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Bishop of Pàmias to ask forgiveness for Cathar Crusade

Repentance ceremony to be held October 16, Montsegur killings at heart of event

The castle of Montsegur.
The castle of Montsegur. Autor/a: Lamecast
October 16 is set to become a historic day in Occitania as bishop of Pàmias Jean-Marc Eychenne is expected to ask forgiveness for the Cathar Crusade. An act of "repentance for the Albigensian Crusade, and more specifically for the Motntsegur killings," is scheduled for that day, according to France 3's Blòg Occitan post.

According to a diocese of Pàmias, Coserans and Mirapeis statement, God's forgiveness will be asked "for the participation of some of our members and some of our institutions in acts contrary to the Gospel." In this respect, the diocese recalls that "the Lord Jesus gives us the commandment to love our neighbors and not to respond to violence with violence."

The celebration will take place in the church of Montsegur, not a mass but a liturgy with spoken interventions. A silent march towards the place where 225 Cathars were burnt on 16 March 1244 by the Inquisition will follow.

And afterwards?

The bishop of Pàmias's act of repentance cannot go beyond his diocese. However, the idea could be retaken if it finds echo in the Vatican. In his article, Benaset Roux says the current mood is certainly favourable for Pope Francis to be interested in this initiative emerged from the Country of Foix, and ask a wider forgiveness for Inquisition activities.

Idea might have arisen from Occitanist milieus

According to the France 3 journalists, the whole idea to apologize was born after several Christians talked each other about the crusade's open wounds and about the killings in God's name. Episcopal spokesman Edouard Laportalière further explained that singer Muriel Batbie Castell allowed the gathering of those people. Last spring, bishop Eychenne met Joan Francés Laffont at the Ostal d'Occitània and then asked the Dominicans, who owing to their involvement in the Cathars' are sensitive to the event. Then the date of 16 October was decided.

The 1998 attempt

It will be the first time forgiveness for that crime will be asked, but in 1998 an attempt was made via the "Reconciliation Manifesto." It was a three-page letter sent to Pope John Paul II at the initiative of mayor of Toulouse Dominique Baudis, president of Occitan Convergence Joan Francés Laffont, Abbot Jòrdi Passerat, Bertran de La Farge, Patrick Lasseube and some 20 occitanists who asked the Catholic Church to recognize its sins.

Pope John Paul II asked forgiveness in a 2000 document entitled "Memory and Reconciliation", but it was too generic and made no reference to the Cathars.

(This is an summary of an article published by Jornalet, an Occitan news site with with Nationalia has a partnership agreement. Translation into English by Nationalia.)