Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1236
The presbyters and the deacons of Rome write to Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage about the question of the reconciliation of the lapsed, saying that they cannot innovate anything while there is no bishop in Rome, and that the question should in any case be resolved by the council of the clergy, confessors and laymen. Letter 30 in the epistolary of Cyprian, AD 250.
Epistula 30
Cypriano papae presbyteri et diaconi Romae consistentes s[alutem].
I,2. Quod te, frater Cypriane, facere non mirum est, qui pro tua uerecundia et ingenita industria consiliorum tuorum nos non tam iudices uoluisti quam participes inueniri, ut in tuis rebus gestis laudem te cum, dum illas probamus, inueniremus et tuorum consiliorum bonorum coheredes, quia et adfirmatores esse possemus. Idem enim omnes crederemur operati, in quo deprehendimur omnes eadem censurae et disciplinae consensione sociati. [...]
V.2. Quamquam nobis differendae huius rei necessitas maior incumbat, quibus post excessum nobilissimae memoriae uiri fabiani nondum est episcopus propter rerum et temporum difficultates constitutus, qui omnia ista moderetur et eorum qui lapsi sunt possit cum auctoritate et consilio habere rationem.
3. Quamquam nobis in tam ingenti negotio placeat, quod et tu ipse tractasti, prius ecclesiae pacem sustinendam, deinde sic conlatione consiliorum cum episcopis, presbyteris, diaconis, confessoribus, pariter ac stantibus laicis facta lapsorum tractare rationem. Perquam enim nobis et inuidiosum et onerosum uidetur non per multos examinare quod per multos commissum uideatur fuisse et in unum sententiam dicere, cum tam grande crimen per multos diffusum notetur exisse, quoniam nec firmum decretum potest esse quod non plurimorum uidebitur habuisse consensum. [...]
VIII. Cuius temperamenti moderamen nos hic tenere quaerentes diu et quidem multi et quidem cum quibusdam episcopis uicinis nobis et adpropinquantibus et quos ex aliis prouinciis longe positis persecutionis istius ardor eiecerat, ante constitutionem episcopi nihil innouandum putauimus [...].
(ed. Diercks 1994: 138-139. 145-146. 149)
Letter 30
To Papa Cyprian, the presbyters and deacons abiding at Rome, greeting.
I,2. It is no wonder, brother Cyprian, that you should do this, who, with your usual modesty and inborn industry, have wished that we should be found not so much judges of, as sharers in, your counsels, so that we might find praise with you in your doings while we approve them; and might be able to be fellow-heirs with you in your good counsels, because we entirely accord with them. In the same way we are all thought to have laboured in that in which we are all regarded as allied in the same agreement of censure and discipline. [...]
V,2. Although upon us is incumbent a greater necessity of delaying this affair; having, since the departure of Fabian of most noble memory, had no bishop appointed as yet, on account of the difficulties of affairs and times, who can arrange all things of this kind, and who can take account of those who are lapsed, with authority and wisdom.  
3. However, what you also have yourself declared in so important a matter, is satisfactory to us, that the peace of the Church must first be maintained; then, that an assembly for counsel being gathered together, with bishops, presbyters, deacons, and confessors, as well as with the laity who stand fast, we should deal with the case of the lapsed. For it seems extremely invidious and burdensome to examine into what seems to have been committed by many, except by the advice of many; or that one should give a sentence when so great a crime is known to have gone forth, and to be diffused among so many; since that cannot be a firm decree which shall not appear to have had the consent of very many. Look upon almost the whole world devastated, and observe that the remains and the ruins of the fallen are lying about on every side, and consider that therefore an extent of counsel is asked for, large in proportion as the crime appears to be widely propagated. Let not the medicine be less than the wound, let not the remedies be fewer than the deaths, that in the same manner as those who fell, fell for this reason that they were too incautious with a blind rashness, so those who strive to set in order this mischief should use every moderation in counsels, lest anything done as it ought not to be, should, as it were, be judged by all of no effect.
VIII. Desiring to maintain the moderation of this middle course in these matters, we for a long time, and indeed many of us, and, moreover, with some of the bishops who are near to us and within reach, and some whom, placed afar off, the heat of the persecution had driven out from other provinces, have thought that nothing new was to be done before the appointment of a bishop. [...]


The letter is the answer to Letter 27 sent by Cyprian to Rome [1233].
The presbyters and deacons of Rome address Cyprian as "papa", but also as "brother", underlining the basic equality of their sacerdotal dignity.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Rome
  • Carthage
  • Rome

About the source:

Author: Cyprian
Title: Letters, Epistulae, Epistolae
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Cyprian was born probably about 200 AD. He converted to Christianity in about 245 and in 248 was elected Bishop of Carthage. Soon after, the Decian persecution began (in 249/250) and Cyprian went into hiding. In 251 he returned to the city. Under Valerian, he was exiled in 257 and executed in 258. The epistolary of Cyprian consists of 81 letters (16 of them by his correspondents, and 6 synodal or collective), the majority of them are from the period of 250-251, when they were the means of Cyprian`s communication with his clergy. They offer us a wide view on the organization of the Church in Carthage in the middle of the third century, her relation with the Church of Rome, on the development of the persecutions, and on the conflicts that they caused inside the Church.
Different numerations of Cyprian's letters exist, I follow the edition of Diercks in Corpus Christianorum.
G.F. Diercks ed., Sancti Cypriani Episcopi Epistularium. Epistulae 1-57, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 3B, Turnhout 1994.


Writing activity - Correspondence
    Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
      Ecclesiastical administration - Participation in councils and ecclesiastical courts
        Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
          Ecclesiastical administration
            Equal prerogatives of presbyters and bishops
              Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1236,