St. Augustine, Pelagianism, and the Holy See

"Rome has spoken; the case is closed" (Sermon 131:10)


James White, the Reformed Baptist apologist and anti-Catholic critic, wrote an article for his web site (apparently in response at least partly to this one) attacking the credibility of Catholic apologists such as Karl Keating and Steve Ray for their use of the common saying from St. Augustine: "Rome has spoken; the case is closed." While no one needs my defense (their books, research, scholarship, and integrity speak for themselves), I thought I would make some comment on White's article. First, that this is an accurate summary (though not a direct quotation) of St. Augustine's words is admitted in the notes of the Protestant edition of the Church Fathers (edited by Philip Schaff, among others):

"Hence the famous word: 'Roma locuta est, causa finita est,' which is often quoted as an argument for the modern Vatican dogma of papal infallibility. But it is not found in this form, though we may admit that it is an epigrammatic condensation of sentences of Augustin. The nearest approach to it is in his Sermon CXXXI [131]...." (NPNF Series 1, Volume 1, page 21, footnote 64)

White also states in his article -- found here: Catholic Legends

"We have often seen amateur Catholic apologists confidently asserting that Cyprian believed in the infallibility of the bishop of Rome, or that Augustine took the word of Rome as the final authority. Surely that is Keating's intention, given the context, in citing both patristic sources. But, as all students of church history know (and as Roman Catholic historians have admitted for a very long time), neither early father would have agreed with the use of their words by Keating. In fact, Keating could never defend the veracity of his research against a meaningful criticism. Let's look briefly at Cyprian and Augustine and see how this Catholic legend is just that: legendary."

White then quotes a couple Protestant historians/scholars (such as Schaff) and modern Catholic scholars (such as Robert Eno or Quasten) in support of his thesis that St. Cyprian and St. Augustine had no concept of a Papacy in the early Church. I believe Dom John Chapman destroys White's thesis which is perhaps why there is no link to this article from his site. I would challenge White to link to this article if he really desires his interested readers to hear the full story.

See also:

St. Cyprian on the Church and the Papacy by Dom John Chapman

St. Athanasius, Arianism, and the Holy See by Dom John Chapman

St. John Chrysostom on the Apostle Peter by Dom John Chapman

St. Jerome and Rome by Dom John Chapman

Dave Hunt, the anti-Catholic Fundamentalist Dispensationalist who no one would mistake for a Church historian, in his usual acerbic tone, makes a bold claim in A Woman Rides the Beast (Harvest House, 1994) concerning St. Augustine and the Papacy:

"In order to promote the necessary blind faith in the pope's infallibility and in the dogma that salvation is obtainable only in the Roman Catholic Church, its hierarchy has hidden the facts and rewritten history. One example is the quote by Augustine on the facing page ["Rome has spoken; the dispute is at an end" -- summary of Sermon 131:10]. If, as the argument goes, Augustine, the greatest theologian of the Church, was willing to submit to whatever Rome (i.e., the pope and hierarchy) decreed, then surely ordinary Catholics ought to do the same. Such submission, however, is not what Augustine proposed. In context, the quote means something else. Two synods had ruled on a disputed matter and the Bishop of Rome had concurred, which 'appeared to him [Augustine] more than enough, and so the matter might be regarded as at an end. That a Roman judgment in itself was not conclusive, but that a 'Concilium plenarium' was necessary for that purpose, he had himself maintained....' (quoting Dollinger/Janus). Nowhere else in his voluminous writings did Augustine even come close to suggesting that the Bishop of Rome had the final say on issues of faith or morals....Never once, in all the arguments he proposed on many issues, did Augustine suggest that the Bishop of Rome should be consulted as the final arbiter of orthodoxy, or even that he should be consulted at all." (Hunt, page 503-504, emphasis added)

William Webster, a former Catholic turned Evangelical, in The Church of Rome at the Bar of History (Banner of Truth, 1995), a book also critical of the Catholic Church that attempts to undermine Catholic dogma by appealing to the Church Fathers, responds to Catholic apologist Karl Keating's use of St. Augustine's famous saying "Rome has spoken; the case is closed" (which is a summary of Augustine's Sermon 131:10) as follows:

"Karl Keating refers to Augustine, who he claims affirmed his belief in papal infallibility during the Pelagian controversy. He gives a quote from one of Augustine's sermons in which he refers to Pope Innocent's judgment on Pelagius. He quotes him as saying, 'Rome has spoken; the case is closed.' But such an assertion is a total distortion of Augustine's true position. It is to give a quote out of the context of the historical situation and the rest of his writings to arrive at a false perspective of what he really means. Augustine never endorsed such a teaching [Webster then refers to Pope Zosimus -- which shall be dealt with later -- and cites from the same anti-Catholic tome by Dollinger/Janus above]." (Webster, page 221, note 12, emphasis added)

J.N.D. Kelly, one of the greatest patristic scholars of the 20th century, and an Anglican, writes to the contrary in his classic work Early Christian Doctrines (HarperSanFrancisco, 1978) :

"According to him [St. Augustine], the Church is the realm of Christ, His mystical body and His bride, the mother of Christians [Ep 34:3; Serm 22:9]. There is no salvation apart from it; schismatics can have the faith and sacraments....but cannot put them to a profitable use since the Holy Spirit is only bestowed in the Church [De bapt 4:24; 7:87; Serm ad Caes 6]....It goes without saying that Augustine identifies the Church with the universal Catholic Church of his day, with its hierarchy and sacraments, and with its centre at Rome....By the middle of the fifth century the Roman church had established, de jure as well as de facto, a position of primacy in the West, and the papal claims to supremacy over all bishops of Christendom had been formulated in precise terms....The student tracing the history of the times, particularly of the Arian, Donatist, Pelagian and Christological controversies, cannot fail to be impressed by the skill and persistence with which the Holy See [of Rome] was continually advancing and consolidating its claims. Since its occupant was accepted as the successor of St. Peter, and prince of the apostles, it was easy to draw the inference that the unique authority which Rome in fact enjoyed, and which the popes saw concentrated in their persons and their office, was no more than the fulfilment of the divine plan." (Kelly, page 412, 413, 417)

In further support of the above statement from J.N.D. Kelly, the following shall be sufficient proof that St. Augustine, and the Catholic Church of his day (late 4th/early 5th century), believed that

(1) the Bishop of Rome, as successor of St. Peter, held the primacy of jurisdiction in the Church;

(2) the Pope in this position had the final say on matters of doctrine (we shall discuss the history of the Pelagian heresy) and was indeed the final arbiter of truth and thus infallible;

(3) St. Augustine's "Rome has spoken; the case is closed" is indeed an accurate summary of his belief on the matter (from his Sermons 131:10);

(4) Further, we shall discuss the role of the African bishops, and Popes Innocent I and Zosimus (the latter is used as an instance of "papal fallibility") during the Pelagian controversy.


