Paul's Epistle to Philemon was an important text for both pro-slavery advocates and abolitionists.  This short letter, reputedly written to be delivered by the hand of Onesimus , a fugitive slave, whom Paul is sending back to his master Philemon. Paul entreats Philemon to regard Onesimus as a beloved brother in Christ.  Cardinal Dulles points out that, "while discreetly suggesting that he manumit Onesimus, [Paul] does not say that Philemon is morally obliged to free Onesimus and any other slaves he may have had."  He does, however, encourage Philemon to welcome Onesimus "not as a slave, but as more than a slave, as a beloved brother".  (According to tradition, Philemon did free Onesimus, and both were eventually recognized as saints by the Church.) Seldom noted in the debate was the situation of Onesimus if he had not returned: an outlaw and a fugitive with limited options to support himself, and in constant fear of discovery and punishment. Be that as it may, as T. David Curp observes, "Given that the Church received Philemon as inspired Scripture, Paul's ambiguity effectively blocked the early Fathers of the Church from denouncing slavery outright."