Third Lateran Council, 1179

Condemnation of the Cathars and other Sects

27. As St. Leo says, though the discipline of the church should be satisfied with the judgment of the priest and should not cause the shedding of blood, yet it is helped by the laws of catholic princes so that people often seek a salutary remedy when they fear that a corporal punishment will overtake them. For this reason, since in Gascony and the regions of Albi and Toulouse and in other places the loathsome heresy of those whom some call the Cathars, others the Patarenes, others thePublicani, and others by different names, has grown so strong that they no longer practise their wickedness in secret, as others do, but proclaim their error publicly and draw the simple and weak to join them, we declare that they and their defenders and those who receive them are under anathema, and we forbid under pain of anathema that anyone should keep or support them in their houses or lands or should trade with them. If anyone dies in this sin, then neither under cover of our privileges granted to anyone, nor for any other reason, is mass to be offered for them or are they to receive burial among Christians. With regard to the Brabanters, Aragonese, Navarrese, Basques, Coterelli and Triaverdini {17 }, who practise such cruelty upon Christians that they respect neither churches nor monasteries, and spare neither widows, orphans, old or young nor any age or sex, but like pagans destroy and lay everything waste, we likewise decree that those who hire, keep or support them, in the districts where they rage around, should be denounced publicly on Sundays and other solemn days in the churches, that they should be subject in every way to the same sentence and penalty as the above-mentioned heretics and that they should not be received into the communion of the church, unless they abjure their pernicious society and heresy. As long as such people persist in their wickedness, let all who are bound to them by any pact know that they are free from all obligations of loyalty, homage or any obedience. On these {18 } and on all the faithful we enjoin, for the remission of sins, that they oppose this scourge with all their might and by arms protect the christian people against them. Their goods are to be confiscated and princes free to subject them to slavery. Those who in true sorrow for their sins die in such a conflict should not doubt that they will receive forgiveness for their sins and the fruit of an eternal reward. We too trusting in the mercy of God and the authority of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, grant to faithful Christians who take up arms against them, and who on the advice of bishops or other prelates seek to drive them out, a remission for two years of penance imposed on them, or, if their service shall be longer, we entrust it to the discretion of the bishops, to whom this task has been committed, to grant greater indulgence, according to their judgment, in proportion to the degree of their toil. We command that those who refuse to obey the exhortation of the bishops in this matter should not be allowed to receive the body and blood of the Lord. Meanwhile we receive under the protection of the church, as we do those who visit the Lord's sepulchre, those who fired by their faith have taken upon themselves the task of driving out these heretics, and we decree that they should remain undisturbed from all disquiet both in their property and persons. If any of you presumes to molest them, he shall incur the sentence of excommunication from the bishop of the place, and let the sentence be observed by all until what has been taken away has been restored and suitable satisfaction has been made for the loss inflicted. Bishops and priests who do not resist such wrongs are to be punished by loss of their office until they gain the pardon of the apostolic see.