The following is adapted from Studies on the Early Papacy (Kennikat Press, 1971, orig 1928), a collection of articles by Dom John Chapman, the great patristic scholar of the late 19th/early 20th century at Downside Abbey in England, from chapter 6 "The Condemnation of Pelagianism" (originally published by the Dublin Review in 1897). These articles were composed in response to the leading Anglican scholars and anti-Catholic critics of Chapman's day, and are tough reading for those who are unfamiliar with Church history. For a general overview of the history and doctrine of the early Church Fathers, I would recommend the previously mentioned Anglican work by J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (1978), or the three-volume work by Catholic patristics scholar William Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers (1979). On the heretic Pelagius and the heresy of Pelagianism itself, one good source is Pelagius: A Historical and Theological Study by John Ferguson (Cambridge, 1956) or the respective articles in the old (1913) and New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967).

Now for John Chapman's Studies on the Early Papacy. It shows how wrong anti-Catholic folks such as Dave Hunt and William Webster are. This document from Chapman shall be divided into two main parts: part I is Pope Innocent and the Condemnation of Pelagianism and part II is Pope Zosimus and Pelagianism

See also St. Cyprian on the Church and the Papacy

also St. Athanasius, Arianism, and the Holy See


Pope Innocent and the Condemnation of Pelagianism

The anti-papalism of the African Church has been a fruitful theme for Protestant controversialists. St. Cyprian has been, since the days of Dodwell, their pet instance of resistance to Roman claims. Apiarius they are never tired of. St. Augustine is quoted as a Protestant in the Thirty-nine Articles. "The advocates of Papal Infallibility are obliged to give up St. Augustine," said the reckless Janus. [1] "England," wrote Dr. Pusey, [2] "is not at this moment more independent of any authority of the bishop of Rome than Africa was in the days of St. Augustine." Fr. Puller has followed of late years by warning "honourable men" to "refrain from pretending that the Church of North Africa, in the time of St. Augustine, believed in the principles laid down by the Vatican Council" : it would be "an impertinence and an act of folly." Fr. Rivington ventured to commit this impertinence in spite of so solemn a warning; and Dr. Bright retaliated in the Church Quarterly Review, and later republished his apparently hasty articles in The Roman See in the Early Church.

A Relation of the Facts and History of Pelagianism

The best answer to such wild statements is a mere relation of facts. I propose to give the history of the condemnation of Pelagianism, so far as possible in the words of the original authorities, giving references for every fact. These may easily be verified by anyone who has access to the second and tenth volumes of St. Augustine's works, the former containing his letters, the latter comprising his treatises against the Pelagians, together with an appendix of documents concerning the history of that heresy. [3]

It is not to be gainsaid that the African Church looked upon the Roman Church as ever free from heresy, or as possessing an especial gift of faith. Tertullian signalled it among Apostolic Churches as that into which the Apostles poured forth their faith with their blood. [4] To the Romans, whose faith was praised by the Apostle, says St. Cyprian, "heresy can have no access." [5] And this because it was the See of Peter (in the words of St. Cyprian) -- locus Petri, [6] cathedra Petri, ecclesia principalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est (the seat or chair of Peter, the principal Church from which the unity of the priesthood took its rise). [7] There the very chair of Peter was preserved [8] (in the words of St. Optatus) in qua una cathedra unitas ab omnibus seruaretur (that in this one chair unity should be preserved by all); [9] (and in the words of St. Augustine) ipsa est petra quam non uincunt superbae inferorum portae (that is the Rock which the gates of hell cannot conquer). [10] In the Roman Church semper apostolicae cathedra uiguit principatus (in which the primacy of an Apostolic chair has always flourished), says St. Augustine [11] the succession of its Bishops is one of the marks of the true Church as opposed to heresy. [12]

The Roman Church and the See of Peter are therefore the divinely appointed centre of unity, and at the same time, and consequently, incapable of error. Dr. Bright and Fr. Puller, following the example of a long series of Anglican writers, explain away St. Cyprian's words as if they were dealing with the Thirty-nine Articles; but the above thesis will be confirmed by the evidence brought forward in the following pages, in which the Bishop of Rome will appear as the final and inerrant judge of questions of faith.

Pelagius and Celestius Teach Heresy

The honour of producing Pelagius appears to belong to our own island (England). A monk and a layman, he resided long at Rome, and achieved some reputation for sanctity. A big, fat man, Orosius says he was; weighed down, adds St. Jerome, with the porridge of the Scots. He came from Rome to Carthage in 410, at the time that the Eternal City was sacked, and he met St. Augustine there once or twice during the following year. He was already reputed to have heretical opinions, but the Saint was too much occupied in discussions with the Donatists to take much notice of him. [13] From Africa Pelagius seems to have gone to Egypt and Palestine.

Celestius, his disciple, seems to have left Rome with his master, or about the same time, and was at Carthage by the year 411. [14] He had been born an eunuch, but was of considerable talents and of noble birth. He hoped to attain the priesthood, but was brought to the notice of Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, as a preacher of heresy. At a Council in the same year [15] he was accused by Paulinus, a deacon of Milan, who had been ordained by the great St. Ambrose, and had written his life at St. Augustine's request. Celestius was condemned and excommunicated, being obstinate in his errors. "From this sentence," says Marius Mercator, the disciple of St. Augustine and contemporary, "he thought fit to appeal to the examination of the Bishop of Rome." Yet shortly afterwards, neglecting this appeal, he went to Ephesus, and there tried to obtain the priesthood by fraud. [16]

"I could do nothing at that time," Paulinus himself wrote later on, "for he, who had appealed to the Apostolic See (Rome), was not forthcoming when he ought obviously to have defended the rights of his appeal; and especially since, even according to civil laws, when the appellant takes no steps, it is always the gainer of the original trial who is winner." [17]

No one made the slightest objection to this appeal; and we see that Mercator and Paulinus blame Celestius for not daring to follow it up at the time. Had the case been one of discipline, like that of Apiarius, it is possible that the Africans might have requested the Pope to refuse to hear him, though it is hardly probable, as Celestius was not an African. But the question, whether or not the Africans in their letter of 424 or 425 to St. Celestine denied the right of the Pope to hear appeals, does not touch the present matter, as from the facts before us and from the whole history we are about to relate, it is evident that a case of faith was naturally referred to Rome; while the appeal of the priest Apiarius was an unusual measure, being an appeal after condemnation on a criminal charge.

Further, the objections against the deciding of a matter of discipline out of the country do not apply to a matter of faith; for the chief witness both for and against the accused on a charge of heresy is the heretic himself. The question discussed in this article is not whether the Africans recognized in the Pope an ordinary jurisdiction with regard to discipline in every diocese, but what position they attributed to the Holy See with regard to questions of faith and morals.

