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.