Under the empire why did the church anathemize escaped slaves?

So imagine this, youre a slave in Rome in the fourth century. You have a vicious cruel master. He killed some of your fellow slaves in the past and he beats you mercilessly. So one day you decide youve had enough and manage to escape. Shortly after you revieve a letter of anathema from the church telling you that " its God’s will that you go back to your master".
I just don’t understand how the church can declare that holding hands with your girlfriend is a sin ( according to thomas Aquinas it is). Yet slavery which is the robbing of a mans Labour and a severe violation of his human dignity was even supported by the very same church.

I find it funny how the church declared socialism to be “against human dignity” yet condoned and even participated in slavery for eighteen hundred years. You cant make this stuff up! I just cant wrap my mind around that. I would like some feedback. Is this really true? If so what possible justification is there for these blunders of the church?

Yeah, it does make you wonder, especially if this is truly how God feels about this topic. I watched 12 years a slave not too long ago, I saw that many slaves back then really relied on their faith in God to make it thru, I could not imagine the crushing feeling if they found out that God actually sided with the slave masters over them!

But I think this goes to ‘Gods ways are not our ways’ statement, we consider slavery to be a bad thing, in any form, but to God, maybe it is not.

I mean, to this day, slavery is alive and well, and probably happening in most well to do suburban neighborhoods all over the US, its strange to think that in 2015, we really have not come that far from the 1800s.

Yeah. I dont think God feels that way about slavery I just think this is an example of humans acting in God’s name. Though it does make me trust the church less. It makes me more averse to organized religion. Im sorry I don’t mean to always post about tough topics like this but I cant keep these thoughts to myself. Basically back then according to Catholic teaching a guy could purchase a human being and take communion the same day while a guy who had a little too much wine with dinner couldnt take eucharist.

Apparently, you can.

Sources please.

Theres also a few articles out there. I know islam and even hinduism supported slavery. Which is why im gravitating away from religion.

Wikipedia, the downfall of all things intellectual.

That is NOT an accurate source for much beyond Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

Wikipedia is a reliable source. So far ive found it to be truthful in most things I read on it. Besides it cites it’s sources. Also its common knowledge that the church practiced slavery. Just read thomas Aquinas on slavery who says it is not intrinsically evil. Yet hugging your girlfriend is a mortal sin according to him. Augustine also said that slavery was ok. He shared the notion that is common to many religious people that any authority is ordained by God so anything that authority says and does is God’s will. Thats why kings could get away with adultery and even murder yet the common people could not.

There are many many sinful Catholics. They exist today and have existed in the past. Your hypothetical slave owner would have been one of them, as would a priest who molested a child, or a Catholic ruler who committed horrific crimes, or even a Pope or two who did horrible things. That does not change the Deposit of Faith instituted By Jesus Christ. You mention that you are gravitating away from religion. There are a couple problems with that.

  1. Your objections lacks intellectual or logical thinking. And lacks important facts and Truths.

  2. Gravitate to what then? The Catholic Church teaches all that is true and good. The Church is against slavery. To what would you gravitate to that has morality and Truth?

  3. Also keep in mind that slavery in 19th century America is different that the economic systems of the past.

You really should learn more and learn more in depth before leveling these accusations that can affect your relationship or lack thereof with Your Creator.

How would a fugitive slave receive a “letter of anathema?” Is there such a thing?

And I doubt very much that slavery, although it exists to this day, is anything commonplace. It has mostly been banished to the sexual industry, and probably wholly to the hidden undergrounds. Whereas in the classical past, entire economies required it, so I’m not surprised the Church didn’t do much to fight it.


I want to believe you. I realize that the church has human beings running it and human beings are wounded with sin. But if God is supposedly always with the church then how could two Catholic countries decide to go to war with eachother? It has happened in the past. Many times with the blessing of clergy!
I still consider myself a christian. I am really trying to study the bible and the early church fathers and desert fathers and what Jesus said. But I cant assent to the Catholic church anymore. ( at least for now) I believe that maybe it is just a man made organization who uses God for their own advancement. Its the typical “only I can hear God and only I know what he wants”. A lot of things just dont make sense to me. I am really liking early Christianity though. I think christianity was corrupted the minute it unified with state. Medieval spirituality I think went through the most degeneration.