Pelagians Opposed by Augustine and Jerome

After the Council, St. Augustine, like the other bishops of Africa, opposed the doctrine of Celestius in his sermons; [18] and later in the same year, 412, he wrote the book De peccatorum meritis et remissione in which, however, he mentions by name neither Celestius nor Pelagius, and, in fact, appears to praise the latter for his piety and learning. He added to this the book De spiritu et littera, and on the feast of St. John Baptist and again, three days later, he preached at Carthage against the same heresy. [19] Pelagius also wrote him a most complimentary letter, which he answered by a short note, saying that he had received the letter, and asking Pelagius to pray for him that he might be worthy of such compliments. [20]

It is about this time that St. Jerome addressed his well-known letter to the virgin Demestrias, whose renunciation of great wealth and position by her veiling had lately caused the admiration of all Christendom. In it he cautions her against certain heretics, who were doubtless the Pelagians. He says:

"I had nearly left out what is most important. When you were a child, and Bishop Anastasius, of holy memory, ruled the Roman Church, a fierce storm of (Origenist) heretics from the East tried to sully and destroy the simplicity of faith which was praised by the voice of the Apostles (Rom 1:8). But that man of richest poverty and Apostolic solicitude (2 Cor 11:28) straightway smote the noxious head and stopped the mouths of the hissing hydra. And because I am afraid, nay, I have heard the rumour, that these poisonous shoots are still alive and vigorous in some, I feel that I ought with the deepest affection to give you this advice, to hold the faith of holy Innocent, who is the successor and son of that man and of the Apostolic See, and not to receive any foreign doctrine however prudent and clever you may think yourself to be."

It may seem probable that Pelagius had already addressed to Demetrias the letter quoted by St. Augustine and Orosius. St. Augustine and St. Alypius, by the advice of whom she had taken the veil, wrote to her later on (417 or 418) an antidote to the heretic's epistle. [21] Later still, after the condemnation of Pelagianism by Pope Zosimus, another letter was addressed to her by an author (thought by Quesnel to have been St. Leo the Great, then a young man, by the Ballerini and others St. Prosper, but probably neither) who refers thus to this heresy:

"This impiety was resisted by the hearts of innumerable saints, and not only by every learned bishop; but even the rank and file of the Church, following the example of the Apostolic See, abhorred the madness of the new doctrine." [22]

We return to Pelagius, who on leaving Africa in 411, proceeded to Palestine, where he seems first to have been friends with St. Jerome. [23] About 414 St. Jerome wrote a letter to Ctesiphon against Pelagius, promising a fuller treatise, which he commenced in July, 415. About 414 St. Augustine wrote a letter against the Sicilian Pelagians, [24] and in 415 the treatise De natura et gratia, addressed to Timasius and Jacobus, two young men of good family, who were much troubled by a book ascribed to Pelagius. At the end of the year he wrote De perfectione justitiae.

Pelagius Tried at Jerusalem

About the middle of this year, Paulus Orosius, a Spanish priest, and later a famous historian, who had come as a disciple to St. Augustine, was sent by him to Bethlehem, that he might sit at the feet of Jerome, then the most eloquent and learned divine in the whole Church. About the 29th or 30th of July a discussion was held at Jerusalem, under the presidency of John the bishop. The apology addressed later on by Orosius to the same assembly gives an account of its first sitting: [25]

"I was in retirement in Bethlehem, having been sent by my Father Augustine that I might learn the fear of God sitting at the feet of Jerome; from thence I came at your bidding to Jerusalem. I sat down with you in the assembly at the command of the Bishop John. Thereupon with one accord you demanded of my littleness to relate faithfully and simply whatever had been done to my knowledge in Africa as to this heresy sown by Pelagius and Celestius. I exposed shortly, as best I could, how Celestius, who was then intending to creep into the order of priesthood, was at Carthage, before many bishops in judgement, exposed, heard, convicted, that he confessed, was excommunicated, fled from Africa; and how the blessed Augustine had most fully answered the book of Pelagius, at the request of the heretic's own disciples (viz. Timasius and Jacobus); and that I had in my hands a letter of the said bishop, which he had lately sent into Sicily, in which he mentions many of the heretic's views. You ordered me to read the letter, and I read it.

"Upon this John the bishop asked for Pelagius to be introduced. You gave him your consent, both for the reverence due to the bishop, and because the thing was itself good, for you thought he would be more rightly refuted in the bishop's presence. When Pelagius was admitted, you inquired of him unanimously whether he acknowledged that he had taught the doctrines which Bishop Augustine had confuted. He replied at once: 'And what is Augustine to me?' And when all cried out that a man who blasphemed against a bishop by whose mouth God had vouchsafed to heal the unity of Africa (viz. by the conversion of the Donatists) ought to be expelled not only from that assembly but from the whole Church, Bishop John thereupon told him to sit down, he a layman in the midst of priests, he accused of manifest heresy in the midst of Catholics, and then said: 'I am Augustine,' forsooth, that assuming his person he might the more easily pardon the wrongs which he took to himself, and so soothe the minds of his sorrowing audience. After making Pelagius acknowledge his doctrine, I continued:

'This is what the African Synod condemned in Celestius; this is what Bishop Augustine rejected in his writings as you heard; this is condemned by Pelagius in his own writings by his present answer; this is condemned by blessed Jerome, whose words are waited for by the whole West as the dew upon the fleece...."

The Bishop then tried to get Orosius and the rest of the assembly to pose as accusers, while he should judge. They declined, on the ground that the question was already decided. And to his objections in favour of Pelagius, Orosius replied:

"We are sons of the Catholic Church; do not you, our Father, ask us to set ourselves up as doctors above doctors or as judges above judges. The Fathers who are approved by the universal Church (viz. whom he had before referred to, Cyprian, Hilary, Ambrose, Aurelius, Augustine and Jerome), to whose communion we rejoice to belong, have declared these doctrines damnable: we must obey their decision."

The interpreter (for Orosius spoke in Latin) continually gave a wrong idea of the views of Orosius. At length Orosius cried: "The heretic is a Latin, we are Latins; the heresy, which is better known in Latin regions, should be set aside to be judged by Latin judges." Eventually,

"after many other things had passed, Bishop John (of Jerusalem) brought forth the final sentence, confirming at last our demand and intention that brethren and letters should be sent to Bishop Innocent, Pope of Rome, for all to follow what he should decide; but that the heretic Pelagius should until then be silent,"

and to this all assented. John of Jerusalem, however, himself broke this silence by violent objurgations addressed to Orosius, when the latter came to pay him a complimentary visit at the dedication festival (September 13th) and by accusations of heresy; to this Orosius replied by writing his apology. St. Jerome about the same time composed his dialogues against the Pelagians.

Pelagius Acquitted at Diospolis

About December 20th in the same year, 415, a synod was convened at Diospolis (Lydda) to consider the charges brought against Pelagius by Heros and Lazarus, bishops of Arles and Aix, who were dispossessed and travelling in Palestine. Owing to the illness of one of them neither was present at the Council, nor was Orosius. Before fourteen bishops Pelagius explained away or anathematized the errors attributed to him, and was absolved by the Council. He tried to prevent its acts being made public, but published a short account himself, of which he sent a copy to St. Augustine. He also wrote a book, De libero arbitrio, against St. Jerome, who was also attacked on the same subject by Theodore of Mopsuestia.

At the beginning of 416 Orosius returned to Hippo, bringing with him those relics of St. Stephen (whose body had just been discovered at the time of the Council of Lydda) which worked so many miracles during the next few years. [26] He also brought letters from Heros and Lazarus, who complained of the harm Pelagius was doing in Palestine. These he exhibited to a provincial synod of Africa Proconsularis, which met about June at Carthage, and consisted of sixty-eight bishops.

