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Medieval Sourcebook: Reinarius Saccho, Of the Sects of the Modern Heretics 1254


First They say that the Romish Church, is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but a church of malignants and that it apostatized under Sylvester, when the poison of temporalities was infused into the h. And they say, that they are the church of Christ, because they observe both in word, and deed, the doctrine of Christ, of the Gospel, and of the Apostles.
  1. Their second error is that all vices and sins are in the church, and that they alone live righteously.
  2. That scarcely anyone in the church, but themselves, preserves the evangelical doctrine.
  3. That they are the true poor in spirit, and suffer persecution for righteousness and faith.
  4. That they are the Church of Jesus Christ.
  5. That the Church of Rome is the Harlot in the Apocalypse, on account of its superfluous decoration which the Eastern Church does not regard.
  6. That they despise all the statutes of the Church, because they are heavy and numerous.
  7. That the Pope is the head of all errors.
  8. That the Prelates are Scribes; and the Monks, Pharisees.
  9. That the Pope and all Bishops, are homicides on account of wars.
  10. That we are not to obey Prelates; but only God.
  11. That no one is greater than another in the church. Matt. 23. "All of you are brethren."
  12. That no one ought to bow the knee before a priest. Rev. ii. where the Angel says tojohn "See thou do it not."
  13. That tithes are not to be given, because first fruits were not given to the church.
  14. That the clergy ought not to have possessions; Dent. xviii. "The Priests and all the tribe of Levi, shall not have part and inheritance with the people of Israel, because they eat the sacrifices, and they shall receive nothing else."
  15. That the clergy, and monks, ought not to have Prebends.
  16. That the Bishops and Abbots ought not to have royal rights.
  17. That the land, and the people, are not to be divided into parts.
  18. That it is a bad thing to found and endow churches and monasteries.
  19. That wills are not to be made in favor of Churches-also, that no one ought to be a tenant of the church-also, they condemn all the clergy for idleness, saying that they ought to work with their hands as the Apostles did-also, they reprobate titles of dignity such as Pope, Bishops, etc.-also, that no one is to be forced into belief-also, that they make no account of all ecclesiastical offices-also, that they care nothing for ecclesiastical privileges-also, they despise the immunity of the Church and of ecclesiastical persons and things-also, they condemn Councils, Synods, and Assemblies-also, they say that all parochial rights are invention-also, they say that monastic rules are the traditions of the Pharisees.

    Secondly, they condemn all the Sacraments of the Church; in the first place, as to baptism, they say that the Catechism is nothing - also, that the ablution which is given to infants profits nothing....

    Also, they condemn the sacrament of Marriage, saying that married persons sin mortally if they come together without the hope of offspring-also, they disregard compaternity-also, they despise the degrees of affinity, carnal and spiritual, and the impediments of Orders, and of public decency, and of ecclesiastical prohibitions-also, they say that a woman after child-bearing does not require benediction, or introduction-also, they say that the church has erred in prohibiting the marriage of the Clergy, while even those of the East mary - also, they say that the continent do not sin in kisses and embraces.

    The sacrament of Unction, they reprobate, because it is only given to the rich; and because several priests are required for it-also, they say that the sacrament of Orders is nothing-also, they say that every good layman is a priest, as the Apostles were laymen-also, that the prayer of an evil priest does not profit-also, they deride the clerical tonsure-also, that Latin prayer does not profit the vulgar-also, they make it a matter of ridicule that illegitimate persons and wicked sinners are raised to eminence in the church-also, they say that every layman, and even woman ought to preach, 1. Cor. xiv. "I would that ye spake in tongues, that the church might receive edification"-also, whatever is preached which cannot be proved by the text of Scripture they consider as fabulous....

    ... also, they say that the doctrine of Christ and the Apostles is sufficient for salvation without the statutes of the church-that the tradition of the church is the tradition of the Pharisees; and that there is more made of the transgression of a human tradition than of a divine law. Matt. xv. "Why do ye transgress the commands of God by reason of your traditions?" Also, they reject the mystical sense in the holy Scriptures, principally as it regards the sayings and doings delivered in the Church by tradition; as that the cock upon the steeple signifies a doctor.

    From Reinerius Saccho, "Of the Sects of Modern Heretics" (1254), in S. R. Maitland,trans.,History of the Albigenses and Waldenses (London: C. J. G. and F. Rivington, 1832), pp. 407-413.


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    (c)Paul Halsall Jan 1996
    halsall@murray.fordham.edu