Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The medieval church’s ideological warfare

By R.I. Moore
Published by Harvard University Press, $35

 Long ago and far away, in lands now known as Southern France and Northern Italy, many people the church considered “bad” lived in small villages scattered throughout the countryside. They were known by various names -- Cathars, Waldensians, Manichees, Albigensians and Donatists. What they had in common was that their ideas were seen as wrong, a threat to the unity of Christian Europe. They therefore had to be snuffed out.

 This was in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries. Their offense was heresy -- to believe or express an idea contrary to what was taught by the Roman Catholic church, and to refuse to “correct” that “wrong” idea. To refuse was to be tried, convicted and killed -- usually burned alive at the stake in the town square as an example to those who might insist on having ideas of their own. All this was by order of the church. The popes, who had already sent crusaders to the Holy Land to reclaim Jerusalem, would periodically send a local crusade to Southern France.

 But that was more than 800 years ago, and nothing like that could happen today. Is that clear?

Click here to read this book review from the National Catholic Reporter