Sixty-Eight Bishops at Council of Carthage to Pope Innocent I

The letter written by the council to Pope Innocent I. explains their action:

"We had come according to custom to the Church of Carthage, and a synod was held for various affairs, when our fellow-priest Orosius presented us with letters from our holy brothers and fellow-bishops Heros and Lazarus, which we enclose. These having been read, we perceived that Pelagius and Celestius were accused of being authors of a wicked error, which must be anathematized by all of us. Wherefore we asked that all which had been done with regard to Celestius here in Carthage about five years ago should be gone through. This having been read, as your Holiness can perceive from the acts which we append, although the decision was clear, by which so great a wound was shown to have been cut away from the Church by an episcopal judgement, yet we thought good by a common deliberation, that the authors of this persuasion (although it was said that this Celestius had arrived since then at the priesthood), unless they openly anathematized in order that, if their salvation cannot, at least that of those who may have been or may be deceived by them may be procoured, when they know the sentence against them. This act, lord brother, we thought right to intimate to your holy charity, in order that to the statues of our littleness might be added the authority of the Apostolic See (ut statutis nostrae mediocritatis etiam apostolicae sedis adhibeatur auctoritas) for the preservation of the safety of many, and the correction of the perversity of some."

The Fathers next expose the errors of Pelagius, and after refuting them by a string of Scripture texts, they continue:

"And we fear lest by repeating to you these very things which you preach with more grace from the Apostolic seat (quae majore gratia de sede apostolica praedicas), we should seem to act inconveniently. But we do so because, just on account of our greater weakness, the more zeal we show in preaching the Word of God, the more constant and bold are the attacks of the heretics. It, therefore, Pelagius seems to your Holiness to have been justly absolved by the Episcopal acts which are said to have been transacted in the East, at all events, the error itself and impiety which has now many assertors in divers places, ought to be anathematized by the authority of the Apostolic See also. Let your Holiness consider and feel with us in your pastoral heart how baneful and destructive for the sheep of Christ is that which follows of necessity from their sacrilegious discussions."

After more theological argument, the bishops conclude thus:

"Wherefore, even if Pelagius and Celestius have amended their ways or say that they never held such opinions, and deny to be theirs whatever writings are brought as evidence against them, and if there is no way of convicting them of falsehood -- yet in general whoever asserts dogmatically, etc....let him be anathema. Whatever other things are objected against them, we doubt not that your Reverence, after perusing the Episcopal acts which are said to have been drawn up in the East in the same cause, will make such a judgment that we shall all rejoice in the mercy of God (id judicaturum unde omnes in Dei misericordia gaudeamus)." [27]

Sixty-One Bishops at Council of Milevis (Numidia) to Pope Innocent I

At the same time was held a provincial council of the province of Numidia at Milevis, [28] attended by sixty-one bishops, including St. Augustine. Imitating that of Pro-consular Africa, they also wrote to Pope Innocent:

"Since God has by a special gift of His grace set you in the Apostolic See, and has given such a one as yourself to our times, so that it could rather be imputed to us as a fault of negligence if we failed to unfold to your Reverence whatever is to be suggested for the Church, than that you should be able to receive the same with contempt or negligence, [29] we beseech you to imply your pastoral diligence to the great peril of the weak members of Christ."

After exposing the heresy, the bishops continued:

"In insinuating these things to your Apostolic breast we have no need to say much, and heap up words about this impiety, since doubtless they will move you in such wise that you will be altogether unable to refrain from correcting them, that they may creep no further....The authors of this most pernicious heresy are said to be Pelagius and Celestius, whom, indeed, we should prefer to be cured with the Church, rather than that they should be cut off from the Church, if no necessity compels this. One of them, Celestius, is even said to have arrived at the priesthood in Asia. Your Holiness is better informed by the Council of Carthage as to what was done against him a few years back. Pelagius, as the letters of some of our brethren say, is in Jerusalem, and is said to have deceived many there. Many more, however, who have been able to examine his views more closely, are fighting him on behalf of the Catholic Faith, but especially your holy son, our brother and fellow-priest, Jerome. But we consider that with the help of the mercy of our God, whom we pray to direct your counsels and to hear your prayers, those who hold such perverse and baneful opinions will more easily yield to the authority of your Holiness, which has been taken from the authority of the Holy Scriptures (auctoritati sanctitatis tuae, de sanctarum scripturarum auctoritate depromptae facilius....esse cessuros), so that we may be rather rejoiced by their correction than saddened by their destruction. But whatever they themselves may choose, your Reverence perceives that at least those many must be cared for whom they may entangle in their nets if they should not submit straightforwardly. We write this to your Holiness from the Council of Numidia, imitating our fellow bishops of the Church and province of Carthage, whom we understand to have written of this affair to the Apostolic See which your Blessedness adorns."

These two letters were carried to Italy by Julius, an African bishop. The least we can gather from them as to the Pope is that he has "more grace" [30] than the two provincial councils, and that, while the judgment of these is braved by the heretics, the authority of the Apostolic See, founded on Scripture, [31] will strike terror into them, and perhaps convert them.

The Africans ask for an authoritative condemnation by the Pope of those doctrines which they had themselves condemned, in order that the evil may be entirely cut away. They imply the view that we shall find more clearly exemplified later on, that their decision was strictly binding only in Africa, while that of Innocent would have an Ecumenical or Universal force.

Letter from Five Bishops to Pope Innocent I

But we may learn more from a third letter, longer and less formal, which was taken by Bishop Julius to Rome, signed jointly by five Bishops -- viz., Aurelius the Primate, Augustine, Alypius, Evodius and Possidius, five great names. They say:

"We send to your Holiness letters form the two Councils of the provinces of Carthage and Numidia, signed by no small number of bishops, against the enemies of the grace of Christ....Many of these rise up against us and say to our soul, 'There is no help for him in his God.' Therefore the family of Christ, which says, 'When I am weak then am I strong,' and to whom the Lord says, 'I am thy salvation,' with suspense of heart, with fear and trembling, waits for the help of the Lord also by the charity of your Reverence. For we have heard that there are many in the city of Rome, where Pelagius long lived, who favour him for various causes, some because he is said to have persuaded them of his doctrine, but a larger number because they do not believe him to hold it, especially since it is boasted that ecclesiastical acts were drawn up in the East, where he is living, by which he is declared innocent. If indeed the bishops there pronounced him Catholic, we must believe that it was for no other reason than because he said he acknowledged the grace of Christ....it is not a question of Pelagius only, but of so many others of whose loquacity and contentiousness....the world is full.

"Therefore either he should be sent for to Rome by your Reverence and carefully examined as to what grace he means when he admits (if he does admit) that men are by grace aided to avoid sin and live justly, or else this must be transacted with him by letter. And when it has been proved that he means that grace which is taught by ecclesiastical and apostolic truth, then without any doubt on the Church's part, without any lurking ambiguity, he must be absolved, and then we must really rejoice in his acquittal.

"[Much further on, c. 15:] If his supporters knew that the book which they think or know to be his has been anathematized and condemned by himself on the authority of Catholic bishops, and especially that of your Holiness, which we do not doubt will be of greater weight with him, we think they will not dare further to disturb faithful and simple Christian breasts....Wherefore we have thought it best to send to your beatitude a letter written by one of our number [St. Augustine] to Pelagius, who had sent him by a certain deacon (ordained in the East, but a citizen of Hippo) some writing to justify himself, since we think it better that you should send it to him yourself; and we pray you to do so, for so he will the rather not disdain to read it, regarding more in it him whom sent it than him who wrote it."

