Carthage, Councils of (Concilium Carthageniense)
Carthage, Councils Of (Concilium Carthageniense)
I. Was held in 217, by Agrippinus, bishop of Carthage, and attended by all the bishops of Africa and Numidia. In this council it was declared that those who have received the form of baptism out of the Church may not be admitted into it without being rebaptized. See Labbe and Cossart, Concil. 1, 607.
II. Held by St. Cyprian, at the head of sixty-six bishops, about 253 (?). Here a letter was read from Fidus, which informed them that another bishop, named Therapis, had granted reconciliation to Victor, who had been ordained priest a long time before, without his having undergone a full and entire course of penance, and that, too, when the people had not required it, nor even known anything about it; and there was no plea of necessity, such as illness, to constrain him. The council expressed great indignation at the act and administered a strong rebuke to Therapis; nevertheless, they would not deprive of communion Victor, who had been admitted to it by his own bishop. See Labbe, Concil. 1, 741.
III. Held in 254, by St. Cyprian at the head of thirty-six bishops. It was decided that Basilides, bishop of Leon, and Martial, bishop of Asforga, could not be any longer recognised as bishops, being both of them among the "Libellatici," and also guilty of various crimes. See Labbe, Concil. 1, 746.
IV. Was also held in 254 upon the case of those who had relapsed into idolatry during the persecutions. SEE LAPSI. The circumstances of this council are detailed under NOVATUS.
First, to remove the doubts of those who had been influenced by the false statements of Novatian and his party, with respect to the conduct and consecration of Cornelius, the council resolved to obtain the testimonial of those who were present at his consecration, and to send deputies to Rome to inquire into the matter. This precautionary step did not, however, hinder St. Cyprian from recognizing at once the election of Cornelius.
When the deputies of Novatian arrived at Carthage, they required that the bishops should examine their accusations against Cornelius; to which the fathers in council answered, that they would not suffer the reputation of their brother to be attacked, after he had been elected by so many votes, and consecrated; and that a bishop having been once recognized by his fellow-bishops, it was a sin to consecrate another to the same see; and further the council addressed a synodal letter to Cornelius upon the subject.
Then they proceeded to inquire into the case of Felicissimus, and the five priests who had followed him: these men they condemned and excommunicated. And further, seeing that the two sects, viz., that of Felicis, Simus and Novatus on the one hand, and of Novatian on the other, virtually destroyed penance by the opposite extremes to which they endeavored to bring the former abolishing it, in fact, by admitting at once to communion all those who had fallen into sin, while the others altogether refused to acknowledge its efficacy — they proceeded to consider the case of the relapsed. It was decreed that the Libellatici, who, immediately after the commission of their fault, began a course of penance, should be thenceforward admitted to communion: that those who had actually sacrificed should be treated more severely, yet so as not to take from them the hope of forgiveness; that they should be for a long period kept to a course of penance, in order that they might thus seek with tears and repentance to obtain God's pardon for their sin. It was further decreed that the different circumstances of the sin of each individual ought to be inquired into, in order that the duration of their course of penitence might be regulated accordingly, that those who had for a long time resisted the violence of the torture should be treated with more lenity; and they judged that three years of penitence ought to suffice in order to render these admissible to communion.
At this council several articles or canons were drawn up, and afterwards forwarded in writing to every bishop. Baronius thinks that these were the same with those afterwards styled the "Penitential Canons." With respect to bishops and others of the clergy who had either sacrificed or had received certificates of having done so, it was determined that they might be admitted to penance; but that they should be forever excluded from the priesthood, and from all exercise of their office, or of any ecclesiastical function. It was also determined that the communion ought to be administered to persons who might be visited with mortal sickness during the course of their term of penance.
Novatus and Felicissimus were both condemned in this council, which continued sitting for a long time. See Labbe, (Concil. 1,714.
V. Held in 255. Eighteen bishops of Numidia having applied to St. Cyprian for advice upon the subject of baptism, those who had received the form out of the Church being anxious to be received regularly; he, with the assent of the council, replied that they ought, by all means, to follow the ancient practice, which was to baptize every one received into the Church, who had previously been baptized only by heretics or schismatics (Cyprian, Epist. 79). See Labbe, Concil. 1, 761.
