Emperors Order North African Pagan Priests to Return to Their Ancestral Cities

Emperors Order North African Pagan Priests to Return to Their Ancestral Cities

Emperor Theodosius II

Roman emperors Honorius and Theodosius II decree that pagan priests in North Africa must return to their ancestral cities, and that any site that was once devoted to paganism will now be confiscated and possibly handed over to the Christian church. Anything that induces people to worship pagan gods must be eliminated.

According to this new decree:

"Priests of the pagan superstition shall be subject to the punishment if they do not depart from Carthage and return to their ancestral municipalities before the kalends of November.

In accordance with the constitution of the sainted Gratian, We command that all places that were assigned by the false doctrine of the ancients to pagan sacred rituals must be confiscated ... [and] the fruits from such places shall be exacted from the unlawful possessors thereof.

We decree that this regulation shall be observed not only throughout Africa, but throughout all regions situated in Our world. Moreover, if it was expressed in Our constitutions that any such property should belong to the venerable Church, then it will be turned over to the Christian religion to itself.

Thus all outlay belonging at one time to pagan superstition which has been rightfully condemned ... will now assist the income of Our household after their false doctrines have been abolished.

If anything has ever been consecrated to pagan sacrifices and thus served as a means for deceiving men, it must be removed from the public so that it no longer furnishes allurement to the erring. [CTh 16.10.20]

The suppression of paganism and persecution of pagans keeps getting worse. Before, pagans were simply prevented from using their temples; now the emperors are explicitly looking to transfer the buildings and properties to others, and to Christian institutions in particular.

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