Roman Law: Church Conflcits to be Resolved by Church Leaders

Roman Law: Church Conflcits to be Resolved by Church Leaders

Emperor Valens
Source: Jastrow

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Roman emperors Valens and Gratian issue a decree stating that disagreements about church issues have to be resolved by church leaders unless it is a criminal matter, in which case secular judges must be brought in.

According to this new law:

"The customs of civil suits will be observed in ecclesiastical suits. If any legal complaints develop out of dissensions and offenses relating to religious practices, let them be dealt with in their own churches and synods and diocese.

The exception will be cases in which criminal action has established; those will be heard by ordinary and extraordinary judges." [CTh 16.2.23]

Letting churches take care of their own problems raises their status in the Roman empire as other institutions are not granted this same privilege. The Roman civil courts are supposed to stand above them all, but more and more the Christian churches are standing apart from the rest of society. They use their own parallel institutions and, over time, can disregard the usual expectations and requirements that apply to everyone else.

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Emperors of Rome: Valens

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