Author Topic: St. Augustine of Hippo & Canon Law  (Read 3584 times)

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Offline JamesR

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St. Augustine of Hippo & Canon Law
« on: July 21, 2013, 01:16:38 AM »
I was wondering something that just occurred to me.

Why was St. Augustine's relationship with his concubine viewed as being so sinful by the Church? His mother St. Monica was afraid because she thought that he was living in sin, and St. Augustine himself condemns the action in his Confessions.

Yet, technically, he was not doing anything wrong.

The 17th Canon of the Council of Toledo held in AD 400 stated that if a man had no wife, he could keep one concubine and still receive the Eucharist without being guilty of sin. The only thing it condemned was sleeping with more than one woman. AFAIK, St. Augustine wasn't married and he only had one concubine at the time, so Canonically speaking, he didn't do anything wrong.

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: St. Augustine of Hippo & Canon Law
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2013, 01:23:38 AM »
I wouldn't guess that the First Council of Toledo had binding authority in the localities in which St. Augustine might have found himself.   Though it is an interesting canon, and I'd love to hear someone give some more background on it...

Offline Alpo

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Re: St. Augustine of Hippo & Canon Law
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2013, 05:24:31 AM »
What's the difference between concubinage and civil marriage and/or mixed marriage?
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Re: St. Augustine of Hippo & Canon Law
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2013, 03:05:55 PM »
Why was St. Augustine's relationship with his concubine viewed as being so sinful by the Church? His mother St. Monica was afraid because she thought that he was living in sin, and St. Augustine himself condemns the action in his Confessions.

Yet, technically, he was not doing anything wrong.

The 17th Canon of the Council of Toledo held in AD 400 stated...

I can't speak for the Council of Toledo or its canons and their underlying reasons.  But even if something was "legal", it can still be less than the ideal.  That's the whole point of Matthew 19.3-12.  Was St Augustine "justified" by that canon?  Perhaps.  But if his mother, he himself subsequent to conversion, and the Church as a whole regarded it as "sinful" anyway, this may have something to do with it. 

And even if Toledo 17 means what you say it means, it doesn't constitute an endorsement of the practice, only a toleration.  The Church allows a second marriage (even has a separate rite for it), but that's not an endorsement of second marriages, as even the service itself would attest.   

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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: St. Augustine of Hippo & Canon Law
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2013, 11:32:24 PM »
His Manicheanism was a much bigger issue.
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Offline Romaios

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Re: St. Augustine of Hippo & Canon Law
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2013, 11:57:49 PM »
Quote
Permanent concubinage, though it lacked the ordinary legal forms and was not recognized by the civil law as a legal marriage, had in it no element of immorality. It was a real marriage, including the intention and consent of both parties to form a lifelong union. This the Church allowed from the beginning, while Pope Callistus I broke through the barrier of state law, and raised to the dignity of Christian marriage permanent unions between slave and free, and even those between slave and slave (contubernium).

The Council of Toledo, held in 400, in its seventeenth canon legislates as follows for laymen (for ecclesiastical regulations on this head with regard to clerics see CELIBACY): after pronouncing sentence of excommunication against any who in addition to a wife keep a concubine, it says: "But if a man has no wife, but a concubine instead of a wife, let him not be refused communion; only let him be content to be united with one woman, whether wife or concubine" (Can. "Is qui", dist. xxxiv; Mansi, III, col. 1001). The refractory are to be excommunicated until such time as they shall obey and do penance.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04207a.htm

St. Augustine would not have married his concubine because of class disparity. In such instances, concubinage was the rule in those times and the Church did not oppose it, as long as it was monogamous.

Especially in the West, marriage was considered less like a grace that the Church dispensed sacramentally and more like a contract between man and wife, which the Church merely acknowledged before God. There was no crowning ceremony as in the East (where it developed around this time) - IIRC the clergy became involved only very late as a witness and weddings were not even celebrated in church.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 12:13:29 AM by Romaios »

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Re: St. Augustine of Hippo & Canon Law
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2013, 06:31:48 AM »
Interesting!

So in some instances, there were concubinages that can be comparable to extra-ecclesiastical monogamous relationships today?
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