial hypothesis. Other popes could develop it further, but it is very unlikely to be in the direction of being more permissive of the death penalty, at least barring a general civilizational collapse that brings most the world back to a much rougher existence. To do otherwise, it seems to me, is sort of like an enemy of modern finance expecting that some day the popes are going to return to unconditional condemnation of money lending at interest.

                    The traditional criteria of Thomas for punishment should be the main ones in justifying the more recent magisterial restrictions on the death penalty: what punishment or punishments best suits the retributive commutation of guilt?, what punishment or punishments suitably protect the common good from future damage by the perpetrator?, and what is best for the perpetrator, given as Thomas says temporal legal punishment is mostly medicinal in purpose? There can be arguments both ways for any crime on any of these questions as concerns death or other any other penalty (I would have to write pages to explore this in any half-serious way). Yet in modern conditions, all in all, I am convinced only the first question tends toward supporting the death penalty for a crime like murder, the other two are neutral, or militate against it respectively.

                    In addition some criteria suggested by the modern magisterial documents need to be taken seriously, at least as secondary criteria: the primacy of the infinite mercy of God over other factors, all things being equal, even with regard to temporal punishments, and the need to support general respect for life, given the modern lack of understanding of this, and other similar modern attitudes. Although, again, arguments can be made both ways on these criteria, to my mind they work mainly against use of the death penalty over other options, even for murder.

                    • Howard

                      First of all, nothing that I have said contradicts “the teaching in Evangelium Vitae and recent catechetical documents.” Frequently I see that people paraphrase the Bible or a magisterial document, and then demand that their paraphrases be treated as an infallible element of the Deposit of Faith. Nope. I’m not gonna agree to that.

                      But I do not see any reason to believe that the situation is qualitatively different now than it was in the ancient world or the Middle Ages. Today people escape from prison because the guards are careless, or because the guards or the magistrates release the prisoner because they sympathize with him or they have been bribed. It’s hard to find an escape that doesn’t have some element of the above. The same was true in Rome, which is why such severe penalties applied to jailers who allowed their charges to escape. It was not substantially easier to escape from the Tower of London than it is now to escape from federal prison now.

                      The claim is made, however, that today’s situation is really different than it was in the Middle Ages, and this means we must be less tolerant of the death penalty than in times past. OK. All those conditions could return, though. If a change in the conditions in one direction leads to it being necessary to decrease the number of executions, a return to previous conditions would remove that constraint and make in increase in the number of executions appropriate. Development of doctrine is irreversible, but “progress” is not, and to the extent the change in attitude is due to secular “progress”, it is also reversible.

                      As I said, it will fall to a future Leo XIII to clarify what is reversible and subject to conditions, what is an irreversible development of doctrine, what exactly terms like “rare” mean in practice, and how this relates to important principles like justice and mercy. I don’t think any of us will live to see that day, but until it comes, it will be impossible to bring this discussion to a definitive conclusion.

                    • Jerome

                      I agree, actually, as far as a future pope having the ability to define more on this issue, and whether the undoubted historical changes have been the occasion of a genuine development in doctrine, or just a change of circumstances. Nevertheless, I would be very surprised if the actual practical position of the Church would get much more favorable to the death penalty, as I said above.

                      I, by the way, was never meaning to accuse you of being at direct variance with the magisterium of the Church, but I do wonder about the prudence of the very broad way you want to understand the discretion of the state in these matters, and your wanting to–I am wrong?–somewhat ignore the more recent magisterial statements as being too vague to be useful. We should be enthusiastic about promoting these statements, even if there’s a little more room for precision about the issue in some ways.

                    • Howard

                      You are wrong. If I simply wanted to ignore recent statements, that would be easy to do, and it would not result in a position which is consistent with them. On the other hand, I have no use for the kind of Fundamentalist Protestant thinking that latches on to the most recent fad — the Prayer of Jabez, for example — and ignores everything that has happened in the history of the Church between the death of the Apostle John and twenty years ago.

