About This File
Synopsis: After Coelestius appeared before Pope Zosimus for examination and was vindicated and after reading the letter and confession of faith that Pelagius had sent him Zosimus sent letters to the North African bishops declaring Coelestius and Pelagius to be orthodox, criticizing the African bishops conduct, and representing Heros and Lazarus (the two deposed bishops who had brought charges up against Pelagius for his Diospolis (Lydda) trial) as being wicked men, whom he had punished with excommunication and deposition. In response to these letters the African bishops assembled sometime around the end of 417 or beginning of 418 and in a Synodal letter to Zosimus declared “that he should hold to the sentence pronounced by Pope Innocent against Pelagius and Coelestius until both of them distinctly acknowledged that for every single good action we need the help of the grace of God through Jesus Christ; and this not only to perceive what is right, but also to practise it, so that without it we can neither possess, think, speak, or do anything really good and holy.” Zosimus responded by affirming that he had already given the affair of the Pelagians his mature consideration, but added that he had transmitted all the documents to the Africans for the purpose of common consultation. This letter reached the hands of the Africans towards the end of April 418, and on the 1st of May they opened a new great or General Synod in the Secretarium of the Basilica of Faustus at Carthage. Bishops were present not only from all the provinces of Africa, but even from Spain, in all no less than two hundred. They composed eight or nine canons against Pelagianism, and eleven others, partly directed against the Donatists and partly concerning general matters.