Thus the five bishops say just the same as the two Councils in which they had borne a part, that the Pope's greater authority will doubtless be respected where their own might be despised. [32] They do not so far state explicitly that his judgment is final or infallible. But the last sentence of their letter suggests this:

"Of the rest of the accusations against him doubtless your beatitude will judge in the same way as the acts of the two Councils. Doubtless your kindness of heart will pardon us for having sent to your Holiness a longer letter than you might perhaps have wished. For we do not pour back our little stream for the purpose of replenishing your great fountain (non enim riuulum nostrum tuo largo fonti augendo refundimus); but in the great temptation of these times (from which may He deliver us to whom we say, 'and lead us not into temptation') we wish it to be approved by you whether our stream, though small, flows from the same head of water as your abundant river, and to be consoled by your answer in the common participation of the same grace." [33]

We cannot but compare the words in which St. Augustine later sends his writings to the Holy See, non tam discenda quam examinanda, et ubi forsitan aliquid displicueret emendanda, [34] which are similar words to Pelagius' insincere protestation: emendari cupimus a te qui Petri et fidem et sedem tenes. [35]

At the same time Augustine was writing to a certain Bishop Hilary, perhaps of Narbonne, warning him against the Pelagians:

"Already, as I am writing this, we have heard that in the Church of Carthage a decree of the council of bishops has been made against them [36] to be sent by letter to the holy and venerable Pope Innocent; and we have similarly written from the Council of Numidia to the same Apostolic See." [37]

He also wrote to John of Jerusalem, explaining the heresies contained in the books attributed to Pelagius in Africa, and asking for a correct copy of the acts of Diospolis, which he as yet knew only from Pelagius' own fraudulent account. [38]

The Answers of Pope Innocent to the African Bishops

The answers of Pope Innocent to the three letters addressed to him from Africa are all dated January 27, 417. To Carthage he writes (and the letter probably emanates from a Roman Council, according to custom in grave matters) :

"In making inquiry with respect to those things that should be treated with all solicitude by bishops, and especially by a true and just and Catholic Council, by preserving, as you have done, the example of ancient tradition, and by being mindful of ecclesiastical discipline, you have truly strengthened the vigour of our Faith, no less now in consulting us than before in passing sentence. For you decided that it was proper to refer to our judgement, knowing what is due to the Apostolic See, since all we who are set in this place, desire to follow the Apostle (Peter) from whom the very episcopate and whole authority of this name is derived. Following in his steps, we know how to condemn the evil and to approve the good. So also, you have by your sacerdotal office preserved the customs of the Fathers, and have not spurned that which they decreed by a divine and not human sentence, that whatsoever is done, even though it be in distant provinces, should not be ended without being brought to the knowledge of this See, [39] that by its authority the whole just pronouncement should be strengthened, and that from it all other Churches (like waters flowing from their natal source and flowing through the different regions of the world, the pure streams of one incorrupt head), should receive what they ought to enjoin, whom they ought to wash, and whom that water, worthy of pure bodies, should avoid as defiled with uncleansable filth. I congratulate you, therefore, dearest brethren, that you have directed letters to us by our brother and fellow-bishop Julius, and that, while caring for the Churches which you rule, you also show your solicitude for the well-being of all, and that you ask for a decree that shall profit all the Churches of the world at once; [40] so that the Church being established in her rules and confirmed by this decree of just pronouncement against such errors, may be unable to fear those men, etc." [41]

The Pope goes on to declare that men who deny the necessity of grace must be cut off from the Church, lest the festering wound should corrupt the rest of the body. Should they, however, repent, he concludes, it will be in the power of the Pontiffs to assist them to a certain extent, and to give some care to these great wounds, such as that kindness which the Church is not wont to deny to the lapsed when they repent. To Milevis, Pope Innocent writes:

"Among the cares of the Roman Church and the occupations of the Apostolic See in which we treat with faithful and medicinal [42] discussion the consultations of divers, our brother and fellow-bishop Julius has brought me unexpectedly the letters of your charity which you sent from the Council of Milevis in your earnest care for the Faith, adding the writing of a smiliar complaint from the Council of Carthage. [He praises their zeal and continues:] It is therefore with due care and propriety that you consult the secrets of the Apostolic office (apostolici consulitis honoris [al. oneris] arcana) that office, I mean, to which belongs, besides the things which are without, the care of all the Churches, as to what opinion you should hold in this anxious question, following thus the ancient rule which you know has been observed with me by the whole world. [43] But this subject I dismiss, for I do not think it is unknown to your prudence; for else, why did you confirm it with your action, if you were not aware that responses ever flow from the Apostolic fountain to all provinces for those who ask them? Especially as often as a question of faith is discussed, I think that all our brothers and fellow-bishops should refer to none other than to Peter, the author of their name and office, even as now your charity has referred to us a thing which may be useful throughout the world to all the Churches in common. For all must of necessity become more cautious when they see that the inventors of evil, at the relation of two synods, have been cut off by our sentence from ecclesiastical communion. Your charity will therefore do a double good. For you will obtain the grace of having preserved the canons, and the whole world will share your benefit."

Further on he gives his decision. "We judge by the authority of Apostolic power (apostolici uigoris auctoritate) that Pelagius and Celestius be deprived of ecclesiastical communion, until they return to the faith out of the snares of the devil...." [44] To the five bishops Pope Innocent writes that "some laymen or other" had given him acts, purporting to be those of a Council wherein Pelagius was acquitted. The judgment he can neither praise nor blame, since he knows not whether the acts are genuine; or if they are, whether Pelagius did not merely escape condemnation by subterfuge. [45] A fourth letter was addressed to the Primate Aurelius alone.

We have seen what the African bishops asked. We see now that Rome gave exactly the answer they wished. The Pope compliments them on their adherence to ancient custom in referring the matter to the Bishop of Rome (himself), approves their action with regard to the heretics and their heresy, and accedes to their request that he should excommunicate them.

Anglicans Not So Bright

The doctrine of Pope St. Innocent as to the rights of the Apostolic See is more explicit but hardly wider than that of the letters to which he replies. It would need no special comment had it not raised the indignation of most modern heretics and non-Catholics. Dr. Bright assumes that the Africans felt as he does, only that they dissimulated their disgust, because it was so important for them to secure the influence of "the Apostolic and Petrine See" against Pelagianism. "They would not in such circumstances, feel bound to criticize its language about itself, but would dwell on its Catholic view of the question at issue" (quoting Bright, page 129). There is absolutely no evidence for this view of Dr. Bright's, while the letters of the Councils and of the five bishops alone are decisive against it. It is useless to protest against this a priori method of writing history. Nevertheless I will be at pains to complete the proof as carefully as though a refutation were needed.

In the first place it must not be overlooked that the African bishops knew perfectly well the stylus curiae of their time. The epistles sent to East and West from Rome on the business of some particular province or diocese were usually published to the world at large. Sometimes the bishop who received them was expected to publish them; sometimes the letter was sent elsewhere from Rome, with a mere change in the greeting, while the contents betray their original destination.

