Leo the Great: letters 1011
(Confirming Leo’s sentence upon Hilary).
Leo, bishop of the city of Rome, to all the bishops of Mauritania Caesariensis in Africa greeting the Lord.
I. The Disorderly Appointments of Bishops Which Have Been Made in the Province are Reprehensible.
Inasmuch as the frequent accounts of those who visited us made mention of certain unlawful practices among you with regard to the ordination of priests, the demands of religion required that we should strive to arrive at the exact state of the case in accordance with that solicitude which by the Divine command we bestow on the whole Church: and so we delegated the charge of this to our brother and fellow-priest, Potentius. who was setting out from us: and who, according to what we wrote and addressed to you by him, was to make inquiry as to the facts about the bishops whose election was said to be faulty, and to report everything faithfully to us. Wherefore, because the same Potentius has most fully disclosed all to our knowledge, and has by his truthful account made clear to us, under what and what manner of governors some of Christ’s congregations are placed in certain parts of the province of (Mauritania) Caesariensis, we have found it necessary to open out the grief wherewith our hearts are vexed for the dangers of the Lord’s flocks, by sending this letter also to you beloved: for we are surprised that either the over-bearing conduct of intriguers or the rioting of the people had so much weight with you in a time of disorder, that the chief pastorate and governance of the Church was handed over to the unworthiest persons, and such as were farthest removed from the priestly standard. This is not to consult but harm the peoples’ interests: and not to enforce discipline but to increase differences. For the integrity of the rulers is the safeguard of those who are under them: and where there is complete obedience, there the form of doctrine is sound. But an appointment which has either been made by sedition or seized by intrigue, even though it offend not in morals or in practice, is nevertheless pernicious from the mere example of its beginning: and it is hard for things to be carried to a good issue which were started with a bad beginning.
II. In No Case Ought Bishops to Be Ordained Hastily.
But if in every grade of the Church great forethought and knowledge has to be employed, lest there be any thing disorderly or out of place1 in the house of the Lord: how much more carefully must we strive to prevent mistakes in the election of him who is set over all the grades? For the peace and order of the Lord’s whole household will be shaken, if what is required in the body be not found in the head. Where is that precept of the blessed Apostle Paul uttered through the Spirit of God, whereby in the person of Timothy the whole number of Christ’s priests are instructed, and to each one of us is said: “Lay hands hastily on no one, and do not share in other men’s sins2 ?” What is to lay on hands hastily but to confer the priestly dignity on unproved men before the proper age3 , before there has been time to test them, before they have deserved it by their obedience, before they have been tried by discipline? And what is to share in other men’s sins but for the ordainer to become such as is he who ought not to have been ordained by him? For just as a man stores up for himself the fruit of his good work, if he maintains a right judgment in choosing a priest: so one who receives an unworthy priest into the number of his colleagues, inflicts grievous loss upon himself. We must not then pass over in the case of any one that which is laid down in the general ordinances: nor is that advancement to be reckoned lawful which has been made contrary to the precepts of God’s law.
III. The Apostolic Precept About the Marriage of the Clergy Based Upon the Marriage of Christ with the Church of Which It is a Figure.
For as the Apostle says that among other rules for election he shall be ordained bishop who is known to have been or to be “the husband of one wife,” this command was always held so sacred that the same condition was understood as necessary to be observed even in the wife4 of the priest-elect: lest she should happen to have been married to another man before she entered into wedlock with him, even though he himself had had no other wife. Who then would dare to allow this injury to be perpetrated upon so great a sacrament5 , seeing that this great and venerable mystery is not without the support of the statutes of God’s law as well, whereby it is clearly laid down that a priest is to marry a virgin, and that she who is to be the wife of a priest6 is not to know another husband? For even then in the priests was prefigured the Spiritual marriage of Christ and His Church: so that since “the man is the head of the woman7 ,” the spouse of the Word may learn to know no other man but Christ, who did rightly choose her only, loves her only, and takes none but her into His alliance. If then even in the Old Testament this kind of marriage among priests is adhered to, how much more ought we who are placed under the grace of the Gospel to conform to the Apostle’s precepts: so that though a man be found endowed with good character, and furnished with holy works, he may nevertheless in no wise ascend either to the grade of deacon, or the dignity of the presbytery, or to the highest rank of the bishopric, if it has been spread abroad either that he himself is not the husband of one wife, or that his wife is not the wife of one husband.