                      On the contrary, one of the worst nights I have spent as a Catholic came after reading a passage from 50 Questions on the Natural Law: What It is and Why We Need It by Charles E. Rice. Rice claimed that John Paul II had definitively stated that the state may kill someone because he is dangerous — because of what he MIGHT do — but not because he is guilty — not because of what he has actually done. Rice said that this was now a definitive part of the Natural Law (even though it purportedly came through divine revelation, not natural reason). By those standards, of course, the Sanhedrin was just in arranging the death of Jesus, and the Communists and Nazis were justified in putting to death their enemies. I struggled with how a Pope — a Polish Pope no less! — could say such a thing. I wondered if my since of morality was so utterly wrong as to be totally useless, or whether this was something that was covered by infallibility, or what. It was a truly wretched temptation to doubt, though I think I never quite succumbed to that. The next morning I checked the corresponding passages in the Catechism and Evangelium Vitae, and I found that Rice was completely wrong. I was furious, and I will never read another sentence written by Rice.

                      Since then I have found Rice’s erroneous interpretation pushed by any number of Catholics (including some blogging priests) who ignore the careful language used by John Paul II and other Popes. They essentially say, “Well, I can summarize what he meant by [this], and if you do not accept my summary as divine revelation requiring full assent, you are a heretic.” WRONG.

                    • Jerome

                      Thanks you for the clarification, and have a most blessed Sunday!

            • Howard

              As for justice and mercy (and all other virtues) being united in God — yeah, but so what? *Ultimately*, beauty and goodness are the same thing, too, but not only is that not true in our fallen world, it was not even true in Eden. “And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband, who did eat.” We have to distinguish beauty from goodness, and we also have to distinguish justice from mercy.

              • Jerome

                Yet I dare say, with grace, the unity of justice and mercy becomes operational again. At very least with grace. And also mercy is the *root *of justice as it relates to us. Surely this must have some practical application here? I think Evangelium Vitae shows the way to the application, in fact, as well as being Papal magisterium, and it says the death sentence in the world today is to be rarely, if ever applied. I don’t object though to your solution of having a nominal death penalty but not enforcing it. That doesn’t seem to me unreasonable, but not having at all formally would also be a good solution. That is a matter of legislative judgment.

                • Howard

                  I am really convinced that a future Pope will have to clarify all this. For example, “rarely” is an almost completely useless word. If I were thinking about a violent crime, my last concern would be the death penalty. I’d be much more likely to be killed by an enemy or a friend or by the police as they try to stop or apprehend me. Capital punishment is certainly “rare” enough not to be a real deterrent. It is also handed down for only a tiny percentage of criminal killings, and it is substantially less common than any of a number of “rare” diseases.

                  More importantly, each case has to be treated individually. It would not be right to say to Sam the Slasher, “Well, we haven’t had an execution in 10 years, so we can put you down and it will still be ‘rare’,” but then say to Jack the Ripper, “Even though you killed 3 times as many people as Sam the Slasher, we executed him last year, so you get life in prison.”

                  Sadly, when Popes feel they have to issue encyclicals with titles like “God Is Love”, it is clear that they recognize the state of religious and moral education in the world is in greater need of elementary catechesis than the meatier elements of philosophy. I have little hope for that changing anytime soon, either, so my desire for more clarity on the subject is unlikely to be fulfilled in my lifetime.

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    “I am really convinced that a future Pope will have to clarify all this.”

                    The present pope touched on it in his recent interview. “St. Vincent of Lerins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the deposit of faith, which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and so also human consciousness deepens. Let us think of when slavery was accepted or the death penalty was allowed without any problem. So we grow in the understanding of the truth.” He adds, “The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.”

                    • Howard

                      Yes, that is “touching on it.” It is not clarifying the questions I have, though.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      I think Robespierre’s argument for imposing the death penalty on Louis XVI gives a balanced approach.

