Cathãri (Κάαρο…, Pure) Or Catharists (q. d. Puritans), a name applied at different times in Church history to different sects; all, however, characterized by aiming at, or at least pretending to, peculiar purity of life and manners.
1. It was assumed by the Novatians in the third century, who excluded from the Church all who fell into sin after baptism. SEE NOVATIANS.
2. The name of Cathari was also given in the twelfth century to the sects of the Albigenses, Vaudois, Patarini, and others.
The Roman Catholic historians abound in frightful accounts of the heresies and immoralities of all these sects, to whom they attributed all the bad men and bad deeds of their times. Some modern Protestant writers, yielding too ready credence to the Roman historians, treat of the Cathari as if they were all dualists, if not Manichaeans. The truth seems to be that the origin of most, if not all, of the sects above named is to be sought in circumstances of general operation, and principally in a prevailing sense of the corruptions of the dominant Church, and of her perversions of Gospel truth. That some of the sects thus originated professed dualistic doctrines is not to be doubted; that all were corrupt in doctrine and life is probably an invention of their persecutors. SEE ALBIGENSES.
1. History. — The origin of the Cathari is unknown; the name itself, however, is Greek, and indicates an Oriental origin. That an earnest spirit of protest against the corruptions of Rome arose in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, and manifested itself especially about the thirteenth century, is certain; but the doctrines and some of the rites of the really dualistic Cathari were doubtless derived from the East. It was formerly thought that the Cathari were lineal descendants of the Manichees of the third and fourth centuries; but this view is now abandoned. There is no subtle religious philosophy like that of the Manicheeans found among the Cathari; their whole system was popular rather than mysterious. "According to the Manichees, the creation is the result of the union of the soul of the world with matter, while the Cathari taught that the whole material creation was exclusively the work of the evil principle. Above all, there is among them no trace of the profound personal reverence for Manes, and worship of his memory, which was one essential characteristic of the genuine Manichees, who looked upon their founder as the Paraclete promised by Jesus to his disciples. The Priscillianists succeeded the Manichees in the West, and the Paulicians in the East; yet these latter, properly Syrian Gnostics, execrated Manes. The Paulicians were thought by Mosheim, Gibbon, and Maitland to have been the immediate religious ancestors of the Cathari. It is well known that numbers of those religionists were transplanted into Thrace by Constantine Copronymus about the middle of the eighth century. Yet the Paulicians had no rites or ceremonies whatever, no ecclesiastical or hierarchical organization; they were strangers to ascetic abstinence from animal food, and did not condemn marriage. Such radical differences as these will not allow us to suppose the heterodox movement of Southern and Western Europe to have been a simple transplantation of Asiatic Paulicianism, though this sect may have contributed in some measure — more or less — directly to the formation of Catharism. The fact seems to be that Dualism manifested itself in Christendom at different periods under various successive and independent forms" (Lond. Quart. Review, 4:10). Schmidt assigns it a Slavonic origin (South Macedonia), and ascribes its introduction into Italy to Slavonic traders. The first Cathari in Italy were found about A.D. 1035 near Turin, and their chief and others were burned. By the twelfth century they were established at various points, from Upper Italy to Calabria. A Romanist writer has recently sought to show that Dante was a Catharist (Aroux, Dante heretique, Paris, 1854; and Chef de la Comedie Anti-catholique de Dante Alighieri, Paris, 1856). In the thirteenth century, Pungilovo, said to have been a Catharist, but a man of eminent charity and goodness, came near being canonized by the Roman Church. SEE CANONIZATION. The greatest successes of the Catharists in Western Europe were in the south of France, where they were either identical with the Albigenses, or confounded with them. SEE ALBIGENSES. During the twelfth century they, and all other dissidents from Rome, suffered grievous local persecutions; but there "had been no general, persevering, systematic attempt to exterminate them. Meantime they had spread from Constantinople to Spain; they were masters in the Slavonic provinces which now form the north-east of Turkey; they were formidable in Lombardy; they had audaciously insinuated themselves into the pontifical city itself; above all, the only transalpine nation that had emerged from barbarism had almost thrown off its allegiance to Rome; heresy sat enthroned in a central region, whence, in one generation, it could spread over France, Spain, and Italy. The Church was in peril; but the year 1198 witnessed the beginning of a pontificate in which an iron will was to put forth in her service all the resources of rare intrepidity, unremitting vigilance, and far-seeing sagacity. Innocent III was the very incarnation of the idea of the papacy; he was distinguished by precisely the sort of character and talents which were qualified to effect the purposes of the hierarchy of which he was the head." During his pontificate, the cruel crusades against the Albigenses and Cathari, which have made the names of Innocent and Dominic notorious in history, swept away thousands of Catharist Dualists and of simple-minded Albigenses together. SEE ALBIGENSES. There were congregations of them enough to constitute whole dioceses in the thirteenth century; but the Inquisition, directed by Innocent III, and established by the Council of Toulouse, 1229, for the search and suppression of heresy, pursued them relentlessly; so that after the fourteenth century no traces of them are to be found.
