Here are a few things that may surprise you about the Roman Catholic
We have no reason at all the believe that Peter was ever bishop
of Rome - in fact the earliest list of bishops of Rome omits his
name. The bishop of Rome, once there was one, was a relatively minor
figure for many centuries. Christian emperors and other bishops
felt, and were, free to decide important matters without him for
By any objective standards the Roman Catholic Church is a schismatic
faction of the Orthodox Church.
Even the Orthodox Church has questionable claims to represent the
earliest form of Christianity. It is clear that there were many
contending factions already when the books of the New Testament
were written (they are full of jibes at other factions). If you
visit the holy places in Jerusalem you will be surprised to find
the Roman Catholic Church treated like a Johnny-come-lately, almost
like the Anglican Church. All of the ancient sites belong to the
Orthodox Church, the Armenian Church, the Coptic Church, or some
other faction that long predates the Roman Church.
The Roman Catholic Church does not represent the most reliable
link to the practices of the early Church. We know as a simple matter
of fact that the Orthodox Churches have introduced for fewer innovations
than the Roman Church. There is also considerable evidence that
the Cathars represent an even older tradition. So did the Arians.
The Roman Church started executing heretics (including Priscilian,
an Arian and one of its own bishops) as early as the fourth century.
In its attempt to re-write history, we know beyond all doubt that
it has tried to destroy and suppress information it did not want
to hear, and that it has produced a very long string of deliberate
forgeries. The Donation of Constantine, the pseudo Isadoran
Forgeries and the False Decretals or just three notable
By contrast the Cathars
have a strong claim to represent the survival of an a Gnostic
strand of belief within the Early
Christian Church , and to have preserved early Christian beliefs
and practices. This has been confirmed in recent years by the discovery
of so-called Gnostic
Gospels, some of which, like the Gospel of Thomas predate the
so-called canonical gospels. They represented a Dualist
strand of belief.
The Roman Catholic Church played a key role in many of the important
events in the Languedoc, including the Crusade against
Count of Toulouse for failing to persecute the Cathars,
the burning alive of Cathar Perfects as Dualist
heretics, the foundation of the Dominican Order which in turn
created the first Papal Inquisition. It was also responsible for
sieges such as the siege of Carcassonne
and massacres such as the massacre at Montsegur.
A century later the Roman Catholic Church was responsible for the
burning of the Knights
Templar on trumped up charges of heresy, and disolution of the
More speculatively the Roman Catholic Church is supposedly involved
in the Priory
of Sion and the mystery of the Abbé
Bérenger Saunière at Rennes-le-Château,
and also features in fantasy fiction such as the The
Da Vinci Code.
If you are more interested in the Cathars of the Languedoc, you
might be more interested in Cathar Country Tours.