                      “As for me, I abhor the penalty of death so lavish in your laws, and I have neither love nor hatred for Louis. Crimes only I hate. I have asked the Assembly, which you still call Constituent, for the abolition of the death penalty, and it is not my fault if the first principles of reason seem to it moral and political heresies. But if you never bethought yourselves to invoke them in favour of so many unfortunates whose offenses are less their own than those of the government, by what fatality do you remember them only to plead the cause of the greatest of all criminals? You ask an exception to the death penalty for him alone against whom it can be legitimate! Yes, the penalty of death generally is a crime, and for that reason alone, according to the indestructible principles of nature, it can be justified only in cases when it is necessary for the safety of individuals or the social body. Public safety never demands it against ordinary offences, because society can always guard against them by other means and make the offender powerless to harm it. But a dethroned king in the bosom of a revolution which is anything but cemented by laws, a king whose name suffices to draw the scourge of war on the agitated nation, neither prison nor exile can render his existence immaterial to the public welfare: and this cruel exception to ordinary laws, which justice approves, can be imputed only to the nature of his crimes. It is with regret that I utter this fatal truth. But Louis must die, because the country must live.”

  • ColdStanding

    “Today’s secularist elite—so dominant in Western politics, culture, and opinion-making—are dualists, like the Albigensians.”

    Yesterday I was reading “The Christian Mind” by Abbot Anscar Vonier. On page 32 and 33 he has a very interesting quote that contradicts Prof. Kranson’s assertion I have c & p quoted. Speaking of dualism and monism, Abbot Vonier says: (the quote is lengthy so best to go to the book, here is link)


    This is the first book I’ve read by Abbot Vonier. I had searched for him because I read an essay written by him in The Teaching of the Catholic Church, which is a collection of essays on the Catholic faith. Excellent book. Of all the essayist, Abbot V. was the best (and they were all very good). I’d never heard of him before. I will be tracking down all of his works. So rich.

    • WMBriggs

      Great find, ColdStanding. (Yet another book tossed out by the wayside, I notice.)

      Though I don’t see how Vonier contradicts Kranson. Can you amplify?

      • WMBriggs

        I’m pleased to discover I was wrong (in two ways) about the book being tossed. U. Toronto’s St Michael’s college merely scanned it, making it available freely. U. still posses physical copy (I checked).

      • ColdStanding

        Forgive me, for I lack the precision and philosophical chops you have, so please pardon me if I am muddled in my use of terms…

        The line of Krason I quoted has him stating that the mode of the modern secular thinker’s method of making distinctions is a species of dualism; in suggesting that the Albigensians are dualists. Abbot Vonier is defining their principle cosmological claim as a species of monism.

        If we are attempting to figure out what ails the modern mind, a mistake in definitions could well derail our efforts, no?

        But let’s leave all that aside… have you read more of Vonier’s book than what I linked to?!

    • Facile1

      Dear ColdStanding,

      Thank you very much for posting the link. I’ve bookmarked it and plan to read Vonier’s “The Christian Mind” in its entirety.

      Having said that, I don’t believe Kranston and Vonier are using the word “dualism” in quite the same way.

      By “dualism”, I believe Kranston means the Albigensian belief in two Gnostic forces — the spiritual force (ie ‘good’) vs the corporeal force (ie ‘evil’). By “dualism”, I believe Vonier means the Catholic belief in God as Creator and Man as His Creature as opposed to the Monist heresy that Creator and Creature are one and the same. In the former, Albigensians reject man’s humanity as the ultimate ‘evil’ in the here and now even to the exclusion of Jesus Christ’s humanity. In the latter, Monists elevate man’s humanity as the ultimate ‘good’ in the here and now even to the exclusion of the Triune God altogether. Not surprisingly, the Roman Catholic Church rejects both Albigensian and Monist beliefs as heretical.

      I hope this helps.

      • ColdStanding

        As a follow up, having finished the book by Abbot Vonier, he goes on to use “dualism” when talking about another topic in the way that Prof. Krason does, with no commentary explaining the difference in usage. Frustrating. Other than that point, the book was excellent. Though I will have to re-read it and follow his claims more closely.

