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64 Jurist 39 (2004)
Universal Love and Local Structure: Augustine, the Papacy, and the Church in Africa

handle is hein.journals/juristcu64 and id is 43 raw text is: THE JURIST 64 (2004) 39-63

Let each one ask his own heart: if one loves one's brother and sister, the
Spirit of God remains in him. Let him see, let him examine himself before
the eyes of God; let him see if there is within him a love for peace and unity,
a love for the Church spread over the whole world. Let him not aim simply
at loving the brother or sister whom he sees before his eyes; for there are
many brothers and sisters of ours whom we do not see, and we are joined
with them in the unity of the Spirit. And is there anything remarkable in
their not being here with us? We are in one body, we have one head in heav-
en. Brothers and sisters, our eyes do not see each other-in a sense, they do
not know each other. But do they not know each other in the love which is
the body's own structure?
-Augustine, Homilies on the First Letter of John, 6.10
One of the most remarkable things, for us today at least, about the
Church in which St. Augustine lived and worked is that we know so
much about it. When one considers the acts and canons of the synods of
the African Church that met almost annually during Augustine's years as
priest and bishop, from the general council of Hippo in 393 to that of
427-the last general council of Africa before the Vandal invasion; when
one regards, along with them, the reflections of his contemporaries on ec-
clesial questions, and the Roman curial correspondence dealing with
Africa, and then adds the massive bulk of Augustine's own letters, ser-
mons and treatises concerning ecclesiological issues (especially his
polemical works against the Donatists), one realizes that there is mater-
ial at hand for an unusually detailed portrait of how one important branch
of the Church lived, functioned, and understood itself as an institution,
during that last great flowering season of Christian culture in Roman
Some of the issues discussed in these ancient documents are major
doctrinal questions, like the dispute of the African bishops with Pelagius
and his followers over the origins of human holiness. Other more pas-
toral issues sound surprisingly (perhaps depressingly) fresh to us:
* Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame, IN.

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