VI. Another council was held in September in the same year (255), attended by eighty-seven bishops from the provinces of Africa, Numidia, and Mauritania. The letter of Jubayeen, who had written to consult St. Cyprian upon the subject of baptism, was read, and likewise the answer of Cyprian. Also the letter of Cyprian and the former council to Stephen was read, and the answer of the latter. It does not appear that this answer, although accompanied by threats of excommunication, had the effect of shaking the opinion of Cyprian.
After these papers had been read, Cyprian delivered a discourse, in which, forcibly, yet mildly, testifying his disapproval of the conduct of those who would, as its were, make themselves bishops over other bishops, in wishing to compel them, by a tyrannical fear, to submit absolutely to their opinion, he again protested that he left to each full liberty in his faith as to the subject before them, without judging or desiring to separate them from communion with himself on that account. The other bishops present then delivered their opinion, afterwards Cyprian himself declared his own, and all agreed unanimously.
Nevertheless, pope Stephen, filled with anger, refused even to grant an audience to the deputies of the council, and Cyprian wrote upon the subject to Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea, in Cappadocia. The latter, in his answer, declares twice, that in his opinion the pope had entirely broken peace with Africa; and that he did not fear to assert that Stephen, by the very act of separating all others from his communion, had, in fact, separated himself from all the other faithful, and therefore from the communion of the Catholic Church; and, by so doing, had really become himself schismatical. This contest lasted until the pontificate of Sixtus, who succeeded Stephen, and it seems that the bishops of Africa, little by little, yielded their opinion. St. Jerome says that many of the same bishops who had declared in council the invalidity of heretical baptism, afterwards concurred in a contrary decree. See Labbe, Concil. 1, 786.
VII. Was held in 348 or 349, after a great number of the Donatists had united themselves to the Church, under Gratus, bishop of Carthage. Bishops from all the provinces of Africa attended it, but neither their number nor the names of the greater part of them have come down to us.
Gratus having returned thanks to Almighty God for the termination of the schism which had for so many years rent the African Church, they proceeded to publish fourteen canons. The first forbids to rebaptize those who have been baptized in the name of the Sacred Trinity; the second forbids to honor those as martyrs who, by their indiscretion, have been instrumental in bringing about their own death, and treats generally of the honor due to the martyrs; the third and fourth forbid the clergy to dwell with women; it was also ruled, that three bishops are necessary in order to judge a deacon, six for the trial of a priest, and twelve for that of a bishop. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 713.
VIII. Held in 390, by Genethlius, bishop of Carthage. The number of the bishops present is unknown. They first drew up a profession of the Catholic faith, and then proceeded to publish thirteen canons.
The 1st enjoins belief in the Holy Trinity. The 2nd enjoins continence upon all the clergy. The 3rd forbids the consecration of the chrisms by priests, as also the consecration of virgins, and the reconciliation of penitents at public mass by them.
The 7th orders that those of tile clergy receiving persons who have been excommunicated by any bishop, without his permission, shall also be excommunicated.
The 12th forbids the consecration of a bishop without the consent of the metropolitan.
From the canons of this council it appears, plainly, that the bishop was the ordinary minister in cases of penance, and the priest only in his absence, or in cases of necessity. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1158.
IX. Held Aug. 28, 397, under Aurelius, the bishop, at the head of forty- four or forty-eight bishops, among whom was St. Augustine. They published fifty canons.
The 1st orders every bishop to ascertain from the primate, yearly, the day upon which the festival of Easter should be celebrated.
The 2nd enjoins that a council be held annually. The 3d directs that all the bishops and clergy shall acquire a knowledge of the canons of the Church before their consecration.
The 4th forbids the ordination of deacons or the veiling of the consecrated virgins before their twenty-fifth year.
The 6th forbids the administration of baptism or the Eucharist to the dead. The 21st forbids any bishop to ordain the clergy of another diocese. The 29th orders that mass be said fasting.
The 34th allows the baptism of sick persons unable to speak, if their desire of this be guaranteed by their friends.
The 39th forbids the consecration of a bishop by less than thee bishops.
The 46th forbids the translation of bishops.