The Africans must have been familiar with many other letters of Siricius, Innocent and their pedecessors, most of which are lost to us; but we can judge of their claims by the existing letters, [46] and by those of the succeeding Pontiffs, Zosimus, Boniface, Celestine, Leo, Hilarus, and so on. As for the predecessors of Siricius, their letters are few and far between, but those we possess of Damasus make no lesser claims. And who can forget the two famous letters sent to Africa, which roused the wrath of Tertullian and St. Cyprian? These epistles, so far as we can gather, were just in the style of the letters before us; the former was as from a Pontifex maximus and episcopus episcoporum (Bishop of bishops); [47] the latter enjoined obedience to ancient custom under pain of excommunication, by the authority of that Rock on whom Christ built His Church (Matt 16:18). [48]

The African bishops therefore knew perfectly well what style of answer they would get, and we should be surprised if they did not receive the answers with joy. We shall, in fact, presently come upon many proofs that they did, and even upon many direct approvals of the Pope's claims. I simply defy Dr. Bright or anyone else to find any ancient authority for his theory that in the view of the Africans the decision of their two Councils were a co-ordinate element with the letters of Innocent in the condemnation of the Pelagian heresy. Such a theory would force us to ignore the meaning of the words relatio, referre, constantly and consistently used of the action of these Councils, which imply the reference of a matter to a higher authority, and correspond with the words rescripta, rescribere, applied to the letters of the Pope. One would be obliged also to forget the words of the five Bishops given above, implying the possibility (however improbable) of their decision being corrected by the Pope's reply. Here are some of the passages in which the decision is ascribed by contemporaries to Pope St. Innocent alone.

More Contemporary Commentary on Pope Innocent's Decision

St. Prosper, the devoted admirer of St. Augustine, writing twelve years later, has the following reference: [49]

Pestem subeuntem prima recidit Sedes Roma Petri, quae pastoralis honoris Facta caput mundo, quicquid non possidet armis Relligione tent. [50] Non segnior inde Orientis Rectorum cura emicuit, etc.

(First to hew down the oncoming scourge was Rome, the See of Peter, which, having been made capital of the world's Pastoral Office, holds by religion whatever it does not hold by arms. Next, and not lingering behind, sprang forward the guardian of the Eastern leaders, etc)

The same writer has the expressions: "At that time the Pelagians, who had already been condemned by Pope Innocent were being resisted by the vigour of the Africans and above all by the learning of Bishop Augustine"; [51] and

"They fell when Innocent, of blessed memory, struck the heads of the deadly error with the apostolic sword, apostolico mucrone percussit, when the synod of Palestinian bishops drove Pelagius to condemn himself and his followers; when Pope Zosimus, of blessed memory, joined the strength of his sentence to the decrees of the African Councils (i.e. those of next year), and armed the right hands of all bishops with the sword of Peter for the cutting off of the impious. When Pope Boniface, of holy memory, rejoiced in the devotion of the most pious emperors, and made use against the enemies the grace of God, not only of apostolic, but also of royal edicts; and when, though himself most learned, he asked for answers to the books of the Pelagians from blessed Bishop Augustine." [52]

Here is Marius Mercator's account (the explanations in brackets are those of Chapman) :

"Celestius and Pelagius were not then for the first time condemned by (Pope) Zosimus of blessed memory, but by his predecessor Innocent, of holy memory, by whom Julian had been ordained. And Julian, after their condemnation, until the death of Innocent, remained in his communion and persevered in the true faith; and since he communicated with him who had condemned Pelagius and Celestius, doubtless he condemned them himself; and what he wants now, or of what he complains, I do not know. Now the reason for this condemnation by Innocent, of blessed memory, was the following: After the devastation of Rome (by Alaric in 410) Pelagius was living in Palestine. His books were discovered by certain careful bishops (viz. Heros and Lazarus) in which he has evidently written many things against the Catholic Faith. These books were sent, together with letters, to the Fathers and bishops in Africa, where the books were read at the three Councils which were assembled (i.e. those of Carthage, Milevis, and of the five Bishops). From thence relations were sent to Rome, together with the books; the apostolic sentence in reply to the Councils followed, which deprived Pelagius and Celestius of ecclesiastical communion, and we have in our hands copies of these writings" (i.e. the letters of Pope Innocent). [53]

Here, again, the whole sentence is ascribed to Innocent, and the African Councils are merely represented as referring the matter to him. In the book called Praedestinatus, written some twenty or thirty years after, and attributed to Arnobius the younger, we find the following:

"Pope Innocent, when the matter was referred to him by nearly all the African Bishops, wrote the condemnation of both Pelagius and Celestius. These later, however, whether before they were condemned by the universal Church, or after they were condemned, did not cease to write," etc. [54]

Here again the judgment of Innocent is simply treated as final; while apparently it is considered to be a condemnation by the universal Church. The subsequent sentence of Pope Zosimus may, however, be meant, which was signed by all bishops. But Gennadius, at the end of the century, the later author of the Liber Pontificalis, and the contemporary Possidius have similar expressions. [55] Again, the Council of 214 Bishops which met early in the next year at Carthage has: "We decide that the sentence against Pelagius and Celestius promulgated by the venerable Bishop Innocent from the See of the blessed Apostle Peter remain firm, until they shall confess," etc. [56] Again, Paulinus, [57] in his account (which will be quoted further on) of the trial of Celestius before Pope Zosimus, has no mention of the African Councils, but openly professes belief in the inerrancy of the Roman See.

St. Augustine and Pelagianism

To make the proof complete let us look at St. Augustine's own statements on the subject. We have already seen him at the Council of Milevis and in the private letter of five bishops referring the matter to the Pope in terms which alone totally exclude Dr. Bright's view. He was also the prime leader of the 214 Bishops just cited, and St. Prosper, Marius Mercator and the Milanese Paulinus were proud to be his disciples. Yet I add his express words:

"Do you think these Fathers -- viz. Irenaeus, Cyprian, Reticius, Hilary, Ambrose [whom he had been quoting] are to be despised because they all belong to the Western Church, and I have mentioned no Eastern Bishop among them? What are we to do, since they are Greeks and we are Latins? I think that you ought to be satisfied with that part of the world in which our Lord willed to crown the chief (primus) of His apostles (Peter) with a glorious martyrdom. If you had been willing to hear blessed Innocent, the president of that Church, you would have long ago disengaged your perilous youth from the nets of the Pelagians. For what could that holy man answer to the African Councils, except what from of old the Apostolic See and the Roman Church with all others perseveringly holds? And yet you accuse his successor Zosimus of prevarication, because he would not allow the apostolic doctrine and the decision of his successor to be rescinded. But I say no more of this, that I may not, by the praise of him who condemned you, irritate your mind, which I desire rather to heal than to wound. See what you can reply to St. Innocent, who has no other view than have those into whose council I have introduced you (viz. the Fathers whom he had quoted); with these he sits also, though after them in time, before them in rank (etsi posterior tempore prior loco)....answer him, or rather our Lord Himself, whose words he alleges....What will you say? What can you answer? For it you should call blessed Innocent a Manichean, surely you will not dare to say it of Christ?" [58]

Again St. Augustine relates that while Celestius refused at Rome to condemn the views which Paulinus accused him of holding, which was equivalent to denying the authority of the Council of Carthage in 411, from which he had appealed, yet "he did not dare to resist the letters of the blessed pope Innocent," [59] the same Innocent who condemned Pelagius and Celestius. [60]

"And the words of the venerable Bishop Innocent to the Council of Carthage....What more plain and clear than this sentence of the Apostolic See? To this Celestius professed to consent when....he answered: 'I condemn them according to the sentence of your holy predecessor Innocent.'...."What of that which the same Pope wrote in answer to the Bishops of Numidia also (because he had received letters from both Councils -- that is, both of Carthage and Milevis) does it not speak clearly of infants?" [61]

Again : he speaks of Celestius seeming to be Catholic "when he answered that he consented to the letters of Pope Innocent, of blessed memory, by which all doubt about this matter was removed." [62] This last sentence alone is sufficient proof.

