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A heretical and schismatical sect (311-411) who claimed that the validity of the sacraments depended on the moral character of the minister, and that sinners could not be members of the Church, and could not be tolerated by a true Church unless their sins were secret. The sect came into existence in Africa during the disorders following the persecution under Diocletian (303-305). The leader was Donatus, Bishop of Carthage, in opposition to Majorinus, whom he accused of being invalidly consecrated because his predecessor had been consecrated by a traditor (One who gives up). The claims of the sect were opposed by Pope Miltiades, 313; the Council of Arles, 314; the Emperor Constantine the Great, 316; and by Saint Augustine, 391-411, when a conference was held at Carthage in which the Donatists were confounded. Their churches were seized, and they were exiled. They disappeared from history after the Saracenic invasion of Africa.

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