The 47th canon forbids the reading of anything in the Church under the name of sacred Scripture, except the canonical writings, among which are included the apocryphal books of Tobit, Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, and the two books of Maccabees. St. Augustine's "whole canon of Scripture," in his treatise De Doctrina Christiana, is identical with the list contained in this forty-seventh canon of the Council of Cartihage, at which that father was present.
See Labbe, Concil. 2. 1165.
X. Held Nov. 8, 398, under Aurelius of Carthage, at the head of two hundred and fourteen or two hundred and fifteen bishops, including St. Augustine. One hundred and four canons were published, chiefly relating to the life and conduct of the clergy.
The 1st enjoins that no one be elevated to the episcopate without accurate inquiry first made as to his faith and moral character, in order to ascertain whether he hold the Catholic faith, and have all the virtues necessary for the office; whether he be prudent; docile, moderate, chaste, sober, charitable, humble, well instructed in the word of God, etc.
The eight canons following are upon the ordination of bishops, priests, deacons and sub-deacons, acolytes, exorcists, etc.
The 15th directs that bishops shall have nothing but what is plain and simple, either at table or in their furniture, and recommends that they should distinguish themselves only by the luster of their faith and virtue.
The 16th prohibits bishops from reading the works of heathens, but allows those of heretics to be read in case of necessity.
The 22nd forbids that a bishop should ordain any one without the consent of his clergy, and the testimony of the laity.
The 24th orders that all persons leaving the church during the time of sermon be excommunicated.
The 34th forbids a bishop, while seated, to keep a priest standing.
The 38th permits a deacon, in cases of great necessity, to administer the Eucharist in the presence of a priest.
The 51st and two following canons order the clergy to get their living by some honest trade.
The 61st orders that a clergyman swearing by any creature be severely rebuked, and if he continues in fault lie is to be excommunicated. The 64th declares those persons not to be Catholics who fast upon Sunday. The 66th enjoins that the clergy who consider themselves harshly treated by their bishop, may appeal to a synod.
The 70th forbids all the clergy to keep company with heretics and schismatics.
The 83d directs that greater respect be paid to old people, and to the poor, than to others.
The 84th allows every person whatever, whether heretic, Jew, or pagan, to remain in church until the mass of the catechunmens.
The 93d and 94th order that the offerings of those who are at variance, or those who oppress the poor, be rejected.
The 99th forbids a woman, however well instructed and holy, to presume to teach in an assembly of men.
See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1196.
XI. Held about the year 401, in June, by Aurelius, at the head of sixty-two bishops. It was agreed that deputies should be sent to Rome and to Milan, to submit for approval a scheme for putting-into the order of clergy the children of Donatists who had been converted. The great scarcity of clergy in Africa arose chiefly from the oppression of the Donatists, and the extreme caution of the bishops in making choice of fit persons. Fifteen canons were drawn up, one of which directs that the bishop shall live at his cathedral church. The decree concerning the continence of the clergy was confirmed. See Labbe. Concil. 2, 1241.
XII. This council was held Sept. 13, 401, to consult upon the best method of acting towards the Donatists. It was resolved (1) to treat them with lenity, and (2) that those of the Donatist clergy who desired to resume their ministerial functions in the Church should be received. Afterwards the council drew up certain rules of discipline. Some suppose that these canons were drawn up at another council in the same year.
1. The cannon made in the Council of Carthage, A.D. 390, which forbids, the marriage of bishops, priests, and deacons, was confirmed, and its observance enforced under pain of deposition. In the case of other ecclesiastics, it was ruled that each Church should follow its own customs in the matter.
2. It was forbidden to any bishop to change the place of his see, or to absent himself from it for long together.
3. It was ordered, that whenever it became necessary to convoke a general council, all the bishops of each province should assemble previously, in two or three classes, from each of which deputies should be chosen, who should be obliged to proceed forthwith to the council, or to communicate the cause of their absence.
4. That such of the clergy as should be refused communion, and deposed, on account of any crime committed, should be allowed the space of one year wherein to justify themselves; which not being done within the year, they should never be received again.
5. That if any bishop should make any strangers, not his relatives, or even his relatives, if they were heretics or heathens, his heirs, in preference to the Church, he should be anathematized after his death. This is to be understood of that property only which the eighth canon of the Council of Hippo permitted him to dispose of by will — viz., his patrimony, and property which had been given to him.