        • Facile1

          Thank you for giving me a heads up. I am not a native speaker of English and I also find it equally frustrating when authors are not aware when they are shifting context.

          But I do not wish to appear ungrateful. Writing is difficult and should be applauded even when flawed.

  • Magdalene

    It would seem that more rosaries and beseeching Our Lady….and some more saints like Dominic are needed again.

  • smokes

    It’s hard to Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother when you don’t know who Thy Father is.

    It’s the foundational basis for the Democrat Party…even before abortion.

    • AugustineThomas

      How do they choose who to murder and who to let live and brainwash?

      • smokes

        Great question. It’s pretty willy-nilly though old folks are moving up on their list for victim hood and will be in the doom race, nose and nose, with unborn babies. After all, the old folks are mostly white and didn’t support the Borg(D).

  • crakpot

    Interesting this about a cause of the Inquisition. These things should be taught in all Catholic high schools. Seems all we ever hear about is what went wrong with the response, as with the Crusades.

    I think this direct comparison with liberals is weak in places, but the root cause is the same. I’m wary of any group bearing resemblance to either of the only two groups Jesus showed anger toward – money changers and dove sellers. Those who.manipulate the value of money today are the central bankers, and the damage they are doing is largely ignored. Much more public are their partners in crime, the liberal cult, which I see as the dove sellers. My understanding is that dove sellers sold doves to the poor at high prices to sacrifice in the temple for their sins. Liberals too are at work on the conscience of the weak. They want more than your labor, they want your soul. They do that by making you dependent on them for feeling good about yourself.

    • Patsy Koenig

      Conservatism, which in practice refers to financial conservatism, is indeed equally selfish and perverted as the left. Both left and right are in love with money; they only differ as to who should have is and how to get it: either by re-disribution f wealth through welfare OR re-distribution of wealth through stock market ponzi schemes and corporate facism/welfare. Neither left nor right cares about God, true faith, or morals.

      • Art Deco

        You really should have engagement with something other than caricatures of your own manufacture.

      • Adam__Baum

        I am a complete conservative, and one aspect of it is financial conservatism. I have no love of money, I don’t even regard it as wealth (properly understood, it is a proxy for or a CLAIM on wealth). Although I have a degree in Economics, an MBA, and am a licensed CPA, among the best perspectives on wealth I ever heard was from my late grandmother, whose formal education ended at the dawn of high school. She said “caskets don’t come with pockets”. That terse little epigram properly disposes one to the repeated Biblical injunctions to remain detached from the shiniest of temporal baubles.

        My Parish recently constructed a new Church, before construction began, the Bishop insisted that one half of the cost of the construction was raised. That is financial conservatism, based squarely on the virtue of prudence.

        Financial conservatives do not abide by corporate welfare or ponzi schemes. You will inevitably find that the advocates and practitioners of those sorts of frauds are “limousine liberals” .

        Most of your comments are informed, this is not one of them. It is as Mr. Deco says “..caricatures of your own manufacture.”

      • IrishEddieOHara

        Thank you! Nice to see someone who understands that Conservatism is no friend of those who would follow Christ. If you want to see real Conservatism in action (i.e. bat crap crazy) read some of Ann Coulter’s rants.

        She is the essences of beautiful and not a brain in her head.

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  • Maolsheachlann

    This is interesting, because when I have heard various anti-Church people lauding the Cathars, I’ve thought: “You wouldn’t really like them if you knew they were actually more fanatical and narrow-minded than you take Catholicism to be”. But Mr. Krason’s article does show that many of their underlying assumptions– all based around the rejection of inherent purposes or goods in nature– are indeed similar to liberalism in many ways.

    It reminds me of the irony of the Chinese Communist government rejecting the Vernacular Mass because they didn’t want the Vatican telling Chinese Catholics what to do!!

  • Romulus

    Excellent article, but PLEASE refrain from using the word “gender” as a synonym for “sex”. This genteelism plays directly into the hands of radicals seeking to deconstruct the understanding of humanity as God-created, male and female. Pope Benedict XVI addressed precisely this politicized abuse of language, explicitly and at length, in his 2012 Christmas message to the Roman curia.

