Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren
Article 283: Orthodoxy and Pelagianism
Orthodoxy and Pelagianism
In his encyclical letter against the Pelagians Zosimus not only requested the bishops to reject this heresy but apparently asked them to authorize the condemnation each by his own signature. Speaking of Constantinople in a memoire addressed in 419 to the church there, Mercator says clearly that Zosimus’ letter had been confirmed through the signatures of the bishops.1 Prosper says the entire Church had written a sentence against the Pelagians by the hand of all the prelates; Zosimus had placed the sword of Peter in the hand of the bishops.2 Thus the Pelagians had been destroyed as impious, and their teachings had been condemned by the hand of the councils and the Church universal.3 In effect Pelagians pleaded certain bishops had been obliged to sign individually in their own churches without being assembled in council for that purpose.4
According to some scholars Roman clerics and even the Roman laity were forced to sign.5 The Pelagian accusations concerning the prevarication of the Roman clergy and the anathema by Sixtus give us reason to believe the Roman clergy was obliged to declare itself.6 In the rest of the Church no proof can be alleged for forced declarations.
African bishops present at the councils had signed the condemnation against the Pelagians.7 Other bishops of the same African provinces signed at the end of the year, following the law of June 9, 419. Evidently the bishops of other Roman provinces signed...