6. In order to prevent superstition, it was resolved to allow of no altar or chapel in honor of a martyr, except his body was actually there buried, or except he had lived or had suffered there; and that all altars should be destroyed which had been erected upon the strength of pretended revelations.
It is not known what bishops were present in this council, but there is good reason to believe that the number was large, and that Alypius, St. Augustine, and Euodius were of the number. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1242.
XIII. This council was-held Aug. 25, 403; at which Alypius, St. Augustine, and Possidius were present. The Donatists were invited to a conference, but they rejected the offer with contempt, upon the pretence that they could not confer with sinners. As a consequence the fathers in council were obliged, through their legates, the bishops Euodius and Theasius, to require from the emperor Honorius that laws should be enacted against the Donatists. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1331.
XIV. Was held Aug. 23, 405. It was resolved that letters should be written to the governors of the provinces, begging them to labor to effect union throughout Africa. A letter to the emperor was also agreed upon, thanking him for the expulsion of the Donatists. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1331.
XV. At this council, held in 407, deputies were present from every province in Africa. By common consent it was agreed to annul the canon of Hippo, which decreed that a general African council should be held annually, on account of the difficulty of getting to the council. It was further ruled, that when any circumstance arose affecting the whole Church of Africa, the matter should be communicated in writing to the bishop of Carthage, who should thereupon convoke a council, in which it might be determined what should be done; that other matters should be considered and determined in their own province; that in case of an appeal, each party should name their own judges, from whose decision there should be no further appeal. In order to prevent the bishops from going to the emperor's court more than was absolutely necessary, the council ordered that the cause should be specified in the letter to the Roman Church, given to every bishop journeying to Rome, and that, when at Rome, a letter for the court should be given to him; that if any bishop, having received a commendatory letter for his voyage to Rome, without saying that he intended to go to the court, should nevertheless go thither, he should be separated from communion. It was also ruled, that no new see should be erected without the consent of the bishop out of whose diocese it was to be formed, and that of the primate and whole council of the province. Rules were also laid down concerning the converted Donatists; the council further deputed the bishops Vincentius and Fortunatianus to attend the emperor in the name of the whole African Church, and to defend the cause of the Church in the conference with the Donatists, and also to demand of the emperor five advocates to defend the interests of the Church. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1333.
XVI. Held June 1, 411, with a view to uniting the Donatists to the Catholic Church, and convincing them of the necessity of seeking for salvation therein.
These heretics appear to have increased to such a degree in Africa, that they were in a fair way to overwhelm the Catholics altogether, and from the time of their obtaining full liberty they were guilty of acts of violence equal to those of the greatest persecutors.
The Catholic bishops having at last persuaded the emperor Honorius to allow a public conference with the Donatists, Marcellinus was sent over to Africa by order of that prince, who appointed June 1 for the day of meeting. He also ordered that seven bishops only, on each side, should take part in the conference, to be chosen by the whole number, but that each party might have seven other bishops, with whom the disputants might take counsel, if they needed it; that no other bishop should be permitted to take part in the conference than the fourteen disputants; and, lastly, that each party should bind itself to stand by the acts of those whom they had named to represent them, and that notes of what passed should be taken by public notaries.
The Donatists, however, refused these terms, and desired that all their bishops should be present. The Catholics, on their part, wrote to Marcellinus, accepting his offers. In this letter they declare their object to be to show that the holy Church throughout all the world cannot perish, however great may be the sins of those who are members of it; and, furthers they declare their willingness, if the Donatists can show that the Catholic Church is reduced to their communion, to submit themselves entirely to them, to vacate their sees and all their rights; but if the Catholics, on the other hand, can show that the only true Church is in their communion, and that the Donatists are in error, that they will, nevertheless, preserve to them the episcopal honor; that in cities where there are both a Catholic and a Donatist bishop, both shall sit alternately in the episcopal chair, and that when one of the two shall die, the survivor shall remain sole bishop. Then they named, as their representative bishops in the conference, Aurelius of Carthage, Alipius of Tagaste, Augustine, Vincentius of Capua, Fortunatus of Cirtha, Fortunatianus of Sicca,. and Possidius of Calama. Seven others were also named for consultation, and four more as sureties that the result of the conference should be observed faithfully. The Donatists also (being compelled) named their representatives in the same order.
