The New International Encyclopædia/Cathari

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CATH'ARI, or Catharists (Med. Lat., from Gk. καθαρὀς, katharos, pure). A name very generally given to various sects which appeared in the Church during the Middle Ages. It appears to have been sometimes assumed in profession of a purity of doctrine and morals superior to that which generally prevailed in the Church, sometimes bestowed ironically in ridicule of such a profession, and was used as a designation of the Paulicians (q.v.) of the Seventh and succeeding centuries, of sects which appeared in Lombardy in the beginning of the Eleventh Century, and afterwards in France and the west of Germany, and of the Bogomiles of the Twelfth Century. In the Eleventh Century the Patarenes appeared in Milan, and were called Cathari. The names Albigenses and Cathari are often used as equivalent to one another; in fact it is almost impossible to differentiate the various bodies known as Petrobrusians and Arnoldists (from their leaders), or Passagers and Publicans (from different features of their morals and customs), Manicheism. Gnosticism, and Montanism are ascribed to the Cathari; but as their doctrines were a confused agglomeration of different heresies, and consequently the descriptions of contemporary writers are not always concordant, it is difficult to make out their system in detail. It appears quite certain that the Cathari differed among themselves in their doctrines, and in the degree of their opposition to the dominant Church. Some of them advocated and practiced a rigid asceticism. There is no good evidence that any of them nearly approached to the doctrines of the Reformation, although in their rejection of tradition, of the authority of Rome, of the worship of saints and images, etc., there are notable points of agreement with the views of the reformers. Consult C. Schmidt, La secte des Cathares (Strassburg. 1849): J. J. Döllinger, Sektengeschichte, Vol. II. (Munich, 1890); also H. C. Lea, History of the Inquisition (3 vols., New York, 1888).