  • Barry Bozz

    Great Essay! The fundamental connection of Manichean and modern liberal thought( as well as Protestant guilt) is self-hatred and the desire to justify oneself by abnegating the latter through exalting former. Consider Luther. The man was haunted by his own sins and the intense desire to assuage those feelings. Rather than offer up his abject misery in humility to God’s mercy and allowing the slow, honest effort to transformation in Christ, accepting that we all painfully fail, and will fail again, he presumed on God’s Mercy through a legalistic feint of “Faith Alone”. No interior change required. The Cathari accomplish the same slight of hand through their reception of the consolementum, their last sacrament that stamped one’s ticket to paradise while allowing for sexual orgies and holding on to sin, until their last sacrament. Liberals attempt to avoid their self-hatred and, therefore, their ultimate dependence on God’s Mercy, by claiming sin is not a sin. To avoid and assuage their guilt, the liberal offers superior political insight that denies man’s fallen nature and imposes a slave human to the State.. The more I study history, the more I see that all heresy comes from our self-love which turns into self- hate which then attempts to justify that pride and avoid God’s Mercy which requires total trust and the presentation of our nothingness before Him.

    • 1rosemarie2

      Concerning Luther … his allegations were all based on the Holy Scriptures. Salvation by faith alone is plainly taught in the New Covenant -see Ephesians 2/8 for instance-.
      I do not understand the link between the “Albigensians”`s heresy and protestantism.
      The protestants were traditionally called “the people of the Book”. The traditional and more fundamental branches of protestantism consider that the Bible is the Word of God to you and me, that it is a final Word, to which we are to submit, without adding or taking away any part of it.-Book of Revelation 22/18-.

      There is no such submission with the Catharists … and dualism is not a biblical teaching, but seems to have its source in Persia of old.
      Manicheism may well be the spiritual origin of nazism -perfect people versus less than perfect- ?

      • Adam__Baum

        “Concerning Luther … his allegations were all based on the Holy Scriptures.”


        The scriptures teach that faith is is essential, but not sufficient.
        James 2:14-26. (hmm. yeah, that was the book Luther wanted to burn)
        Matt 7:21. etc, etc. You don’t get to “sin and sin boldly” because Christ plainly talked about doing the Father’s will.

        Whenever I see that sort of assertion, I’m reminded of two things: the injunction that the devil can quote scripture to his own end and the
        30,000+ denominations all claiming to be guided by sola scriptura and in wild disagreement about any number of topics.

        If you are going to place so much faith in Luther, you might want to observe some of the directives he placed on women. This is particularly apt:

        “…to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house,..”

        • 1rosemarie2

          Hello Adam …

          James -who by the way was a brother of our Lord- does not say that faith is not sufficient to be saved, since we are saved by faith alone. But he does say that faith is supposed to bear fruits in the lives of those touched by grace. In that sense, there is no true faith without works. It necessarily goes together. But faith precedes works that are pleasing to God because they are spiritual fruits and not carnal ones. Remember when the Apostle Paul wondered if he had taken a decision to visit in the flesh ? -just one example-.

          Concerning the division of the Protestants, you are right and I am truly sorry for this. It accounts for our ignorance of the full meaning of the whole Bible. But we are one on the fundamentals of the Faith.
          Christ alone is the incarnate Truth. We shall not give His glory to men.

          Now women ! That made me smile … The Scriptures have a lot of very profitable directive for women. And yes, they are more useful at home, with their children and neighbors. They are to dress with modesty, not to talk in the gathering of believers but receive the teaching quietly … why not ? in which way has ill conceived liberty and liberalism profited to women ? in no way at all. They are the great losers of our sad times.

          Not only has Islam called protestants the people of the Book … but this really does not matter. Because it is not who I am that is important, but who Christ is. And His Presence in the heart of believers is what gives them their true identity …

          God bless you !