In the second sittings after a long discussion, a delay was granted to the Donatists.
In the third sitting the Donatists did everything in their power to prevent the question of the origin of the schism being inquired into; but Marcellinus caused the statement of Anulinus the proconsul to be read, in which he set forth the complaints of, the Donatists against Csecilianus. The Donatists, being thus hard pushed, presented a memorial, in which they endeavored to show, from holy Scripture, that bad pastors are spots and defilements in the Church, and that she cannot have among her children any that are openly wicked. After this document had been read, the Catholics answered it through Augustine. He strongly established this verity, that the Church in this world must endure evil members, both open and concealed, and that the good, although they are mingled with the evil, do not participate in their sin. From Cyprian he showed that it was in the Church that the devil sowed the tares (which was contested by the Donatists), the object of the Catholics being to prove that neither the faults of Csecilianus nor of any one else could in any way affect their communion. Augustine then proceeded to say that holy Scripture may not be so interpreted as to contradict itself, and that those passages which each party brought forward in support of their own views must in some way be reconciled. He showed that the Church is to be regarded in two lights first, as she is, militant in this world, having within her both good and bad men; and, secondly, as she will be, triumphant in heaven, when all evil shall be purged out of her; he also explained how the faithful are bound in this life to separate from the evil, viz. by withdrawing from all participation in their evil deeds, not by separating from them outwardly.
When the Donatists found themselves too closely pressed by the reasoning of Augustine, they declared plainly that they did not conceive themselves to be permitted to join in ally act of devotion with those who were not perfectly just, and true saints, for which reason they regarded the holy sacraments as utterly null and void, except they were administered by persons whom they conceived to be of irreproachable life, and for the same cause they insisted upon rebaptizing Catholics. Augustine, in reply, showed plainly that such a notion went at once to overthrow all external religion whatever since difficulties without end must arise upon the question of the personal holiness of ministers.
They now proceeded to inquire into the original cause of the rupture between the Donatists and Catholics. The former maintained that they were justified in separating from Ceecilianus, who had been consecrated by men who were themselves "Traditores." However, the proofs which they alleged were without weight, and Augustine, in few words, again refuted their error, and further unraveled all their tricks and shifts. He bade them bear in mind that Mensurius, the predecessor of Caecilianus, although charged with the same crime of having given up the sacred volumes, was yet never publicly condemned; that the Council of Carthage against Caecilianus condemned him in his absence, and that this was done by bishops who in the Council of Cirtha had been pardoned for the very same crime; in proof of which he caused the acts of the Council of Cirtha, A.D. 305, to be read.
After various shifts on the part of the Donatists in the matter of this last- mentioned council, the acts of the Council of Rome, in 313, absolving Caecilianus, were read, and also the letter of Constantine to Eulimalus, upon the subject of the contradictory judgment which that prince had given in the matter of Caecilianus. It seemed, indeed, as M. Tillemont observes, as if the Almighty constrained the Donatists to speak in spite of themselves, since the very document which they produced served only to bring. out more clearly the innocence of Caecilianus; for, first, wishing to show that Constantine, after having absolved Caecilianus, had condemned him again by a later judgment, they were blind enough to produce a petition which they had formerly addressed to the prince, in which it appeared that he had himself condemned them, and maintained the innocence of Caecilianus; secondly, they produced a letter of Constantine, in which he acknowledges that the cause of Felix of Aptonga had not been examined and judged impartially, and in which he ordered that Inquitius, who confessed that he had told a lie, should be sent to him, ill order to bring about the condemnation of Felix.
Now, nothing could better serve the cause of the Catholics and more confound the Donatists than to show that this very Felix was in truth innocent of the charge upon which he had been condemned; for, simply considered, their charge against Caecilianus was, that he had been consecrated by a man who had delivered up the Holy Scriptures. But, to complete the proof of the innocence of Felix, the Catholics produced the statement of the proconsul Caecilianus, who had acted as judge in the affair, and the very acts of the judgment, to none of which had the Donatists anything to object; and finally, the Catholics having entirely established everything that they had asserted, Marcellinus gave sentence, two hundred and eighty-one articles of which still remain to us; it was to the effect that the Donatists had been entirely refuted by the Catholics; that Caecilianus had been justified, and that, even had the crimes with which he had been accused been proved against him, it would in no way have affected the Catholic Church; and that, accordingly, those of the Donatists who should refuse to unite themselves to the Church should be punished as the laws directed.