2. Doctrines. — The heretical Cathari held to Dualism, i.e. to God as the original good, and to an evil principle as the author of evil. This is a simple, and, to an uneducated mind, a natural solution of the problem of the origin of evil. The absolute Dualists held that the evil principle was an original one as well as the good. The struggle between them is eternal. "It was believed that some souls had been created by the evil being, and, of course, would never be saved. Such were all atrocious criminals, tyrants, persecutors, enemies of God and of his Church. Others, created by the good God, had been seduced from the heavenly world above by Satan, who disguised himself, for the purpose, as an angel of beauty and light. These were condemned to expiate their offense in earthly bodies, and to pass from one body to another, sometimes even, as an additional punishment, assuming the shape of animals, until, at last, they should obtain deliverance from their terrestrial hell by being admitted into the true Church. The consolamentum (see below) reunites the exiles to their guardian angels (called 'Holy Ghost' or 'Paraclete'), of whom there is a distinct one for every soul of heavenly creation. St. Paul, in particular, had successively inhabited thirty-two bodies. Of course there was to be no real resurrection." The majority of the Cathari held to a more moderate form of Dualism. Of this class were the Bogomiles (q.v.) in Slavonia and the East; and in Italy, the Concorensians or Concorezenses, so called from a corruption of the name of the town Coriza, in Dalmatia. They held to one God, who created matter from nothing; but the arrangement of matter into the existing form of thee visible world, in which so much evil exists, was due, not to God, but to a fallen spirit — an exceedingly mighty angel, who seduced a third of the heavenly host. The absolute Dualists held that all souls came to the earth at once; the Concorensians maintained that Adam and Eve were created (their Lodiesly the evil power, their souls from God), and that all souls are derived from them. Hence the metempsychosis of the absolute duality had no lace in their system. The Word of God, both in the O.T. and N.T., was interpretedly the Catharists to suit their dualistic theory. Jesus Christ, the highest of created beings, was sent from heaven to teach the captive spirits the secret of setting themselves free from the chains of matter and of evil. He came in an ethereal body, which had only the appearance of the human form; for, as he said of himself, he is "from above" (Joh 8:23), or, as St. Paul said, "from heaven" (1Co 15:47). He expressly denied having inherited anything from his mother (Joh 2:4). He had but the likeness of flesh (Ro 8:8; Php 2:8). It was for this reason that he could walk upon the water; and this was the glory revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration. His death, not being real, was but an apparent triumph of the evil one.
In Ethics, all classes of Cathari held that sin is "the lust after the created." The world, as the work of the evil one, is evil, and all contact with it leads to sin. Among mortal sins were wealth, war, killing of animals (except fish), carnal connection, whether in or out of wedlock (inasmuch as it increases the number of fallen souls). Purification from sin was to be obtained by renouncing the world and entering the Church of the Cathari, out of which salvation could not be had.
3. Usages. — The various sects of Cathari agreed very generally in their usages, however they might differ in doctrine. There were two classes of members, the perfect (perfecti) and simple believers (credentes). The former were admitted by the "spirit baptism," called the consolamentum, the ceremony being a simple imposition of hands. (Water baptism was rejected.) By the imposition of hands the Holy Ghost was said to be imparted, and the recipient became one of the perfect. To this class belonged the authority of the Church; they administered its rites, and governed it as successors of the apostles. A manuscript in the Romance language was discovered in 1851, and is now in the Palais des Arts at Lyons. It was published by Cunitz, Jena, 1852; also in the Strasburger Beitrage z. d. theol. Wissenschaften, vol. 4:1852. It contains a short liturgy, beginning with the Lord's Prayer, the Doxology, and the first seventeen verses of St. John's Gospel in Latin. Then follow in Provencal, first, an act of confession; secondly, an act of reception among the number of believers; thirdly, an act of reception among the number of Christians or Perfects; fourthly, some special directions for the faithful; and, lastly, an act of consolation in case of sickness. The formula for the act of confession terminates with the following prayer:
O thou holy and good Lord, all these things which happen to us, in our senses and in our thoughts, to thee we do manifest them, holy Lord; and all the multitude of sins we lay upon the mercy of God, and upon holy prayer, and upon the holy Gospel; for many are our sins. O Lord, judge and condemn the vices of the flesh; have no mercy on the flesh born of corruption, but have mercy on the spirit placed in prison, and administer to us days and hours, and genuflexions, and fasts, and orisons, and preachings, as is the custom of good Christians, that we may not be judged nor condemned in the day of judgment with felons.