IV. Premature Promotions are to Be Avoided.
But when the Apostle warns and says: “and let these also first be proved, and so let them minister8 ,” what else do we think must be understood but that in these promotions we should consider not only the chastity of their marriages, but also the deserts of their labours, lest the pastoral office be entrusted to men who are either fresh from baptism, or suddenly diverted from worldly pursuits? for through all the ranks of the Christian army in the matter of promotions it ought to be considered whether a man can manage a greater charge. Rightly did the venerable opinions of the blessed Fathers in speaking of the election of priests reckon those men fit for the administration of sacred things who had been slowly advanced through the various grades of office, and had given such good proof of themselves therein that in each one of them the character of their practices bore witness to their lives9 . For if it is improper to attain to the world’s dignities without the help of time and without the merit of having toiled, and if the seeking of office is branded unless it be supported by proofs of uprightness, how diligently and how carefully ought the dispensing of divine duties and heavenly dignities to be carried out, lest in aught the apostolic and canonical decrees be violated, and the ruling of the Lord’s Church be committed to men who being ignorant of the lawful constitutions anti devoid of all humility wish not to rise from the lowest grade, but to begin with the highest: for it is extremely unfair and preposterous that the inexpert should be preferred to the expert, the young to the old, the raw recruits to those who have seen much service. In a great house, indeed, as the Apostle explains10 , there must needs be divers vessels, some of gold and of silver, and some of wood and of earth: but their purpose varies with the quality of their material, and the use of the precious and of the cheap kinds is not the same. For everything will be in disorder if the earthen ware be preferred to the golden, or the wooden to the silver. And as the wooden or earthen vessels are a figure of those men who are hitherto conspicuous for no virtues; so in the golden or silver vessels they no doubt are represented who, having passed through the fire of long experience, and through the furnace of protracted toil have deserved to be tried gold and pure silver. And if such men get no reward for their devotion, all the discipline of the Church is loosened, all order is disturbed, while men who have undergone no service obtain undeserved preferment by the wrongful choice of the electing body.
V. He Distinguishes Between Laymen Who Have Been Raised to the Bishoprics and Digamous Clerks, Forgiving the Former and Not the Latter.
Since then either the eager wishes of the people or the intrigues of the ambitious have had so much weight among you that we understand not only laymen, but even husbands of second wives or widows have been promoted to the pastoral office, are there not the clearest reasons for requiring that the churches in which such things have been done should be cleansed by a severer judgment than usual, and that not only the rulers themselves, but also those who ordained them should receive condign punishment? But there stand on our one hand the gentleness of mercy, on our other the strictness of justice. And because “all the paths of the Lord are loving-kindness and truth11 ,” we are forced according to our loyalty to the Apostolic See so to moderate our opinion as to weigh men’s misdeeds in the balance (for of course they are not all of one measure), and to reckon some as to a certain extent12 pardonable, but others as altogether to be repressed. For they who have either entered into second marriages or joined themselves in wedlock with widows are not allowed to hold the priesthood, either by the apostolic or legal authority: and much more is this the case with him who, as it was reported to us, is the husband of two wives at once, or him who being divorced by his wife is said to have married another, that is, supposing these charges are in your judgment proved. But the rest, whose preferment only so far incurs blame that they have been chosen to the episcopal function from among the laity, and are not culpable in the matter of their wives, we allow to retain the priesthood upon which they have entered, without prejudice to the statutes of the Apostolic See, and without breaking the rules of the blessed Fathers, whose wholesome ordinance it is that no layman, whatever amount of support he may receive, shall ascend to the first, second, or third rank in the Church until he reach that position by the legitimate steps13 . For what we now suffer to be to a certain extent14 venial, cannot hereafter pass unpunished, if any one perpetrates what we altogether forbid: because the forgiveness of a sin does not grant a licence to do wrong, nor will it be right to repeat an offence with impunity which has partly15 been condoned.
