How they be deceived that follow the fervour of spirit in condemning of some without discretion.
SOME men the fiend will deceive on this manner. Full wonderfully he will enflame their brains to maintain God’s law, and to destroy sin in all other men. He will never tempt them with a thing that is openly evil; he maketh them like busy prelates watching over all the degrees of Christian men’s living, as an abbot over his monks. ALL men will they reprove of their defaults, right as they had cure of their souls: and yet they think that they do not else for God, unless they tell them their defaults that they see. And they say that they be stirred thereto by the fire of charity, and of God’s love in their hearts: and truly they lie, for it is with the fire of hell, welling in their brains and in their imagination...
" ...The devil is a spirit, and of his own nature he hath no body, more than hath an angel. But yet nevertheless what time that he or an angel shall take any body by leave of God, to make any ministration to any man in this life; according as the work is that he shall minister, thereafter in likeness is the quality of his body in some part. Ensample of this we have in Holy Writ. As oft as any angel was sent in body in the Old Testament and in the New also, evermore it was shewed, either by his name or by some instrument or quality of his body, what his matter or his message was in spirit. On the same manner it fareth of the fiend. For when he appeareth in body, he figureth in some quality of his body what his servants be in spirit. Ensample of this may be seen in one instead of all these other. For as I have conceived by some disciples of necromancy, the which have it in science for to make advocation of wicked spirits, and by some unto whom the fiend hath appeared in bodily likeness; that in what bodily likeness the fiend appeareth, evermore he hath but one nostril, and that is great and wide, and he will gladly cast it up that a man may see in thereat to his brain up in his head. The which brain is nought else but the fire of hell, for the fiend may have none other brain; and if he might make a man look in thereto, he wants no better. For at that looking, he should lose his wits for ever. But a perfect prentice of necromancy knoweth this well enough, and can well ordain therefore, so that he provoke him not...,
Cloud of Unknowing - Christian Classics Ethereal Library
I record this to remind myself that wisdom is almost always encased in the garb of time and place. The 14th century had its superstitions as we have are. There are also always disagreements about how "facts" should be interpreted. This discourse on the devil almost buries the sound advice in this chapter, but not quite.
Contemplation does not make one a better judge of the sins of others, it helps one be more wary about making judgments of any kind except those concerning her or his own behavior.
"Be mercifull as your Father is merciful.
"Don't judge and you won't be judged."
-- The Original Book of Q.?
Protestantism made each Christian his own priest. I think this means that priests ought to be treated more like laymen rather than laymen like priests. Priests are not exempt from Jesus's advice. His Sermon on the Mount is probably largely authentic, his words to Peter, probably not. Morality and sin are to guide my own behavior, not to be used as a club with which to beat others.