SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XLII. TERTULLIAN, De Pudicit. 1.

The Roman Bishop's Edict

Audio etiam edictum esse propositum, et quidem peremptorium. Pontifex scilicet Maximus, episcopus episcoporum edicit: Ego et moechiae et fornicationis delicta poenitentia functis dimitto. O edictum, cui adscribi non poterit: Bonum factum! Et ubi proponetur liberalitas ista? Ibidem, opinor, in ipsis libidinum ianuis, sub ipsis libidinum titulis. Illic eiusmodi poenitentia promulganda est, ubi delinquentia ipsa versabitur. Illic legenda est venia, quo cum spe eius intrabitur. Sed hoc in ecclesia legitur, et in ecclesia pronuntiatur, et virgo est.

I hear also that an edict has been issued, and that a decisive one. The sovereign Pontiff forsooth, the bishop of bishops puts forth his edict. 'I,' says he, 'to them that have done penitence remit the sins of both adultery and fornication.' What an edict it is, to which we cannot add Well done! And where shall that gracious message be posted up? On the very spot, I suppose – on the very door-posts of lust, beneath the advertisements themselves of lust. There ought penitence of that sort to be published, where the offence itself shall dwell. There ought the pardon to be read, where men enter in the hope of it. But this – in the Church it is read, and in the Church pronounced, and – she is a virgin!

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