"The Cause is Finished": Does the Quote Mean What we Think?

“In a sermon to his flock, Augustine informed them that the pope had ratified the condemnations of the Pelagian heresy pronounced at the councils of Milevi and Carthage. He said “The two councils sent their decrees to the Apostolic See and the decrees quickly came back. The cause is finished; would that the error were as quickly finished (Sermon 131:10).” This has developed over the centuries into the commonly known formula.” ~Catholic Answers

This quote from St. Agustine is a popular apologetics tool. However, now that I read this exact translation, it puzzles me. “The Apostolic See” can refer to any descendant of the original 12, can’t it? Not just a successor of Peter, correct? How do we know he’s referring to the pope, specifically? Does he specify elsewhere in the sermon? Do we know for a fact there is no other bishop he could have been referring to? Were there no other bishops at that time? Thank you. :slight_smile:

The Catholic Encyclopedia article on “Apostolic See” says:
An Apostolic see is any see founded by an Apostle and having the authority of its founder; *the *Apostolic See is the seat of authority in the Roman Church, continuing the Apostolic functions of Peter, the chief of the Apostles. Heresy and barbarian violence swept away all the particular Churches which could lay claim to an Apostolic see, until Rome alone remained; to Rome, therefore, the term applies as a proper name. But before heresy, schism, and barbarian invasions had done their work, as early as the fourth century, the Roman See was already the Apostolic See par excellence, not only in the West but also in the East. Antioch, Alexandria, and, in a lesser degree, Jerusalem were called Apostolic sees by reason of their first occupants, Peter, Mark, and James, from whom they derived their patriarchal honour and jurisdiction; but Rome is *the *Apostolic See, because its occupant perpetuates the Apostolate of Blessed Peter extending over the whole Church.

Thank you so much!

Another thing that puzzles me is I can’t find the sermon where he said this anywhere in Agustine’s 131st sermon. It’s archived by EWTN and it simply doesn’t contain that quote.

I thought maybe that’s because his sermons are sometimes numbered differently. But no matter what I search for I can only find articles referencing that quote, not the source of the quote. We lean on that quote pretty heavily, it would be nice to read it in full context. Why is it so unavailable? Does anyone know where I can read the sermon containing the, “the cause is finished” quote?

If you want to read the sermon in Latin, it’s at Augustinus.it. Just go here and click over on the side index to “131” under Sermones.

To find the text elsewhere, search for its opening words:

“Audivimus veracem Magistrum, divinum Redemptorem, humanum Salvatorem, commendantem nobis pretium nostrum, sanguinem suum.”

(“We have heard the truthful Teacher, the divine Redeemer, the human Savior, pointing out our price to us – His Blood.”)

I agree that this homily doesn’t seem to be available in English, or at least in full, anywhere easy to find. If I have time, I’ll run something up.

At Newadvent the sermon is translated as Sermon 81. source

You may notice that at the top of that link it says “CXXXI. Ben.” That means it is sermon 131 in other editions.

The relevant paragraph contains: “Convince the gainsayers, and those who resist, bring to us. For already have two councils on this question been sent to the Apostolic see; and rescripts also have come from thence. The question has been brought to an issue; would that their error may sometime be brought to an issue too!” source

Wonderful, thank you ever so much. It was lovely reading, I feel I understand the context better now.

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