          • Barry Bozz

            Dear Rose,
            I know you feel deeply about and are in union with Luther’s “Faith Alone” , as well as your loving our Lord passionately, but I would urge you to consider the following on natural theology terms. Common sense as Chesterton would say. I don’t want to argue scripture verse. That is too big of a scope for this forum.

            Let’s look at the meaning of “Faith”. There are two related understandings and distinctions of that word. There’s FAITH-THAT something happened. Christ rose from the dead, for example. But there is also “FAITH- IN” a person. One might believe that Christ rose from the dead but not have FAITH IN Christ. One might believe that God exists, but not have FAITH-IN God. I think Luther implicitly understood both, but he did not understand the latter’s implication for good works. His emphasis is on FAITH-THAT.

            As St Paul points out the greatest virtue is not Faith but Caritas, Love. Love is a good work and is distinct from, although perfected by, faith-in God. A person can love and have no faith at all. His love will be imperfect, but it is still love , at least on a human , natural level. Luther implies that Salvation comes through ‘faith-that’ alone, that Love, which is a good work is not required for Salvation. Yet, God is Love itself, Heaven is Love shared with all . Good works are ACTS of Love. It’s not the “fruit” of Faith but the perfection of Faith and through Faith the perfection of Love. Both are complimentary, but not the same.

            Luther claims that Love on a natural level is corrupt and really a delusional self-love. The Catholic Church claims all love, even on a natural level is good, but through faith-in God is raised to a supernatural level, and is essential to salvation. All Love is a good work, even the Love of God that you have.

            God Bless Rose.

            • 1rosemarie2

              I think you are right in your distinction of at least two kind of Faiths.

              Love Agape is God`s love, perfect in patience, long-suffering, endurance etc… all encompassing, eternal, always welcoming, stretching His arms all day long to a rebellious people -Isaiah-
              God in His grace wants to share this Agape love with us for people to see Him and His Name be glorified. If a work that is done is done without love, it is a ‘filthy rag” for all our natural works are counted by God, the Judge of great and small, as filthy rags -Isaiah again if I am not mistaken.

              The point is Barry, that if we stand only one minute outside the frame of the Word of God, we err in our thinking and quickly build wrong theologies. When in China, the hundred of thousands of new believers were without Scriptures, there came up all kind of funny doctrines. According to one of them, people were to be baptized upside down ! And in another congregation, people would be continuously backbiting each other, eating each other up on matters of holiness, things that God had never said … so we need the Word and the Catholic Charismatic movement has understood this very well. Some of those dear believers are killing their bibles while they devour them on a daily basis and know the Word often better than I.
              Christ is the Incarnate Word. People listening to Him could not understand He had not passed by the rabbinic school ! and yet He knew and understood it all … how can we do without His words, sweet as honey, truthful and gracious ?

              Yes, God bless you all very much,

              I say it from the depth of the heart God gave me for you …

          • Adam__Baum

            It is the very definition of blasphemy to spead the noxious theology of Luther and say “God Bless You.”. Luther was in modern parlance, a maniac. Don’t tell me Luther was faithful to the Scriptures and keep talking.
            Jesus said you will know them by their fruits. Protestestants aren’t just divided, they are fractious and united only in their opposition to Catholicism. It doesn’t matter how wildly different Luther, Calvin, Wesley or any of the “reformers” were-good thing is they weren’t “papists”. Interesting to this day Britain still has an “Act of Settlement” barring Roman Catholics from succession, but no such impairment is placed on Muslims.
            Because just about anybody can engage in half-witted exigesis,such as what you present in defense of Sola Fide any lunacy can emerge . So you have people declaring themselves “saved”, telling others to prepare for the “rapture”. handling snakes, lending ecclesial approval to same sex weddings (now let’s be very clear-Luther was the one that promulgated the idea that marriage was a civil affair to be managed

            • 1rosemarie2

              Your comment is very interesting Adam and I want to read it and think on it correctly … so I shall answer later.
              Thanks !

