Pope Benedict has embarked on a series of catechetical reflections on women in the Church during his Wednesday general audience. This week, while speaking about the great twelfth century German nun and mystic St Hildegard of Bingen, he noted that she opposed a reform movement that wanted to change the whole Church in order to address individual clerical abuses.

Benedict said:

“Hildegard especially opposed the German Cathar movement. The Cathars – their name literally means ‘pure’ – supported radical reform of the Church, principally to combat clerical abuses. She reprimanded them fiercely, accusing them of wanting to subvert the very nature of the Church and reminding them that the true renewal of the ecclesial community is not obtained by changing structures so much as by a sincere spirit of penance and a fruitful journey of conversion. This is a message we must never forget”.


Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet