The Albigensian Crusade (3)

August 10, 2021
Source: FSSPX Spirituality
Monségur Fortress, stronghold of the Cathars or Albigensians

This text is an extract from the apologetic work of Jean Guiraud, Histoire partiale, histoire vraie (Beauchesne editions, 1912). Jean Guiraud dismantles piece by piece the false arguments of anticlericalism. A chapter is devoted to the Crusade against the Albigensians. The first part summarized the arguments of the anticlerics and showed their contradictions. The second and third examine the doctrine of the Albigensians.

After considering the morality of Albigensianism and its negation of marriage, we must note its fundamental licentiousness and its rejection of the family.

Marriage and Libertinism

The heretics had such an aversion to marriage that they went so far as to declare that libertinism was preferable to it and that it was more serious “to do the act of the flesh with his wife than with another woman.”

This was not a joke, for they gave a reason for this opinion which was entirely in accordance with their principles. It can often happen, they said, that one is ashamed of one's misconduct; in this case, if we indulge in it, we do it in secret. It is therefore always possible that one will repent and cease; and thus, almost always, libertinism is hidden and temporary.

On the contrary, what is particularly serious in the state of marriage is that one is not ashamed of it and that one does not think of withdrawing from it, because one does not suspect the harm that is done there. This explains the really strange condescension the Perfects showed for the disorders of their adherents.

They themselves made a profession of perpetual chastity, fleeing with horror the slightest occasion of impurity; and yet they admitted the concubines of the Believers into their society and made them participate in their most sacred rites, even when they had no intention of amending themselves.

The Believers themselves had no qualms about retaining their mistresses while accepting the direction of the Perfects. Among the Believers who, around 1240, flocked to the preaching of Bertrand Marty, in Montségur, we can distinguish several false couples: “Guillelma Calveta, lover of Pierre Vitalis, Willelmus Raimundi of Roqua and Arnauda his lover, Pierre Aura and Boneta and his wife’s lover, Raimunda lover of Othon de Massabrac.”

These concubines and bastards, who so often appear in Cathar assemblies, have caused these heretics to be accused of the most foul turpitude. It has been said that their rigorous doctrines were only a mask under which the worst excesses were concealed. Gauthier and Deschamps echo these accusations when they present the Albigensians as simple people, of peaceful and not austere morals.

On the other hand, it is certain that the populations very often allowed themselves to be won over by the impression of austerity that the Perfects gave to them and that is what is alluded to by Aulard and Debidour, Rogie and Despiques when they talk about the pure morals of these heretics.

It is easy to resolve this apparent contradiction by remembering that there were two kinds of Albigensians: the Believers who sympathized with the Cathar doctrines and were not completely under their influence; and the Perfects who fully adhered to it and practiced all of its prescriptions.

As long as the Believers had not received the full initiation, if need be they could live with a woman, but outside the bonds of marriage. Any sexual intercourse was undoubtedly bad, but cohabitation could be tolerated, but not marriage because, in the event of complete initiation, it seemed easier to sever an illegal bond.

Negation of the Family

It is unnecessary to dwell at length on the antisocial consequences of such a doctrine. It aimed at nothing less than the suppression of the essential element of all society, the family, by making of the whole of humanity a vast religious congregation without recruitment and without a future.

While awaiting the advent of this state of affairs, which was to emerge from the triumph of the Cathar ideas, the Perfects gradually broke, as a result of the progress of their apostolate, the family ties already formed.

Whoever wanted to be saved, before submitting to the law of rigorous chastity, the husband must left the wife, the wife the husband, the parents must abandon the children, fleeing a domestic hearth which inspired them only with horror, because the heresy taught them “that no one can save himself by staying with his father and mother.” And so all domestic morality disappeared, along with the family which was its raison d'être.

This hatred of the family was, moreover, among the Albigensians only a particular form of their aversion to anything foreign to their sect. They refrained from any relationship with anyone who did not think like them, except when they deemed it possible to win them over to their own doctrines, and they made the same recommendation to their Believers.

On the day of the examination of conscience or apparelhamentum, which presented itself every month, they demanded from the Believers a severe account of the relations which they had had with the infidels. And this is understandable: they considered their fellow man only he who, like them, had become by consolamentum, a son of God.

As for the others who had remained in the evil world, they somehow belonged to another race and were strangers not to say enemies.