The following passage is also to be noted, written at the end of the Saint's life: "Let blessed Innocent also reply, the prelate of the Roman Church, who in answering (rescribens) the African Episcopal Councils in your case said: (he then quotes a passage from the letter to the Council of Carthage). 'Do you see what the Catholic Faith holds by her minister?' 'Videsne quid sapiat per ministrum suum catholica fides?'" [63]

Other equally strong passages will be quoted shortly, while St. Augustine's treatment of the decisions of Innocent's successor will also throw light on the subject later on.

History of Pelagianism Continued

Let us continue the interrupted history. Before receiving the Pope's answers, St. Augustine had at length received authentic copies of the acts of the synod of Diospolis, which Innocent himself had not yet been able to procure, and which St. Augustine had besought John of Jerusalem to send him. He found in them, as he had already divined, that Pelagius had only been acquitted because he feigned to accept Catholic doctrine. He thereupon wrote the book De gestis Pelagii in which he shows that in the absence of his accusers, Heros and Lazarus, and in the presence of judges who could not read the book in question because they did not know latin, Pelagius had evaded condemnation without difficulty.

About the same time the followers of Pelagius in Palestine wreaked vengeance on their vigorous opponent St. Jerome, by storming his monastery and that of his disciples, Eustochium and Paula, a deacon being killed and St. Jerome himself taking refuge in a tower. [64] This grievous outrage, writes St. Augustine, does not concern himself, but must be punished by the local bishops. The Pope, to whom Eustochium and Paula appeared, wrote a severe letter to rebuke John of Jerusalem who had taken no measures to protect the servants and virgins of Christ, and another letter to St. Jerome, saying that he had hastened to seize the authority of the Apostolic See to repress all wickedness, only that the name of the author of the crime had not been divulged, nor had a formal accusation been lodged. John of Jerusalem was perhaps already dead when the letter of St. Innocent reached Palestine. This great Pope himself died on March 12th of this year, 417.

Not long after this date, St. Augustine and St. Alypius wrote to St. Paulinus of Nola, whom they knew to have been formerly a friend of Pelagius, to warn him against his doctrines, which were said to be spreading among the citizens of Nola, and of which St. Paulinus himself appears to have been claimed as protector. They gave him an account of the Synod of Diospolis, and enclosed copies of the letters of the African councils to St. Innocent, and of the Pope's replies. They say:

"After letters had come to us from the East, discussing the case in the clearest manner, we were bound not to fail in assisting the Church's need with such episcopal authority as we possess (nullo modo jam qualicumque episcopali auctoritate deesse Ecclesiae debueramus). In consequence, relations as to this matter were sent from two Councils -- those of Carthage and of Milevis -- to the Apostolic See, before the ecclesiastical acts by which Pelagius is said to have been acquitted had come into our hands or into Africa at all. We also wrote to Pope Innocent, of blessed memory a private letter, besides the relations of the Councils, wherein we described the case at greater length, TO ALL OF THESE HE ANSWERED IN THE MANNER WHICH WAS THE RIGHT AND DUTY OF THE BISHOP OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE (Ad omnia nobis ille rescripsit eo modo quo fas erat atque oportebat Apostolicae sedis Antistitem). All of which you may now read, if perchance none of them or not all of them have yet received you; in them you will see that, while he has preserved the moderation which was right, so that the heretic should not be condemned if he condemns his errors, yet the new and pernicious error is so restrained by ecclesiastical authority that we much wonder that there should be any still remaining who, by any error whatsoever, try to fight against the grace of God...." [65]

Here two Saints writing to another Saint explain the African method of using episcopal authority for the good of the Church. It consists in sending an authoritative account of the heresy rampant in their province to the Apostolic See at Rome, that the Pope may ratify their action and publish an anathema to the whole Church. His "swelling words" and "apocryphal history" are described as what was fitting and proper from the successor of St. Peter. [66]

Rome has Spoken, the Case is Concluded

It was on Sunday, September 23rd, 417, that St. Augustine, being at Carthage, preached "at the table of Cyprian" that famous sermon against Pelagianism which concludes with these words:

"My brethren, be of one mind with me. Wheresoever you find such men do not hide them, have no perverse pity. Refute those who contradict, and bring to us those who resist. For already two Councils have been sent to the Apostolic See concerning this matter, and rescripts have come from thence [from Rome]. The case is concluded; would that the error would soon cease also. Causa finita est, utinam aliquando finiatur error. [67]

True, the question of dogma was decided for ever, but yet the case was not yet finished. While Augustine spoke, letters were on their way from the new Pope (Zosimus), declaring that Celestius and Pelagius were innocent victims of malicious calumny, and had never taught the errors attributed to them [is this a case of "papal fallibility" ? -- see part II for the answer]; while they most humbly submitted to past and future judgments of the Holy See.

END OF PART ONE


ENDNOTES for Part I: Pope Innocent and the Condemnation of Pelagianism

(some of the longer technical notes have been edited for brevity)

