Catharism

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Catharism was a name given to a Christian religious sect with dualistic and gnostic elements that appeared in the Languedoc region of France and other parts of Europe in the 11th century and flourished in the 12th and 13th centuries. Catharism had its roots in the Paulician movement in Armenia and the Bogomils of Bulgaria with whom the Paulicians merged. They also became influenced by dualist and Manichaean beliefs.

Contents

Introduction

Like many medieval movements, there were various schools of thought and practice amongst the Cathari; some were dualistic (believing in a God of Good and a God of Evil), others Gnostic, some closer to orthodoxy while abstaining from an acceptance of Catholicism. The dualist theology was the most prominent, however, and was based upon an asserted complete incompatibility of love and power. As matter was seen as a manifestation of power, it was believed to be incompatible with love.

The Cathari did not believe in one all-encompassing god, but in two, both equal and comparable in status. They held that the physical world was evil and created by Rex Mundi (translated from Latin as "king of the world"), who encompassed all that was corporeal, chaotic and powerful; the second god, the one whom they worshipped, was entirely disincarnate: a being or principle of pure spirit and completely unsullied by the taint of matter. He was the god of love, order and peace.

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