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I'm interested by Catharism. Is there anywhere in Christendom where this faith has reappeared since being suppressed in the Middle Ages?

I know that today some people in France, near Spain, are called Cathars, because they are living on the territory where the Cathars lived. But, from what I know, there are no believers in Catharism there.

  • I'm quite sure the belief died out. Apparently the Cathars believed a number of things inconsistent with most branches of Christianity, and their teachings were quite successfully and violently suppressed by Rome. – Bit Chaser Sep 8 '15 at 7:50
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    One group at theogamy.com [may be offline] seems to say they're trying to recreate the ideas. The one in John the Celt's answer apparently claims continuity, and seems to suggest their beliefs were very poorly described. – Bit Chaser Sep 17 '15 at 11:33
  • Waldensians still exist, and identify with Calvinism. – Lucian Nov 4 '19 at 5:24
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Full followers of Catharism were known as 'Perfects'. They would commit to a specific ascetic lifestyle, and would on their death ascend to heaven. Other lesser followers of Catharism would be reincarnated to get another chance.

Unfortunately to be a Perfect, you need to be inducted by another Perfect. Since there are no more Perfects, no-one can become one. The last leader of the Cathar movement fully admitted that he was not a full Perfect, because no Perfects remained to induct him. Therefore Catharism has effectively died out.

The Perfect Heresy by Stephan O'Shea is a good book for those wanting to know more.

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    I'm confused. Since he died as not being a "Perfect", in his mind he would be reincarnated. So there is still a possibility that he is someone alive today? What a confusing denomination. :P – NealC Sep 8 '15 at 16:33
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    Which raises the question "Where did the first Perfect come from?" – Matt Gutting Sep 8 '15 at 17:31
  • actualy perfect is NOT the word used to speak about the ones who should go in heaven by the cathars... in french the words were « les bons Chrétiens » wich means "the good Christians". the word "perfect" was used by the inquisition wich certainly used the same argumentation than the one in this answer! So for me this answer is INCORRECT. Anyway, I will check for the book "The Perfect Heresy" if I can found it. – The Unholy Metal Machine Sep 8 '15 at 21:18
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    @bob-theunholymetalmachine I just quoting the sources I have. Either way, the name used doesn't affect the argument. – DJClayworth Sep 9 '15 at 18:55
  • @TheUnholyMetalMachine Actually you are incorrect in this matter. The proper French was indeed the « Parfaits »: Les cathares et ceux qu'on appelait « Parfaits » ou « Bonshommes », qui jouaient en quelque sorte le rôle de prêtres, devaient observer des règles très strictes. - Les catharses. I lived in France and this was the exact term (“parfaits”) used for the Cathars. – Ken Graham Aug 9 '19 at 23:17
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Does the group Cathars exist today?

There is a group that call themselves "The Assembly of good Christians". They make the claim that they are a remnant of the ancient heterodox Cathars. They self-identify in there their blog catharnet.blogspot.com . That being said they claim to value or practice pacifism in all things, vegetarianism, not taking oaths of any kind to name a few.

They recognize the authority of the bible the apocrypha and many of what has been called the Gnostic texts. They call themselves a small house-church movement with groups in North America, Western Europe and the Balkans. Be aware that there seems to be no movement on their blog since 2009 and many of their links are not functional.

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  • catharnet.blogspot.com doesn't even work now! Please edit this to add a website that actually works (maybe a wordpress one instead?) – curiousdannii Sep 17 '15 at 6:53
  • archive.org might be a good resource for looking up no longer published information (and when it went out of print!). Then edit your findings into this answer including citing any relevant bits. – Caleb Sep 17 '15 at 9:32
  • catharchurch.wordpress.com - another page suggests they may be closing down websites soon. wwwcatharnet.blogspot.com - was written in 2009. – Bit Chaser Sep 17 '15 at 11:14
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  • catharchurch.wordpress.com/about there is two postal adresses (france) and their phone numbers: La Flamme Cathare 36, chemin de la Narrade 31400 Toulouse. Carrefours Cathares Maison de l’Occitanie 11 rue Malcousinat 31000 Toulouse. I will check both of them during the week end and eventually contact them directly. – The Unholy Metal Machine Sep 17 '15 at 15:56
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Yes, there are still some followers of Catharism in Italy who keep alive the dualist faith.

http://catarismo.iobloggo.com/

http://dragovitsa.iobloggo.com/

Best wishes, Pietro

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The French philosopher Simone Weil was a neo-Cathar.