[1] p. 67, Engl tr note. "Janus" is J. H. Ignaz von Dollinger. [2] Eirenicon, p. 66. [3] The pages given are those of Migne. Once for all I acknowledge my debt to the invaluable Benedictine preface to vol X which I have continually used. The disquisitions of the Ballerini have, of course, been a necessary accompaniment, with Pagi, Tillemont, Hefele, Jungmann, etc. [4] De Praesc 36; cf. Adu Marc iv, 5. [5] Referring to Rom 1:8, a text constantly quoted by the Fathers, Eastern and Western, in this way; cf. Revue Benedictine of Maredsous, Dec 1895, 547-557. [6] Ep 59. Ed Hartel, 683, cf. Ep 60, p. 692. [7] Ep 55, p. 630. [8] St. Optatus II, 2. Ed Vindob (Dr. Bright's attempt to explain away this well-known passage need not detain us here) and Tert de Praesc loc cit; cf. Cyprian Ep 59, loc cit. cf. Roma Sotteranea, vol i, app ii, note A.2, p. 488. [9] Opt, loc cit. [10] St. Augustine, Ps. c. partes Donati str 18, vol ix, p. 30. Migne, cf. Opt ii,ix. original Latin: Per cathedram Petri, quae nostra est, et ceteras dotes apud nos esse. [11] Aug Ep 43,3,7, vol ii, p. 163. [12] Aug c. Ep Fund Man iv, 5, vol viii, p. 175; cf. Ep 53, i, vol ii, p. 196 and De util cred xvii, 35, vol viii, p. 91. [13] Aug, De gestis Pel xxii, 46. [14] The Benedictines and Quesnel gave 412 as the date of the Council which condemned Celestius, since the Council of Carthage in 417 calls it about five years ago. The Ballerini have shown (Opp S Leon, iii, p. 845. PL 56, p. 1008) that 411 is more likely. [15] St. Augustine was not present. De gestis Pel xi, 23. [16] Comm secundum 2 in app vol x. S Aug p. 1687, and PL xlviii. [17] Ibid, p. 1725, in the Libellus, sent by Paulinus to Pope Zosimus in Nov 417. [18] Serm 170, 174, 5, 6. [19] Serm 293, 4. [20] Ep 146, cf. De gestis Pel 26,51, p. 349. [21] Ep 188. [22] PL vol lv, p. 269 (170), cap 10. [23] Veterem necessitudinem, Aug vol x, app 52, from Jerome in Jerem Bk iv, vol iv, p. 967. PL xxv, p. 825. But Vallarsi remarks that the Bishop of Jerusalem may be meant. [24] Ep 156, 7. [25] In Aug vol x, app ii. [26] De Ciu Dei, xxii, 8. Serm 319-324 ff. [27] Ep 175, inter Aug (vol ii, p. 758 seq). A better text is given by the Ballerini of this and the five following letters. They may also be found in Mansi and Constant (PL vol xx). [28] I write Milevis because it seems to be the commonest spelling. [29] The sentence is not quite logical as it stands; I translate literally. [30] For the sense of majore gratia compare St. Augustine's well-known comparison of St. Peter with St. Cyprian (in Latin) "Si distat gratia cathedrarum una est tamen martyrii gloria." De bapt c Don ii, 1, vol ix, p. 127. [31] It would need more prejudice in Dr. Bright's readers than he has any right to presume, for them to believe that de s. scripturarum auctoritate depromptae means merely that Innocent would rest his decision upon scriptural quotations...if the Pelagians were so Protestant that they would yield to nothing but "texts" why should they "yield more easily" to the open Bible of Innocent than to that of the Africans? So far it is clear that Dr. Bright makes nonsense of the passage...the primacy of Peter, which St. Augustine finds in Scripture is continued in the Bishops of Rome (tract 56 in Joann vol iii, p. 788; de bapt c. Don ubi supra ii, 1, vol ix, p. 127, and Ep 43,3,7, vol ii, p. 163. [32] The attentions and opinion of one of the five bishops -- Possidius -- are testified in his life of St. Augustine, cap xviii. [33] Ep 177, vol ii, p. 764-772. [34] C. 2, Epp Pell i, 1. vol x, p. 551. [35] Libellus in App vol x, p. 1718. [36] These words sufficiently dispose of the supposition of Garnier, Tillemont and others that St. Augustine composed the decree and letter of the Council of Carthage. [37] Ep 178, p. 773. [38] Ep 179. [39] Long note citing Dr. Bright on "swelling words" and "apocryphal history" omitted. What Innocent, Zosimus, Boniface, Celestine, and their successors throughout this century all repeated and acted upon in East and West was at least not looked upon as apocryphal history in their time, for they were disobeyed frequently, but they were never contradicted. Dr. Bright is at liberty to disbelieve them. He is not at liberty to imply that the Church of the fifth century disbelieved them. [40] This is exactly the expression of what the Africans wanted. Their decision was for Africa only, and might be appealed against. That of the Pope was for the whole Church, and final. [41] Ep 181. [42] Medica, Ball; modica, Bened; non modica, conj Garnier. [43] Among such of St. Innocent's letters which remain to us we find answers or directions sent to Africa, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Moesia, Thessaly, Rouen, Toulouse, Toledo, etc. Traces of others may be found in Jaffe. The real amount of the correspondence of the Popes at this time must have been very great. Cf. Jerome, Ep 123, 10, vol i, p. 907. PL xxii, 1052. [44] Ep 182. [45] Ep 183. [46] We possess six letters of Siricius, three of his successor Anastasius, two in Coustant, another published by Pitra (Analecta Nouissima) as of Anastasius II, and thirty-four of Innocent. [47] De puducitia, c. I. [48] St. Cyprian (Firmilian) Ep 75. [49] De ingratis i, 39. [50] The same epigram that Rome rules by her faith what once she ruled by arms, occurs in the contemporary book De uocatione gentium, ii, 16. PL 51, p. 905 (704), technical note omitted. [51] Chron in ann 416 (i.e. 417). [52] C. Collat c. xxi (al xli) PL 51, p. 362 (271) and in App S. Aug vol x, p. 1831. [53] original Latin: Exinde relationibus Romam missis, ipsis quoque libris pariter, destinatis, apostolica sententia rescribentis ad praedicta concilia emanauit, etc. (Commonitorium C. Pel 10, 11, in App S. Aug vol x, p. 1689, PL xlviii, p. 70). [54] original Latin: Tunc ad relationen pene omnium Africorum episcoporum Papa Innocentius damnationem et Pelagio et Coelestio conscripsit. (Praedest haer 88. PL 53 and App vol x, Aug, p. 1682). [55] original Latin: Innocentius...scripsit decretum, occidentalium et orientalium ecclesiis aduersus Pelagianos datum. Post quem successor ejus papa Zosimus latius promulgauit (Gennad De uiris illustr c. 43). Hic constitutum fecit de omni ecclesia (Lib Pontif) and Possid, c. 18. [56] Prosper c. Collat c. v. 15. PL 51, p. 319 (227), or in App St. Aug vol x, p. 1808. [57] Ibid. App p. 1724. [58] C. Julian i, c. iv. 13, p. 648. Julian had called St. Augustine's doctrine Manichean. The saint shows that in that case the above-mentioned doctors and Pope Innocent, nay, Christ Himself, were Manicheans, technical note omitted. [59] De pecc orig c. vii, 8, p. 389. [60] C. Julian ii, c. x. 36, p. 699. [61] Ibid. c. iv, 6, 7. [62] Ibid. c. iii, 5. p. 574. [63] Op imperf bk vi, c. xi, p. 1520. [64] De gestis Pel c. xxxv, p. 358. [65] Ep 186, i. 2, 3, p. 817. [66] Further on (viii. 29) in the same letter we find again mention of submission to the Apostolic See -- original Latin: Si autem cedunt sedi Apostolicae (Nolani) uel potius ipsi Magistro et Domino Apostolorum qui dicit. [67] Serm 131, 10, vol v, p. 734. St. Augustine's words are the origin of the common saying: Roma locuta est, causa finita est translated Rome has spoken; the case is closed (or the cause is finished, the dispute is at an end).


Next Part II: Pope Zosimus and Pelagianism

See also:

St. Cyprian on the Church and the Papacy by Dom John Chapman

St. Athanasius, Arianism, and the Holy See by Dom John Chapman

St. John Chrysostom on the Apostle Peter by Dom John Chapman

St. Jerome and Rome by Dom John Chapman

And The Primitive Church and the See of Peter by Luke Rivington


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