Pauperes Cathollci

Pauperes Cathollci (i.e. Poor Catholics) was the name of a Romish order which was formed in the 12th century, and confirmed by pope Innocent III. It consisted of Waldenses who had conformed to the dominant Church. Some ecclesiastics from the south of France, who had once been Waldensians, took the lead in the formation of this order, particularly a person named Durand de Osca. It maintained itself for some time in Catalonia. The design of this society is thus described by Neander: "The ecclesiastics and better educated were to busy themselves with preaching, exposition of the Bible, religious instruction, and combating the sects; but all the laity who were not qualified to exhort the people and combat the sects should occupy houses by themselves, where they were to live in a pious and orderly manner. This spiritual society, so remodeled, should endeavor to bring about a reunion of all the Waldenses with the Church. As the Waldenses deemed it unchristian to shed blood and to swear, and the presiding officers of the new spiritual society begged the pope that those who were disposed to join them should be released from all obligation of complying with customs of this sort, the pope granted at their request that all such as joined them should not be liable to be called upon for military service against Christians, nor to take oath in civil processes, adding, indeed, the important clause — so far as this rule could be observed in a healthful manner without injury or offense to others, and especially with the permission of the secular lords. In Italy and Spain also the zeal of these representatives of the Church tendency among the Waldenses seemed to meet with acceptance. The pope gladly lent a hand in promoting its more general spread, and he was inclined to grant to those who came over to it, when they had once become reconciled to the Church, various marks of favor. But he insisted on unconditional submission, and refused to enter into any conditional engagements." The principles of the Waldenses were too firmly rooted to be seriously affected by the society of the Pauperes Catholici, and accordingly it is said to have died away.

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