heresies for dummies

Puritanism, millenarianism, mysticism and rationalism: the four permanent sources of heresy. None of them are necessarily heretical, nor need they be radical. But at certain times and at certain places something has happened to swell these streams of thought into a flood, menacing the entire structure of Church and society. One of these floods occurred in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in Western Europe; another during the Reformation and the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By studying these periods we may come to some conclusions about the significance of heresy and its contribution to society.

—Poland’s recent history is full of examples that show just how much trouble the Poles have in distinguishing the sacrum from the profanum. Who could forget the spectacular destruction of the Nona Ora (‘the ninth hour’) sculpture by Maurizio Cattelan? The piece, exhibited at the famous Zacheta gallery in Warsaw in 2001 to mark its centenary, depicted Pope John Paul II, a cross in his hand, being crushed by a meteorite. Right-wing MP Witold Tomczak, one of the leaders of the extreme right league of Polish families (Liga Polskich Rodzin, LPR) party, decided to free the pope from the weight of the rock and demolished the work of art. ‘I destroyed it because that was what my voters expected me to do,’ he said to justify himself in the press. As a result, the director of the gallery resigned and the artist removed his work.—Read More:

The remarkable thing about the twelfth and thirteenth century outburst of heresy was its universality. In the Byzantine Empire there had been some spectacular heresies. Government had been convulsed, archbishops had hurled anathemas at each other, and armies of barbarous monks had been thrown into action to decide between the single and dual nature of Christ. But these recondite heresies, more often than not, had been slogans in the long struggle for power between the churches of Constantinople and Alexandria. The really important heresies- the permanent heresies which had their root in the Bible and in society would recur again and again- had risen sporadically: the Donatists in fourth century Africa, the Paulicians in seventh century Armenia, iconoclasm in eighth-century Constantinople.

—A quick look at History will expose Penty’s error. The Albigensians were followers of the errors of Manes who had settled in the south of France. The relaxed attitude of the Catholic population, due in large part to their co-existence with significant populations of Mohammedans and Jews, had made that area of France a popular refuge for heretics.
The Albigensians believed in two equal and creative spirits, the Spiritus Vivens, God, Who is the Author of all good, and Matter, the author of all evil. This sect taught, among other things, that all life is evil (being the work of the evil spirit) and therefore they rejected marriage as it propagated the “curse” of life, and advocated suicide since it ended the “crime” of living . This error was particularly devastating to the uneducated masses, and threatened the life not only of the Church, but of the State as well.
Before calling on secular powers to forcibly repress the Albigensians, the Church went to great lengths to convert them. This was the time of the great St. Dominic, to whom Our Lady gave the devotion of the Rosary as a most powerful aid for the conversion of obstinate heretics. And, indeed, many were converted. However, as the Albigensians were so politically entrenched and destructive a force in the south of France, Pope Innocent III (after the sacrilegious murder of his Papal Legate by a follower of Raymond VI of Toulouse) called for a Crusade against them.
Far from being a “persecution” as Penty asserts, this became a full-scale war with atrocities committed on both sides. The religious motive of the crusaders was sidelined by the political interests of their leader, Simon DeMontfort, and the Crusade became a war of conquest between the Albigensian Count Raymond VI of Toulouse and his armies and Simon DeMontfort and the Christian forces . Thus, we see that the supposed “persecution” of the Albigensians was never anything of the sort. Rather, it was a case of society defending itself against a sect that threatened its very existence. To call such lawful defense a “persecution” and attribute it to the Church is unjust as well as being a distortion of the facts of history.—Read More:

But now a whole crop of such heresies occurred at one time, and all over Christendom. In Lyons, a rich merchant, Peter Waldo, gathered a congregation of Waldenes, or Poor Men of Lyons, and preached a crusade to restore the Law of Christ. In Lombardy, a Puritan sect, the Umiliati, similarly preached and practiced the evangelical virtues; in Umbria, Francis of Assisi created the Cult of Holy Poverty; in France, Germany and Italy, Arnold of Brecia, a pupil of the learned Abelard, denounced the temporal power of the pope; and in Paris, in 1209, a prophet was burned for declaring the pope to be Antichrist.

—The USCCB Catechsim for Adults teaches heretical proposition that the Jews can get to Heaven by fulfilling the obligations of the Law of Moses
The USCCB Catechism for Adults (2006) contains the following statement on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people:
“The Catholic Church also acknowledges her special relationship to the Jewish people. The Second Vatican Council declared that ‘this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts he makes nor the calls he issues’. When God called Abraham out of Ur, he promised to make of him a ‘great nation’. This began the history of God’s revealing his divine plan of salvation to a chosen people with whom he made enduring covenants. Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them. At the same time, ‘remembering, then, her common heritage with the Jews and moved not by any political consideration, by solely by the religious motivation of Christian charity, she (the Church) deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism leveled at any time or from any source against the Jews”
This text is full of errors, the most aggregious being the quotation in italics which states that the Jewish covenant given through Moses remains “eternally valid” for the Jewish people.—Read More:

Meanwhile in southern France, the most ascetic, most highly organized of all heretics, the Albigenses, openly challenged the Church by setting up a rival organization. They had their own clergy, the perfecti, and their own laity, the credentes; they had their own theology, based on Manichaean dualism, which refused any compromise with the forces of evil, and among the forces of evil they numbered, especially, the established church of Rome.

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