She wrote a letter circa 1940 in which "she spoke of her admiration for the Catharist movement and used the word adherence as opposed to curiosity" (Joseph Marie Perrin, O.P., Simone Weil As We Knew Her pt. 1, ch. 6, fn. 2).

Like the Cathars, Weil

  • rejected the Old Testament,
    • The Cathars rejected the Old Testament in part because they thought the material world and marriage (cf. Gen. 1:28: "be fruitful and multiply") are evil.
  • was a dualist,
  • was a revolutionary, anarchist, and Trotskyite,
    • Cathars were also revolutionaries, being against oaths, the bedrock of feudalism and medieval society.
  • starved herself to death, a "virtuous" act Albigenses/Cathars called the endura.
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Are there any followers of Catharism today?

The short answer is yes and no.

But first, let me explain.

Le catharisme était mort avec le dernier Parfait, puisque la filiation apostolique s’était interrompue; le Consolament, qui se transmettait de Bonshommes en Bonshommes, ne pouvait plus faire office de sacrement en l’absence d’une personne qualifiée pour l’administrer. - [Peut-on être cathare au XXIème siècle? Rencontre de Roque fixate 2009](Peut-on être cathare au XXIème siècle? Rencontre de Roquefixade 2009)

Catharism died with the death of the last perfect, since the “apostolic” line had been interrupted ...

In other words, there were no more “qualified” persons to pass on their faith.

There is a neo-Catharism movement in France, started by Yves Maris in 2000s. For him the death of the last “parfait” is not something insurmountable, but obtainable.

Here is the French text:

Cette année 2009, en ce week-end de la Pentecôte, a eu lieu la première assemblée (Ekklesia en grec) de la diversité cathare. Et malgré l'absence cruelle, pour raison de santé, de son instigateur Yves Maris, un certain nombre de participants n'ont pas craint d'afficher leur foi et leur détermination dans cet idéal de vie que sous-tend la philosophie cathare.

L'absence de parfaits ne constitue pas un handicap insurmontable quand il s'agit de faire le premier pas vers le chemin. Assurément, on peut être cathare de nos jours, cette rencontre de Pentecôte l'a magnifiquement démontré. - Peut-on être cathare au XXIème siècle? Rencontre de Roquefixade 2009

Here is their website (once again it is in French) which was post in 2007.

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You're not the only one. My interest was piqued by reading Simone Weil who was an admirer of Catharism and although they are described as dualists, wikipedia writes:

The idea of two gods or deistic principles, one good and the other evil, was central to Cathar beliefs. This was antithetical to the monotheistic Catholic Church, whose fundamental principle was that there was only one God, who created all things visible and invisible. Cathars believed that the good God was the God of the New Testament, creator of the spiritual realm. Whereas the evil God was the God of the Old Testament, creator of the physical world whom many Cathars identified as Satan.

This doesn't seem particularly controversial to me; and besides, given how few of their texts have survived (given the violent suppression by the then Catholic Church), it can't be taken as read as the whole story; in fact, Simone Weil regarded the great failing of Christianity as its embrace of Rome; in her mind, the epitome of maleficent power, if not the original Babylon, it's avatar; this is one reason, by her own admission why she admired Catharism.

This is why Thibon took the trouble to defend her against this charge:

A great deal has been said about her Catharism; a letter from her, said to have been written in 1940, was brought to light in 1947. In it she spoke of her admiration for the Catharist movement and used the word adherence as opposed to curiosity ... If this letter really was written in 1940, I should say that in 1942 she had greatly changed and had no longer any traces of this attitude about her except her love of the twelfth century, where Romanesque architecture, the troubadours and the language and civilization of Provence (the Pays d’Oc) all shared her admiration of the Cathars.

She was a Marxist when Marxism was in vogue but not doctrinally so - it stemmed from her deep sense of compassion - not something that most Marxists at that time were known for according to at least one writer on her work; in fact, she often was contemptuous about small-minded Marxists who hadn't taken even the trouble to understand what a dialectic was, or even cared; nevertheless, she outgrew this phase quite early on but remained a revolutionary thinker who also happened to disagree with Trotsky...like many complex thinkers their thought defies easy categorisations.

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