popularheresies - . THE PROBLEM The Church was unable to...

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. THE PROBLEM The Church was unable to solve the social and economic problems caused by the growth of commerce and manufacture. It had evolved over many centuries to meet the special conditions of a rural society and it was ill-prepared to operate effectively in the urban environment of the towns and to communicate meaningfully with the members of the new, better-educated and more critical, middle classes. In the first place, it lacked the dedicated and educated personnel to meet the challenge of ministering to the needs of the urban classes. For centuries the Church had supported an ideal of spirituality that led the best and brightest of the men and women of the Church to enter monasteries and convents and so isolate themselves from society. As the members of the middle class looked at ecclesiastical practices, they perceived a great difference between what the Church preached and what it in fact practiced. This led to a questioning of the moral and ethical standards of the Church that often developed into anti-clericalism, sometimes quite violent. But not all attacks upon the Church were the fault of the clergy. Changing economic and social conditions caused a great deal of discontent, and this content was often expressed in popular heresies such as the Albigensian and Waldensian movements. One must remember how dangerous heretics were considered to be to fully appreciate concern caused by the rise of these movements. 2. INNOCENT'S SOLUTION Innocent first tried to meet the challenge by sending missionaries to confront the leaders of the dissident movements, confound them in debate, and so win back those who had strayed from the fold. The policy collapsed when the dissidents confounded Innocent's missionaries in debate and so attracted increased numbers to their movements. Innocent lost any sense of moderation when a papal emissary to the South of France was murdered. He dealt out excommunications and interdicts liberally, and called upon the nobles of northern France to mount a crusade against the heretics of southern France. By this act, he gave papal blessings to what was essential a war of aggression in which the nobles of the
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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popularheresies - . THE PROBLEM The Church was unable to...

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