Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 4.djvu/664

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CYPRIAN


586


CYPRIAN


but Harnack and many Protestants, as well as many Catholics, find here a statement that the Roman Church is the womb and root. Cyprian continues that he had waited for a formal report from the bish- ops who had been sent to Rome, before committing all the bishops of Africa, Numidia, and Mauretania to a decision, in order that, when no doubt could remain, all his colleagues "might firmly approve and hold your communion, that is the imity and charity of the Catholic Church". It is certain that St. Cyprian held that one who was in communion with an anti- pope held not the root of the Catholic Church, was not nourished at her breast, drank not at her fountain.

So little was the rigorism of Novatian the origin of his schism, that his chief partisan was no other than Novatus, who at Carthage had been reconciling all the lapsed indiscriminately without penance. He seems to have arrived at Rome j ust after the election of Cornelius, and his adhesion to the party of rigorism had the curious result of destroying the opposition to Cyprian at Carthage. It is true that Felicissimus fought manfully for a tune; he even procured five bishops, all excommunicated and deposed, who conse- crated for the party a certain Fortunatus in opposi- tion to St. Cyprian, in order not to be outdone by the Novatian party, who had already a rival bishop at Carthage. The faction even appealed to St. Cornelius, and Cyprian had to write to the pope a long account of the circumstances, ridiculing their presumption in " sailing to Rome, the priinatial Church {ecclcsia ■prin- cipalis), the Chair of Peter, whence the unity of the Episcopate had its origin, not recollecting that these are the Romans whose faith w.-is praised bySt.Paul (Rom., i, 8), to whom unfaith could have no access". But this embassy was naturally unsuccessful, and the party of Fortunatus and Felicissimus seems to have melted away.

The Lap.sed. — With regard to the lapsed the coun- cil had decided that each case must be judged on its merits, and that Uhcllfitici should be restored after varying, but lengthy, terms of penance, whereas those who had actually sacrificed might after life-long pen- ance receive Communion in the hour of death. But any one who put off sorrow and penance until the hour of sickness must be refused all Communion. The decision was a severe one. A recrudescence of persecution, annoimced, Cyprian tells us, by numer- ous visions, caused the assembling of another council in the summer of 252 (so Benson and Nelke, but Ritschl and Harnack prefer 2.53), in which it was decided to restore at once all those who were doing penance, in order that they might be fortified by the Holy Eucharist against trial. In this persecution of Callus and Volusianus, the Church of Rome was again tried, but this time Cyprian was able to congratulate the pope on the firmness shown; the whole Church of Rome, he says, had confessed unanimously, and once again its faith, praised by the Apostle, was celebrated throughout the whole world (Ep. Ix). About June 253, Cornelius was exiled to Centumcellae (Civitavec- chia), and died there, being counted as a martyr by Cyprian and the rest of the Church. His successor Lucius was at once sent to the same place on his election, but soon was allowed to return, and Cyprian wrote to congratulate him. He died 5 March, 254, and was succeeded by Stephen, 12 May, 254.

Rebaptism of Heretics. — TertuUian had charac- teristically argued long before, that heretics have not the same God, the same Christ with Catholics, there- fore their baptism is null. The African Church had adopted this view in a council held vmder a [)red('ces- sor of Cyprian, Agrippinus, at Carthage. In the East it was also the custom of Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Galatia to rebaptize Montanists who returned to the Church. Cyiirian's opinion of baptism by heretics was strongly expressed: "Non abluuutur illic hom- ines, sed potius sordidantur, nee purgantur delicta


sed immo cumulantur. Non Deo nativitas ilia sed j diabolo filios generat" ("De Unit.", xi). A cer- j tain bishop, Magnus, wrote to ask if the baptism ' 1 of the Novatians was to be respected (Ep. Ixix). i j Cyprian's answer may be of the year 255; he denies \i that they are to be distinguished from any other \ heretics. Later we find a letter in the same sense, I probably of the spring of 255 (autumn, according to 1 d'.^les), from a council under Cyprian of thirty-one j bishops (Ep. Ixx), addressed to eighteen Numidian j bishops; this was apparently the beginning of the controversy. It appears that the bishops of Maure- ! tania did not in this follow the custom of Proconsular Africa and Numidia, and that Pope Stephen sent them a letter approving their adherence to Roman custom. Cyprian, being consulted by a Numidian bishop, Quintiis, sent him Ep. Ixx, and replied to his difficul- ties (Ep. Ixxi). The spring council at Carthage in the following year, 256, was more numerous than usual, and sLxty-one bishops signed the conciliar letter to the pope explaining their reasons for rebaptizing, and claiming that it was a question upon which bishops were free to differ. This was not Stephen's view, and he immediately issued a decree, couched evidently in very peremptory terms, that no "innovation" was to be made (this is taken by some moderns to mean " no new baptism"), but the Roman tradition of merely laying hands on converted heretics in sign of absolu- tion must be everywhere observed, under pain of ex- communication. The letter was evidently addressed to the African bishops, and contained some severe censures on Cyprian himself. Cyprian writes to Jubaianus that he is defending the one Church, the Church foimded on Peter — Why then is he called a prevaricator of the truth, a traitor to the truth? (Ep. Ixxiii, 11). To the same correspondent he sends Epp. lx,x, Ix.xi, Ixxii; he makes no laws for others, but retains his own liberty. He sends also a copy of his newly written treatise "De Bono Patientiie". To Pompeius, who had asked to see a copy of Stephen's rescript, he writes with great violence: "As you read it, you will note his error more and more clearly; in approving the baptism of all the heresies, he has heaped into his own breast the sins of all of them ; a fine tradition indeed ! What blindness of mind, what depravity!" — "ineptitude", "hard obstinacy", — such are the expressions which run from the pen of one who declared that opinion on the subject was free, and who in this very letter explains that a bishop must never be quarrelsome, but meek and teachable. In Septem- ber, 256, a yet larger coimcil assembled at Carthage. All agreed with Cyprian ; Stephen was not mentioned ; and some writers have even supposed that the council met before Stephen's letter was received (so Ritschl, Grisar, Ernst, Bardenhewer). Cyprian did not wish the responsibility to be all his own. He declared that no one made himself a bishop of bishops, and that all must give their true opinion. The vote of each was therefore given in a short speech, and the minutes have come down to us in the Cyprianic correspondence under the title of "SententiiE Episcoporura ". But the messengers sent to Rome with this document were refused an audience and even denied all hospitality by the pope. The}' returned incontinently to Carthage, and Cyprian tried for support from the East. He wrote to the famous Bishop of C;B.sarea in Cappadocia, Firmilian, sending him the treatise "De Unitate" and the correspondence on the baptismal question. By the middle of November Firmilian 's reply had arrived, and it has come down to us in a translation made at the time in Africa. Its tone is, if possible, more violent than that of Cyprian. tSee Fir.\ui.i.\n.) Af- ter this wo Uni)\v no more of the controversy.

Stephen ilieil on 27 .\ugu.':t, 257, and Wiis succeeded by Sixtus II. who certainly communicated with Cyprian, and is called by Pontius "a good and peace- loving bishop". I'robably when it was seen at Rome