as the Perfected Ones or Parfaits taught the Cathar Beliefs. Usually they were married and with adult sons and daughters and so usually they would not become Parfaits until they had entered their forties.
A Cathar Bishop would preside over a ceremony during which they would take a vow of chastity, and they would receive "The Consolamentum”. This involved a vow of chastity because the Cathars believed procreation of the flesh was not a service to the principle of love, but to Rex Mundi who they regarded as the evil ruler of the physical world. Apart from Parfaits, believers only took the vow when on their deathbed. Although Catharism condemned procreation they were not so naive as to attempt to abolish sexuality. As far as the ordinary believers were concerned sexuality was tolerated. This suggests that the Cathars practised both Birth Control and abortion.
When Rome subsequently charged the heretics with unnatural sexual practices this was later taken to mean Sodomy, but the Cathars were extremely strict in their prohibition of Sodomy. Also we know Rome's position on Birth control and abortion today and can imagine the vindictive zeal and energy with which that same position would have been enforced during the Dark Ages.
The Cathars lived lives of devotion and simplicity. They did not use churches, preferring to conduct their ceremonies and rituals outside, or in houses or any convenient building. Generally they were vegetarian, abhorring taking life for food, but permitted fish as part of their diet. The Parfaits, dressed in simple dark blue, green, or brown robes, travelled the countryside in pairs, teaching the Cathar beliefs and the method of Meditation that for the individual seeker, converted belief into the "Knowing". Many Cathar noblemen were drawn to the belief and became Parfaits; who later provided refuges and resources to many Cathars resisting and fleeing the persecution of the Inquisition-led Crusade.
Half a century before the crusade, Saint Bernard travelled to the Languedoc to preach against the heretics. But when he arrived he was less appalled by the heretics than by the corruption of his own church that had priests who ignored their congregations. The priests had concentrated their efforts on becoming rich land-owners whilst their churches had stood empty for thirty years. Bernard was clearly impressed by the Cathar "Heretics" and he declared, " No sermons are more Christian than theirs, and their morals are pure".
By twelve hundred AD Rome was looking for a legitimate reason to clamp down on the heretics. It was becoming increasingly apparent that Cathar Belief would soon replace Roman Catholic Faith in the entire south of France. Catharism was quickly spreading to more and more areas as individuals were drawn by its tolerance, freedom of thought, and also its lack of ritual, dogma and tithes paid to Rome.
In January 1200 AD anticlerical rebels murdered Pierre de Castelnau, one of the Papal Legates to the Languedoc. Though the murderers had no Cathar affiliations whatever, Rome did not hesitate to use this as the excuse she needed. At once Pope Innocent 11 ordered a crusade. Always there had been persecution of heretics throughout the previous centuries, but this time Rome was in earnest. Determined to destroy the heresy once and for all. A massive army was mustered under the command of the Abbot of Citeaux, and the military operation commanded by Simon
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