I now call your attention to the belief and practice of the Romish church in the fifteenth century, and you will find that heresy and heretics were still persecuted by her. Witness the conduct of Pope Innocent VIII. toward the Vaudois. He sent one of his Jesuit legates amongst them, with instructions to prevail on Louis XII. to extirpate them from his dominions, without even hearing any deputies which they might send him. The answer of Louis did him much credit—”Though I were at war with a Turk or the devil, I would hear what he had to say for himself.” They accordingly made their defence; and, upon this, the good King Louis sent commissioners to examine the state of things among them. The following was their report, as history informs us: “Having made a strict inquiry into their mode of living, we cannot discover the least shadow of the crimes imputed to them. On the contrary, it appears that they piously observe the Sabbath, baptize their children after the manner of the primitive church, and are thoroughly instructed in the doctrine of the apostles’ creed, and in the law of God.” On hearing this report, the king exclaimed, in a passion, addressing himself to the Pope’s legate—”By the holy mother of God, these heretics, whom you and the Pope urge me to destroy, are better men than you or myself.” He, however, soon departed this life, and every man acquainted with history knows what their sufferings were from the time of his death down to the days of Cromwell, who, whatever his faults may have been, fired with indignation at the barbarities committed by the Romish church, interposed in behalf of those persecuted people, and called upon Protestant princes and sovereigns to aid him in protecting them.
~William Hogan, Popery! As it Was and as it Is, Crusade Against the Albigenses