Cathari

(Gr. katharoi, “pure ones”). An appellation assumed by third-century Novatianists,* but more usually associated with a widespread ascetic sect of medieval times. The latter probably arose in Armenia or the Balkans, possibly resulting from a fusion of Paulician and Euchite doctrines. In Bulgaria they were called Bogomiles,* in France Albigensians.* They spread to western Europe and were known in Orléans by 1017. Despite persecution they survived until the fourteenth century, when they succumbed to the Inquisition.* Their doctrines were akin to Manichaeism* and Gnosticism,* with elements such as dualism, universalism, Docetism, and metempsychosis. They were divided into two classes: credentes (“Believers”) and perfecti. The latter received the baptism of the Spirit by the imposition of hands, called consolamentum, which removed original sin and restored immortality. They rejected marriage and sexual intercourse, practicing a rigid asceticism. From them were chosen bishops and priests. The credentes only had to promise to become perfecti before death, i.e., to receive the consolamentum. The endura, or ritual suicide, was sometimes permitted or recommended when the recipient of the consolamentum was seriously ill. Infant baptism and purgatory were rejected.