Actors

Actors The early Church protested against the life of actors on the ground

(1) of general immorality, and (2) of theatricals being so closely associated with idolatry.

These were comprised in the pomp and service of the devil, which every Christian renounced at his baptism; and, therefore, when any one returned to them he was charged as a renouncer of his baptismal covenant. He was thereupon discarded as an apostate and relapser from Christian communion. We give the deliverances of some of the councils, and early fathers upon the subject. Cyprian (Epist. 61, al. 2) says that "it is neither agreeable to the majesty of God nor the discipline of the Gospel that the modesty and honor of the Church should be defiled with so base and infamous a contagion." Tertullian wrote a treatise (De Spectac. cap. 4) against these public shows, and dwells on the inconsistency of uttering from the same lips the amen of Christian worship and the praises of the gladiator or the mime. Clement of Alexandria reckons the arts of actors as among the things forbidden by divine authority. The Council of Eliberis (can. 62) allowed stage-players to be baptized only on the condition that they renounced their arts; and if after baptism, they returned to them again, they were to be cast out of the Church. The first Council of Arles (can. 5) decreed that all public actors belonging to the theatre were to be denied communion so long as they continued to act. The third Council of Carthage (3, can. 35) supposes excommunication to pass upon all such when it says that actors and stage-players, and all apostates of that kind, shall not be denied pardon and reconciliation if they return unto the Lord. With one consent the moral sense of Christians condemned what seemed so incurable an evil. See Bingham, Christian Antiquities, bk. 16 ch. 4, § 10.

 
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