Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 267: Pope Innocent
Through Bishop Julius, Pope Innocent received three letters: one from the Council of Carthage, one from the Council of Mileve, and one from the five bishops.2 The pope may have been surprised because he did not as yet know to what extent Pelagianism had spread. He responded to the three letters by three of his own at the beginning of 417.3 His letter to the Council of Mileve is dated January 27, under the consuls Honorus and Constantius (417). The other two letters are dated at the same time in the recent editions on manuscript authority.4 Innocent may have written them after holding his own council on this subject: popes at the time were not accustomed to act and write on affairs of this magnitude without assembling their clergy and Roman and nearby bishops. Innocent’s letters were sent to Africa through Bishop Julius.5
In these letters Innocent praised the erudition, zeal, and vigilance of the African bishops.6 They cared for the churches they governed and extended their concern universally. He praised the two councils for what they addressed to the Holy See and emphasized the dignity and authority of both.
Some time previously Innocent had received the acts of the Council of Diospolis in Rome through laymen.7 He noted a lack of sincerity in Pelagius’ responses. These acts arrived without letters from either Pelagius or the absolving bishops. These failures in and of themselves did not cause him...