The statement’s footnote refers to a book: Luis M. Bermejo, S.J., Infallibility on Trial.
Without reading the excerpt from that book, how can we really respond? When did this happen? Why did they do it? Who were the slaves? What was the context?

And let’s assume it’s 100% your worst fear. Why would you then gravitate away from the Church if it or some other religion anathematized slaves centuries ago? What religion are you going to gravitate to? Because no matter what you choose, you’ll have religious doctrines, even if you go agnostic or atheist.

How is that reliable?

Most of you respondents to this topic are making a serious mistake in that you are judging historical events my modern social standards.
In judging historic social conditions, one must consider them only by the standards in effect at that time.
We recognize today that slavery was a serious wrong. That is because Western society has progressed from the time that slavery existed.
Slavery was not considered wrong by the majority of people in the Northern States of the US, until just before the America Civil War.
The idea that slaves were routinely maltreated is false. In 1860 the average price of a healthy male slave was over $1,000,00—and at the same time a skilled artisan, like a cabinet maker earned about $5.00 for a 70 hour work week.

In those days in Israel many referred to as slaves were what we would now called indentured workers. Hey weren’t bought and sold, they were contracted to serve as menial workers and servants. They weren’t imprisoned or chained up. It was at the time how workers were employed. In the same way that migrant workers come north and work in the fields in the USA and Canada. It was how the economic system, as crude as it was worked. In those days not being employed was serious as there were no social assistance programs, no unions and the unemployed were reduced to begging and liable to starve to death. If the master (employer) was exceedingly cruel or the work to hard the “slave” could run away. St. Paul in telling the “slave” to go back to his master “employer” he was telling him to honor the commitment he had made and to try to patch things up with his boss. The Church in no way ever condoned the type of slavery we saw in the south in past centuries. The Church encouraged employers to be good and fair employers and workers to be good workers and to do fair work as they had agreed. To try to suggest that the Church ever condoned the cruel captive slavery that was and is unfortunately seen in some parts of the world is just anti-Catholic dribble. That someone would use their mis-interpretation of scripture as an excuse to avoid or bash Christianity is for a lack of a better word bupkiss!.

Lol. Wikipedia? Seriously?

If I used Wikipedia as a source in an academic paper I would Fail. It is simply not a credible, independent or academic source. Why?

The entries can be written by anyone, literally anyone, whether they are qualified or not.

What I don’t hear a lot of from you is things like the Eucharist, or Sacraments, or a path to Salvation. These things exist in the Catholic Church. If you are looking for a political ideology, then you should look elsewhere. But if you are looking for the saving Works and Words of Jesus, you should listen to your Mother. (the Church)

Since you profess to like the Bible, I suggest you re read John Chapter Six. Not only for the Eucharist aspect of it, but for the idea that Christ taught some things that people did not understand, and those people left. And Jesus did not say he was joking or tell them not to leave, they left, because they did not learn the Truth and were disgusted by what they thought was being taught. Perhaps you should think about that, preferably in front of Jesus in The Eucharist at Adoration.

This is not true anymore. While Wiki has problems it is being used and accepted as a source at academic levels. And no, the articles cannot be written by just anyone. And there is a process to challenge things in it.

That being said, it has a bias. Sometimes that bias is on your side and sometimes it is not. But honestly any form of media these days now have bias. The problem and solution is that we need to do a better job of teaching people how to identify and critically think about biases. The OP is an example of that.

Perhaps not the most convenient time to point this out, but Wikipedia is fast becoming a very very serious source. Accurate or not. I encourage all who find bias or untruth in the articles to use the Channels provided to correct them.

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