In Medieval times, the south of France was its own little world – with strong local alliances, its own language and an independent spirit. Too independent, it seemed for the Roman Catholic Church and their claim to unique religious truth.
They largely welcomed Jews and Saracens, and those whose christian faith diverged from that of Rome. The latter were regarded as heretics, and for the first time a Crusade against christians was waged on European soil. For 50 years they were hunted down, many were burned at the stake. It was the beginning of what would become the Great Inquisition when all opposition and independent thinking was quashed .
This Rome sponsored Crusade seems no different from the current Islamic practice of Jihad – they look pretty similar to me – opposition to all that is different and challenges mainstream thinking. Opposition that is strong enough to want to kill and destroy the other.
Perhaps it is simply the age old battle fought out on a different front – between light and darkness, between love and fear, between openness and control.
To me it seems no different from the present battles being waged in the Anglican Church over the inclusion (or not) of gay people. This is something I have been in correspondence with Anglican bishops and others over recent months as they have met in Lambeth, England to pontificate on such issues.
It is a simple choice to me – there is only Love or Fear. We either accept, love and welcome or we must crush, control and expel. Sometimes we move from one to the other, but the journey of life for me is to live more and more with love and openness.
Unfortunately the bishops seem to have offered gay people up on the altar of unity at all costs, and we are to be left out in the cold, unless we (like the witches in the past) recant or at the very least keep silent.
A sad indictment on the Church, and the inability to learn from the past. At least here in the South of France the independent Cathar spirit is being reclaimed as the old language is being used and taught again, and regional pride and independent spirit is being restored.