Churches Taken by Heretics to be Restored to Christian Leaders

Churches Taken by Heretics to be Restored to Christian Leaders

Emperor Theodosius II

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Roman emperors Theodosius II and Valentinian III issue a new decree demanding that churches taken over by heretics be restored to orthodox Christian leaders and that clergy created by heretic leaders be fined.

This new law against heretics says:

"The madness of heretics must be suppressed and the churches which they have taken from the orthodox must be immediately be returned to the Catholic Church. It cannot be tolerated that those who shouldn't even have their own churches continue to retain those created by the orthodox then invaded by rash lawlessness.

If heretics join to themselves other priests, a fine of ten pounds of gold will be imposed on each, both the one who created the cleric and the one who was made a cleric....

The Arians, the Macedonians, and the ApolIinarians are not be permitted to have a church within any municipality. The Novatians and Sabbatians are not allowed to have any innovation. The Eunomians, the Valentinians, the Montanists or Priscillianists, the Phrygians, the Marcianists, the Borborians, the Messalians, the Euchites or Enthusiasts, the Donatists, the Audians, the Hydroparastatae, the Tascodrogitae, the Photinians, the Paulians, the Marcellians, and those who occupy at the lowest depth of wickedness, namely the Manichaeans, are not allowed to assemble and pray anywhere on Roman. The Manichaeans especially must be expelled from Roman municipalities in order to deprive them of doing any injury to others.

None shall be employed by the imperial service except on gubernatorial office staffs in the provinces and as soldiers in the camp. None have the right to make reciprocal gifts or to make a testaments and wills. ...

Moreover, heretics are to be excluded from all civil and military power,..." [CT 16.5.65]

This law is consistent with so many others in that it specifically labels heresy as a "madness." The word heresy comes from the Greek word for "choice," thus calling heresy a form of madness is designed to implicitly deny that it is in any way a legitimate or reasonable choice. It is instead something that only an insane person would do — though rather than treating heretics like someone who is ill, the law treats heretics like criminals.

This is a contradiction which helps reveal the true ideological underpinnings of such laws.


Emperors of Rome: Valentinian III

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