Auctoritas vs Potestas – Council of Hippo 393

Canon 5:

Ut propter causas ecclesiasticas, quae ad perniciem plebium saepe ueterescunt, singulis quibusque annis concilium conuocetur, ad quod omnes prouinciae quae primas sedes habent de conciliis suis ternos legatos mittant, ut minus inuidiosi minusque hospitibus sumptuosi conuentus plena possit auctorias esse. De Tripolo uero propter inopiam episcoporum, unus episcopus ueniat.

This canon states that the general council of Africa, commonly called “Plenary” councils, are empowered to decide cases by virtue of its ‘full authority’ (plena auctoritas). For those who wish to say that auctoritas has a purely moral authority while potestas, in contrast, carried binding authority , will have to permit themselves to be corrected by this canon. For who is going to say that the African councils said they would resolve their cases by less-than-binding decrees?

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