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Pope Stephen

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Estimated Range of Dating: 254-257 A.D.

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Information on Pope Stephen

S. C. Kessler writes, "Stephen became bishop of Rome (May 12 or 28, 254) between two waves of persecution. His externally peaceful pontificate was shaken by an intrachurch conflict over the validity of baptisms administered by heretics. In the contoversy with his main opponent, Cyprian of Carthage, Stephen played a decisive role in the development of the papacy. His correspondence from the period of the heretical baptism controversy has come down only in fragmentary and indirect form in the collection of Cyprian's letters (ep. 74; 75). Against Cyprian Stephen took the Roman view, which excludes any rebaptism, 'since nothing new is to be introduced that has not been handed down' (ep. 74.1). The result was a break that was healed only after Stephen's death (Aug. 2, 257). Other writings are forgeries." (Dictionary of Early Christian Literature, p. 546)

J. Quasten writes, "Thus it had been an ecclesiastical custom from the beginning to receive heretics back into the Church without a new baptism. The principle cited by Stephen is important for the history of the doctrine in the Church of Rome. Novatian seems also to have it in mind, when he states in the epistle addressed to Cyprian in the name of the roman presbytery: Nihil innovandum putavinus" (Patrology, vol. 2, p. 239).

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Kirby, Peter. "Pope Stephen." Early Christian Writings. <>.