chapter  1
18 Pages

Church Reform and Society in Late Antiquity

As people properly call the norms established by Cyprian for the baptism of heretics a 'reform', its Roman stage has a double importance. The Roman response to the African position, as is well known, was not favourable. Stephen despatched a letter to Cyprian which is known only through its mention by the bishop of Carthage in his Letter 74. People must note that in the only passage quoted by Cyprian, the bishop of Rome is not content simply to present the custom of his Church, but demands that Cyprian conform to it: 'if anyone, coming from whatever heresy, should appear before you, it is proper not to innovate on what has been received, and to impose hands on him in sign of reconciliation'. Stephen failed to impose the Roman practice on all the churches, as Cyprian probably did not impose his beyond Africa.