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Archbishop of Carthage; first to unmask and denounce Pelagianism

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Aurelius, Archbishop of Carthage from 388 to 423. From the time of St. Cyprian, Carthage was one of the foremost sees in Christendom. Its bishop, though not formally bearing the title of Primate, confirmed the episcopal nominations in all the provinces of Africa, convoked and presided at the plenary councils, which were held almost yearly, and signed the synodal letters in the name of all the participants. Such a post Aurelius occupied with distinction at a time when Africa held the intellectual leadership in the Church. His episcopate coincided with the last great effort made by the Donatists to uphold a losing cause, and with the first appearance of Pelagianism. Both these crises Aurelius met with equal decision and wisdom. A man of conciliating disposition, and a great lover of peace, his tendency to an indulgent treatment of repentant Donatists was conspicuous in the synodal acts of his own church, and in the plenary councils over which he presided he consistently upheld the same moderate policy. But when the Donatists resorted to rebellion and wholesale murder, he joined his colleagues in appealing to the secular power. He was the first to unmask and denounce Pelagianism. In 412 he excommunicated and drove from Carthage Clestius, the disciple of Pelagius. In 416 he condemned them both, in a synod of sixty-eight bishops of the Proconsulate, and induced Innocent I to brand their two principal errors by defining the necessity of grace and of infant baptism. When Pope Zosimus allowed himself to be deceived by Pelagius’s lying professions, he held (417) a plenary council of his African brethren, and in their names warned the pontiff, who in turn (418) condemned the heresiarchs. Aurelius is mentioned in the African martyrology on July 20.

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