From this sentence the Donatists appealed to the emperors but in vain. Honorius confirmed the acts of the conference of Carthage by a law, bearing date Aug. 30, 414.
This conference may be said to have given the deathblow to Donatism. From this time the sectarians came in crowds to unite themselves to the true Church, and the heresy declined. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1335.
XVII. Held in 412, against, Coelestius, the disciple of Pelagius . See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1510.
XVIII. Held in 416, against Pelagius and Coelestius. It was composed of sixty-seven bishops, whose names are preserved; Aurelius of Carthage presiding. The letters of Heros and Lazarus were read, in which they accused Pelagius and Coelestius of errors worthy to be visited with the censures of the Church. Then the acts of the Council of 412, against Coelestius, were read. It was finally resolved that both he and Pelagius should be anathematized, unless they would unequivocally abjure their wicked doctrine. A synodical letter was also addressed to pope Innocent, to inform him of the affair, in order that he might add the weight of his authority to their decree. In this letter the principal errors of Pelagius are specified and refuted summarily from Holy Scripture; to it were added the letters of Heros and Lazarus, and the acts of the Council of 412, in which Coelestius was condemned. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1533.
XIX. Held by Aurelius in 418; composed of two hundred and seventeen or two hundred and fourteen bishops. Here eight doctrinal articles, drawn up by Augustine, were agreed to against the Pelagians. These articles or canons have come down to our time, and are dated May 1, 418. The last three definitively declare that no man can be said to be without sin, and anathematize those who should deny it. Besides these canons, the oldest Roman code adds another, by which the council condemns with anathema those who hold that infants dying without baptism enjoy a happy existence, although not in the kingdom of heaven. Photius, who, as Tillemont observes, we must believe to have had the use of good MSS., recognizes this canon; and, as a further proof of its genuineness, Augustine, in his letter to Boniface, says, that both councils and popes had condemned the heresy of the Pelagians, who maintained that infants not baptized enjoy a place of salvation and repose out of heaven.
In this same council ten other canons were agreed to against the Donatists. It was determined, that in places containing both Catholics and Donatists, each party recognizing a different diocesan, the Donatists, at whatever period they might have been converted, should belong to the bishopric which the original Catholics of the place recognized. That if a Donatist bishop should be converted, those parishes where the Donatists had been under his jurisdiction, and the Catholics under the bishop of some other city, should be equally divided between the two bishops, the oldest to make the division, and the other to have the choice. The same council determined, by another remarkable canon, that if the priests and other inferior clergy had any complaint to make against the judgment of their bishop, their case might be judged by the neighboring bishops, from whose decision they might appeal either to the primate or to the Council of Africa; but if they pretended to appeal to any authority beyond the sea, all persons in Africa were forbidden to communicate with them. It also gave permission to a virgin to take the veil and the vows before the age of twenty-five, in cases where her chastity was endangered by the power of those who sought her in marriage, provided also that those upon whom she was dependent made the demand as well as herself.
Since the bishops at this council waited to see what steps the new pope Zosimus would take in the matter of the Pelagians, the chief of them continued at Carthage, and thus formed there for some time a sort of general council. In the end, Zosimus, perceiving that he had permitted himself to be taken in by the Pelagians, gave his sentence, confirming the decrees of the African council; and, in accordance with the judgment of pope Innocent, his predecessor, he condemned afresh Pelagius and Coelestius, reduced them to the rank of penitents, upon condition that they abjured their errors, and, in case of refusal, sentenced them to be entirely cut off from the communion of the Church. He also wrote a very long epistle to all the churches of the world, which all the Catholic bishops subscribed. The emperor Honorius issued a decree against the Pelagians, and added the weight of his authority to the decision of the Church.