            • 1rosemarie2

              All right for the etiology of the term … granted I am in no way an academic.
              I just want to reply to the rejection of Catholicism.
              There is a real difference in Scripture -again !- between the rejection of the sin, which is a universal feature found under any theology, and rejecting the sinner. Christ welcomed sinners. He came for them as the doctor of doctors !
              The Old Covenant distinguishes between willful sin and sin that is not committed willfully. We all sin, one way or another.-see for instance the Letter of James. That makes us equal before God. I have no personal right to reject the Catholics, any of them. I actually love and serve them.
              But I do reject the specificity of Catholic theology. And was educated Catholic by the way.
              I think Adam, the only way to avoid wrong theology is to stick to the Word of God. Granted, we shall still make mistakes and sin in many ways against it, but by God`s grace, the more we stick to Scripture, the more we obey our Lord, the less vulnerable we are “to be carried away by every wind of doctrine.”

              I still wish you showers of blessings,

        • Barry Bozz

          Adam, all true. The Luther quote “sin boldly” comes from Luther’s work “Table Talks”. It underlines Luther’s belief that man can never become a Saint. That’s why he rejected purgatory. one can’t be purged if one is evil at the core. That is also why Luther threw out the Books of Maccabees 1&2 because it urged the Jews to pray for the dead.

          • IrishEddieOHara

            Luther is perhaps (I cannot say for sure, but I would bet rather good money on it) in hell regretting his intemperate, rebellious, and stupid decisions.

            • Barry Bozz

              I once read somewhere that it might go better for Hitler on Judgement Day than for Luther because although Hitler deprived millions of their lives, Luther deprived millions of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Hopefully, Christ’s Mercy prevailed and snatched Luther from the jaws of perdition. I daily pray for the souls in Purgatory, and I make a special plea for that one soul who has languished there the longest of all..maybe Luther?

      • Barry Bozz

        Hi rose, The link between the Cathars is the proto-protestant Waldensians. Aside from the practical rejections of the Catholic sacraments and authority of the above sects, Luther and then Calvin, who brought Luther’s teachings to it logical conclusion, shared with the Cathari the belief that man is fundamentally evil. The Catholic Church teaches that man was wounded by original sin, but through faith and good works (prompted by grace) Man could be, is, transformed into a Saint, made perfect. Luther taught that man was totally corrupted by the O.S. and only by faith alone is he saved. Man does not change or transform, but remains a corrupt tangle of sin. Indeed nature itself became evil and was always suspect. But through faith alone Christ’s death and resurrection, God ignores the trash,Man, sort of like, garbage covered with snow after a storm. When Calvin taught predestination ( Luther reluctantly agreed) you now had man without free will and divided into two groups, the Elect and the Damned. Hence the dualism implicit in Protestant teaching.

        Cathar teachings shared by the Waldensians became defining
        features of Protestant belief. Many of these teachings follow
        from the rejection of Roman Catholic “tradition” in favour
        of scripture. Examples include the rejection of a priesthood,
        the rejection of graven images and the idolatry associated
        with them, and a rejection of the Roman Church’s sacraments.

        Protestants, like Cathars, rejected the Roman Catholic
        doctrine of transubstantiation and infant baptism. Like
        Cathars and Waldensians , Protestant Churches encourage laymen to read the scriptures for themselves. Most accept women as ministers, . Protestant theology is that of mitigated dualism, embracing predestination and rejecting the Catholic position on Free Will. Protestants, like Cathars, reject the Roman Catholic notion
        of Purgatory, along with the practice of praying for the
        dead, and the entire system of indulgences. In the last
        century, mainstream Protestant Churches moved closer still
        to the beliefs of the Cathars. Contraception is not merely
        permitted but positively encouraged by Protestant theologians.

