Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 159
The Council of Carthage (North Africa, AD 390) threatens with excommunication bishops and clerics who accept to communion people excommunicated by other bishops.
Canon 7
Vt qui excommunicatum alterius susceperit excommunicetur.
Felix episcopus Selemselitanus dixit: illud autem suggero uestrae sanctitati ut hi qui pro facinoribus suis de ecclesia pelluntur et ausi fuerint aut ad comitatum pergere aut ad iudicia publica prosilire, aut si forsitam ecclesiae catholicae limina attentare, episcopus uel clericus cuiuslibet plebis [eos sine consensu susceperit]; de his quid censetis?
Epigonius episcopus Bullensium regionum dixit: si quis episcopus communionem tenens catholicam huiusmodi hominem uanis blandimentis incederit, sciat cum iisdem reiectis se esse deprauatum, transiens in sortem eorum.
Geneclius episcopus dixit: ergo recte suggerunt fratres et coepiscopi nostri ut qui facinorum merito suorum ab ecclesia pulsi sunt, et ab aliquo episcopo uel clerico fuerint communione suscepti, etiam ipse pari cum eisdem crimine teneatur obnoxius.
Ab uniuersis episcopis dictum est: omnibus placet.   
(ed. Munier 1974: 15)
Canon 7
Who accepts someone excommunicated by others, should be excommunicated himself.
Felix, bishop of Selemsela, said: I also suggest to your sanctities that those who are expelled from the church because of their wrongdoings and would dare either to go to the imperial court, or to rush to civil courts, or if they may approach another Catholic church and a bishop or a cleric accepted them without the consent [of their bishop], what should be done about them?
Epigonius, bishop of Bulla [Regia], said: If a bishop of the Catholic communion encouraged such a man with false favours, he should know that he is as depraved as those rejected by the church, and that he shares their fate.
Bishop Geneclius said: our brothers and fellow bishops rightly suggest that if someone was expelled from the church because of his wrongdoings and was accepted into communion by any bishop or cleric, these latter will be held responsible for the same crime as was committed by the former.
And all bishops said: we all agree.
(trans. S. Adamiak)


The canon illustrates one of the most important rules of ecclesiastical discipline and organisation, namely that people excommunicated in their own church should not be admitted to communion in another without the consent of their own bishop. The canon interests us, however, because it shows not only that such practice was popular, but also that such re-admission to communion could be administered not only by bishops, but also by other clerics, most probably presbyters.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Carthage

About the source:

Title: Council of Carthage 390, Concilium Carthaginense a. 390, Concilium Carthaginis Africae secundum
Origin: Carthage (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The plenary council of Catholic bishops of Africa gathered in Carthage in AD 390. It was chaired by the bishop of Carthage, Geneclius, but his archdeacon and successor, Aurelius, was also present. It was the first of a long series of African councils of the late 4th and early 5th centuries.
Ch. Munier ed., Concilia Africae a. 345-a. 525, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 149, Turnhoult 1974.


Described by a title - Clericus
    Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
      Public law - Ecclesiastical
        Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
          Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
              Ecclesiastical administration
                Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER159,