The first degree of initiation, or the act of reception into the number of believers, is called "the delivery of the orison," because a copy of the Lord's Prayer was given to the neophyte. It begins thus:
If a believer is in abstinence, and the Christians are agreed to deliver him the orison, let them wash their hands, and the believers present likewise. And then one of the bons hommes, the one that comes after the elder, is to make three bows to the elder, and then to prepare a desk (desc), then three more bows, and then he is to put a napkin (touala) upon the desk, and then three more bows, and then he is to put the book upon the napkin, and then let him say the Benedicite, parcite nobis. And then let the believer make his salute, and take the book from the hand of the elder. And the elder must admonish him, and preach from fitting testimonies (that is, texts). And if the believer's name is Peter, he is to say, "Sir Peter, you must understand that when you are before the Church of God, you are before the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. For the Church is called 'assembly;' and where are the true Christians, there is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." The final initiation, or consolamentum, is called "the baptism of the Spirit." Here is an extract from the formula of its celebration:
Jesus Christ says, in the Acts of the Apostles, that "John surely baptized with water; but ye shill be baptized with the Holy Ghost." This holy baptism of imposition of hands wrought Jesus Christ, according as St.
Luke reports; and he said that his friends should work it, as reports St. Mark: "They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall receive good." And Ananias wrought this baptism on St. Paul when he was converted.- And afterwards Paul and Barnabas wrought it in many places. And St. Peter and St. John wrought it on the Samaritans . . . This holy baptism, by which the Holy Spirit is given, the Church of God has had it from the apostles until now; and it has come down from bons hommes to bols hommes, and will do so to the end of the world.
The perfecti were bound to special fasting and abstinence — from property, and from marriage. They had signs by which their persons, and even their houses, could be recognized by the initiated. Rainerius (who apostatized from Catharism to the Church of Rome) estimated the number of "the perfect" at about 4000 in all Europe. The credentes, or simple believers, were not subject to the special restrictions named above, but were bound to confession to their ministers, and to seek the consolamentum before death, as essential to salvation unattainable by the great mass of mankind. With them, quite as much as with the Roman Catholics, salvation was made to depend upon adhesion to a given religious community; and as the auditors generally put off receiving the consolamentum to the hour of death, this ceremony became invested with a magical virtue, like the sacraments of the dominant Church.
Their religious services were entirely free from the pomp and display of the Established Church. The places of worship were destitute of ornaments, crosses, and images; at one end was a simple table, covered with a cloth, on which lay the New Testament. Worship consisted of reading the Scripture, exposition of it, and prayer. They rejected the baptism of the Church of Rome both because the hierarchy was not the true one, and because water was created by the evil god; and yet, with some inconsistency, they substituted the blessing and breaking of bread, without wine, for the Romish eucharist.
The excellent writer in the London Review, whom we have cited, makes the following just remarks upon the source of the false views of the Cathari, as existing in all ages: "Is there no overt Manichaeism displayed in our own day in the false asceticism of the Puseyite; and if there be no latent Manichaeism in the views of the extremely opposite section of Protestants, whence the tendency to treat human nature as intrinsically evil, not as merely subjected to evil; to make human powers, physical and mental, evil in their use, and not merely in their abuse; to identify society and its institutions with 'the world,' against which the Christian is forewarned? No; however it may disguise itself, and however its manifestations may be varied, that has ever been one and the same instinct of self-justification, hidden in the recesses of the heart, which treats sin as a something external to the will, and, to a certain extent, inevitably imposed; which makes holiness and faithfulness to God consist in something easier than the abdication of the idol self. This insidious instinct stops at no sacrifices provided it can maintain itself. It inspired the stern 'Touch not, taste not, handle not,' of the earliest Gnostics of the apostolic times (Col 2:21); and it has worked, with more or less intensity, in every age of the Christian Church."
4. Literature. — The Roman sources are Bonacorsi, in D'Achery, Spicil. 1:208; Moneta, adv. Catharos et Valdenses (Romans 1743); Rainerius (about 1250), whose account is analyzed by Maitland, Facts and Documents on the History, etc. of the Albigenses and Waldenses (Lond. 1832). The recent writers are Neander, Ch. Hist. 4:565 sq.; Maitland (as above); Schmidt, Hist. et Doct. de la Secte des Cathares (Par. 1849, 2 vols. 8vo); Hahn, Geschichte d. Ketzer im Mittelalt r (Stuttgart, 1845-47). See also London Review, April, 1855, art. 1; Gieseler, Ch. History, 2, § 84, 87; Hahn, in Studien u. Kritiken, 1852, Heft. 4; Schmidt, in Herzog's Real- Encyklopädie, 7:461 sq.