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Fathers of the Church

Letter CCLXX: Without Address. Concerning Raptus

Description

Basil chastises the addressee for not dealing with a case of rape and/or abduction as that sin deserves. He instructs that the girl be restored to her parents and the man be excommunicated.

Provenance

St. Basil's correspondence is a copious and invaluable store of information for the history of the Eastern Church in the fourth century, particularly in Cappadocia. Since he never found a real biographer, his letters represent the best source for his life and times, for his many activities and far-reaching influence, especially for his personality and his character. (Quasten)

by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A

I AM distressed to find that you are by no means indignant at the sins forbidden, and that you seem incapable of understanding, how this raptus, which has been committed, is an act of unlawfulness and tyranny against society and human nature, and an outrage on free men. I am sure that if you had all been of one mind in this matter, there would have been nothing to prevent this bad custom from being long ago driven out of your country. Do thou at the present time shew the zeal of a Christian man, and be moved as the wrong deserves. Wherever you find the girl, insist on taking her away, and restore her to her parents, shut out the man from the prayers, and make him excommunicate. His accomplices, according to the canon which I have already put forth, cut off, with all their household, from the prayers. The village which received the girl after the abduction, and kept her, or even fought against her restitution, shut out with all its inhabitants from the prayers; to the end that all may know that we regard the ravisher as a common foe, like a snake or any other wild beast, and so hunt him out, and help those whom he has wronged.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (PNPF II/VIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.