At the head of these decrees, the bishops wrote to Zosimus, the pope, declaring that they were resolved that the sentence passed by his predecessor Innocent against Pelagius and Coelestius should remain in force against them, until both of them should clearly recognize the necessity of divine grace, agreeably to the decrees of the council; and that so they need never hope to return into the bosom of the Church without abjuring their errors. They also reminded the pope of the mean opinion which Innocent had of the Council of Diospolis, and represented to him that he ought not to have given ear so readily to the representations of a heretic. Lastly, they laid before him all that had passed in Africa upon the subject. This letter was carried to Rome by Marcellinus, subdeacon of Carthage. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1576.
XX. Held May 15, 419, in the Basilica of Faustus, was convoked by Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, assisted by the primate of Numidia, and Faustinus, legate of the pope. Deputies from the different provinces of Africa, and the: bishops of the proconsular province were present, making in all two hundred and seventeen bishops; Aurelius presiding, and Augustine being present.
At the first sitting the pope's instructions to his legates were read, and also the canon, which he brought forward in order to show that all bishops have a right of appeal to the pope. First, it was agreed that the pope should be written to, in order to secure an authentic copy of the canons. Secondly, all that related to the case of appeals was read, and Augustine promised that it should be observed until they had received more authentic, copies of the Council of Nicaea. Thirdly, the Nicene creed was read, together with twenty ordinary canons, and the several regulations made by the African councils held under Aurelius. Fourthly, the affair of Apiarius (q.v.) was discussed, and the right of appeal to Rome denied. The bishops further desired that the clergy should make complaint of judgments passed upon them to the primate or council of the province, and not to the bishops of the neighboring provinces. Finally, Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, and Atticus, of Constantinople, delivered to the priests deputed by the council faithful copies of the acts of the Council of Nicaea.
In the second sitting six canons were drawn up, relating to the charges that might be alleged against clerks. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1589.
XXI. It is doubtful whether this council, held in 424, was not merely a continuation of the preceding. It was called to attend to the business of Apiarius, mentioned in the account of the preceding council. After having been re-established by the foregoing council, he was again guilty of great enormities, and, accordingly, a second time excommunicated, and driven out of Trabuca, a city in the proconsulate of Africa, whence he fled to Rome. The pope Coelestine, giving credit to everything that he was pleased to pretend in the way of justification, readmitted him to communion, and added further a letter to the bishops of Africa. This conduct on the part of the pope caused the whole of the African bishops to assemble at Carthage, and to hold there a general council. Out of the whole number present we have the names of only fifteen. Apiarius appeared with Faustinus, who acted rather as his advocate than his judge. He wished them to promise to receive Apiarius into communion with them; but the fathers in council judged that they ought first to examine into his criminal conduct. Apiarius eventually confessed the crimes of which he had been guilty, and was excommunicated. The council ordered a letter sent to pope Coelestine, in which they complained of his conduct in absolving Apiarius; begged of him in future not to listen so easily to those who came to him from Africa, nor receive into communion those whom they had excommunicated; and lastly, requested the pope to send no more legates to execute his judgments, lest the pride of the world be introduced into the Church of Christ. See Labbe, Concil. 2, 1638.
XXII. Held in 525, under pope Boniface, in order to restore the discipline of the Church. On this occasion an abridgment of the canons made under Aurelius was read. The last three forbid all appeals beyond the sea, absolutely, without making any distinction between bishops and others. See Labbe, Concil. 4, 1628.
XXIII. Held in 535; composed of two hundred and seventeen bishops; convoked to Carthage by Ileparatus, bishop of that city. A demand was made upon the emperor Justinian to restore the rights and property of the Church, which had been usurped by the Vandals, which request was granted, by a law bearing date Aug. 1 in the same year. See Labbe, Concil. 4:1784.
XXIV. In the year 645 a conference was held between Pyrrhus, bishop of Constantinople, the chief of the Monothelites, and the abbot, Maximus in the presence of the patrician Gregory and several bishops. Maximus there showed that there were two wills (duse voluntates) and two operations in Jesus Christ. Pyrrhus yielded to his proofs, and went afterwards to Rome, where he retracted what he had formerly taught, and was received into communion; subsequently, however, he returned to his errors.
XXV. Held in the year 646. Several councils were held in Africa during this year, against the Monothelites; one in Numidia, another in Byzacena, a third in Mauritania, and a fourth at Carthage (sixty-eight bishops present), in the proconsular province. See Labbe and Cossart, Concilia Sacrosancta (Paris, 1671).