( Latin for DENOUNCERS)
A term used by the Synod of Elvira (c. 306) to stigmatize those Christians who appeared as accusers of their brethren. This synod decided (can. lxxiii, Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, 2d ed., I, 188) that if any Christian was proscribed or put to death through the denunciation ( delatio ) of another Christian, such a delator was to suffer perpetual excommunication. No distinction is made between true and false accusation, but the synod probably meant only the accusation of Christianity before the heathen judge, or at most a false accusation. Any false accusation against a bishop, priest, or deacon was visited with a similar punishment by the same synod (can. lxxv, op. cit., 189). The punishment for false witness in general was proportioned by can. lxxiv to the gravity of the accusation. The Council of Arles of 314 issued a similar decree (can. xiv, op. cit., p. 213), when it decided that Christians who accused falsely their brethren were to be forever excluded from communion with the faithful. During the persecutions of the early Christians it sometimes happened that apostates denounced their fellow-Christians. The younger Pliny relates in a letter to Trajan ( Apostolic Fathers ed. Lightfoot, 2d ed., I. i, 50 sqq.), that an anonymous bill of indictment was presented to him on which were many names of Christians ; we do not know, however, that the author of this libellus was a Christian. According to can. xiii of the Council of Arles (op. cit., 211 sqq.), during the persecution of Diocletian Christians were denounced by their own brethren to the heathen judges. If it appeared from the public acts that an ecclesiastic had done this, he was punished by the synod with perpetual deposition ; however, his ordinations were considered valid. In general, false accusation is visited with severe punishments in later synods, e.g. Second Council of Arles (443 or 453, can. xxiv), the Council of Agde (506, can. viii) and others. These decrees appear in the later medieval collections of canons. New punitive decrees against calumny were issued by Gregory IX in his Decretals (de calumniatoribus, V, 3 in Corp. Jur. Can). KRÜLL in KRAUS, Real-Encyk. (Freiburg im Br., 1882), I, 361; HINSCHIUS, Kirchenrecht, IV (Berlin, 1888), 699, 770; IV (Berlin, 1893), 20 sqq.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online