        • 1rosemarie2

          You say so many things altogether … it is a problem to remember it all !
          I will only tell the points of disagreement. The Scriptures reject women as ministers. This is the right doctrine. Anyone, Jew or Protestant accepting women as ministers is tackling wrong doctrine.
          Predestination and free will are both taught equally by the Scriptures. Truth is often apparently contradictory … I think as far as this point is concerned, this is because God always gave us choice, from the beginning. The tree of knowledge of good and evil was in the midst of the Garden of Eden. Adam was asked not to touch it less he dies .. and Eve took it, gave it to her husband for taste -beware listening to your wife !- and came the fall through a sinful choice of disobedience to God. So in the garden, there was predestination to everlasting life and fellowship with God, choice as to obedience side by side. Bad choice was made. Sin entered the world through man`s seed. How do we know ? Isaiah again tells us “There is no one that does not sin” “All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone to His own way” and Paul in the Letter to the Romans “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. Here we are with our pride !
          David in a psalm says “I was a sinner from my mother`s womb”
          How come ? is not even a child considered as innocent by the Scriptures ? here, we are talking of accountibility, responsibility before God and before men.

          So God has not created mankind in His own image as a puppet. Man has choice, for the best and for the worse.

          “Choose life that you may live !” Deuteronomy

          I must leave you now,
          Blessings !

      • IrishEddieOHara

        You have been reading too many Chick tracts and books poisonous to your spiritual health. Just because Luther invented a new doctrine and you happen to like it does not make it truth.

        You need to go back in time and study what the Apostles taught rather than reading books by heretics. There is no safety for your soul in Protestantism.

  • John from South Hills PA

    It is a good thing that Dr. Krason calls attention to this early episode in medieval Christian history. But linking it to today is really a bit too forced, and the Albigensians and Cathars were not really the foreunners of Protestantism – Calvin condemned them! Alas, I wish Dr. Krason would have kept to a good historical analysis which he started rather than resorting to using the Albigensians to smear contemporary political rivals. BTW, isn’t this the same Dr. Krason who found time to endorse Mitt Romney despite his pro-abortion record, and not to be too mean, but I suppose if an Albigensian was a member of the GOP, Dr. Krason would probably make for allowances….

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  • Ignatz

    As I recall, the mass slaughter of the Albigensians is still considered one of the biggest atrocities ever perpetrated by the Catholic Church.

    Feed the poor. Heal the sick. House the homeless. Stop straining out gnats and swallowing camels.

    • IrishEddieOHara

      You missed the whole point of the article, didn’t you? Not only were the Albigensians crazy, they were trouble makers. There came a point in time when the civil disruption they were causing could no longer be tolerated. Trying to kill civil officials will generally bring the wrath of the authorities squarely down upon your head.

  • Southernationalist

    I am a Virginian an Englishman and a Protestant and I will never bend my knee to a foreigner in Rome. Thank God for Good King Henry.

    • quisutDeusmpc

      …who denied the Faith so he could commit adultery. How….?noble? Today we call that….adultery…and misogyny (considering he later had the young lady’s head lopped off for not producing an heir)…rather, thank God for Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher:

      “Friend, on this scaffold Thomas More lies dead /
      Who would not cut the Body from the Head.”
      J. V. Cunningham, “Friend, on this scaffold”

      now there is an Englishman worth his weight in salt.

    • Adam__Baum

      No, you’ll bend your knee to other men. Of course, If you favor the crown so much, move to England, but be ready to renounce your protestantism or be a pez dispenser, since “good King Henry”‘s ultimate legacy will likely be Englandistan. Of course before that, the world will continue subordinating marriage to the state.

    • IrishEddieOHara

      Quite frankly, seeing that you reject the Church that Christ established upon St. Peter, reject authority over you, and don’t have a clue as to what good theology is, I would just call you plain old stupid.

  • IrishEddieOHara

    Nothing new under the sun, is there?

  • AP Terhune

    Best thing on the subject ever written (except possibly for the essay mentioned at the start, which I have yet to read).

    I was reading about the Albigensians recently and failed to find any cogent analysis, or insights about how it corresponded to current fads; even though this was a subject crying out for treatment. Now serendipitously I stumble across this thing. Wow. Marvelous.