VI. Donatus, a Converted Novatian, and Maximus, an Ex-Donatist, are Retained in Their Episcopal Office.
Donatus of Salacia, who, as we learn, has been converted from the Novatians16 with his people, we wish to preside over the Lord’s flock, on condition that he remembers he must send a certificate of his faith to us, in which he not only condemns the error of the Novatian dogma, but also unreservedly confesses the catholic truth. Maximus, also, although he was culpably ordained when a layman, yet if he is now no longer a Donatist, and has abjured the spirit of schismatic depravity, we do not depose from his episcopal dignity, which he has obtained irregularly, on condition that he declare himself a catholic by drawing Up a certificate for us.
VII. The Case of Aggarus and Tyberianus (Ordained with Tumult) is Referred to the Bishops.
But concerning Aggarus and Tyberianus, whose case is different from the others who were ordained from among the laity, in this that their ordination is reported to have been accompanied by fierce riots and savage disturbances, we have entrusted the whole matter to your judgment, treat relying upon your investigation of the case, we may know what to decide about them.
VIII. Maidens Who Have Suffered Violence are Not to Compare Themselves with Others.
Those handmaids of God who have lost their chastity by the violence of barbarians, will be more praiseworthy in their humility and shame-fastness, if they do not venture to compare themselves to undefiled virgins. For although every sin springs from the desire, and the will may have remained unconquered and unpolluted by the fall of the flesh still this will be less to their detriment, if they grieve over losing even in the body what they did not lose in spirit.
IX. These Injunctions to Be Carried Out Without Contentiousness.
And so now that you see yourselves, beloved, fully instructed through David, our brother and fellow-bishop, who is approved to us both by his personal character and his priestly worth, on[nearly]17 all the points which our brother Potentius’ account contained, it remains, brothers, that you receive our healthful exhortations harmoniously, and that doing nothing in rivalry, but acting unanimously with entire devotion and zeal, you obey the constitution of God and His Apostles, and in nothing suffer the well-considered decrees of the canons to be violated. For what we from the consideration of certain reasons have now relaxed must henceforward be guarded by the ancient rules, lest, what we have on this occasion with merciful lenity conceded, we may hereafter have to visit with condign punishment18 , acting with special and direct vigour against those who in ordaining bishops have neglected the statutes of the holy fathers, and have consecrated men whom they ought to have rejected. Wherefore if any bishops have consecrated such an one priest as ought not to be, even though in some measure they have escaped any loss of their personal dignity, yet they shall have no further right of ordination, nor shall ever be present at that sacrament which, neglecting the judgment of God, they have improperly conferred.
X. The Appointment of Bishops Over Too Small Places is Inexpedient and Must Be Discontinued.
That of course which pertains to the priestly dignity we wish to be observed in common with all the statutes of the canons, viz., that bishops be not consecrated in any place nor in any hamlet19 , nor where they have not been consecrated before; for where the flocks are small and the congregations small, the care of the presbyters may suffice, whereas the episcopal authority ought to preside onlyover larger flocks and more crowded cities, lest contrary to the divinely-inspired decrees of the holy Fathers the priestly office be assigned over villages and rural estates20 or obscure and thinly-populated townships, and the position of honour, to which only the more important charges should be given, be held cheap from the very number of these that hold it. And this bishop Restitutus has reported to have been done in his own diocese, and he has with good reason requested that when the bishops of those places where they ought not to have been ordained die in the natural course, the places themselves should revert to the jurisdiction of the same prelate to whom they formerly belonged and were attached. It is indeed useless for the priestly dignity to be diminished by the superfluous multiplications of the office through the inconsiderate complaisance of the ordainer.
XI. Virgins Violated Against Their Will are to Be Treated as Somewhat Different to the Others, But Not to Be Denied Communion.
Now concerning those who, having made a holy vow of virginity[as we said above, chap. viii.], have suffered the violence of barbarians, and have lost their spotless purity not in spirit but in body, we consider such mode- ration ought to be observed that they should be neither degraded to the rank of widows21 nor yet reckoned in the number of holy and undefiled virgins: yet, if they persevere in the virgin life, and in heart and mind guard the reality of chastity, participation in the sacraments is not to be denied them, because it is unfair that they should be accused or branded for what their wishes did not surrender, but was stolen by the violence of foes.
XII. The Care of Lupicinus is in Part Dealt with and in Part Referred to Them.
The case also of bishop Lupicinus22 we order to be heard there, but at his urgent and frequent entreaties we have restored him to communion for this reason, that, as he bad appealed to our judgment, we saw that while the matter was pending he had been undeservedly suspended from communion. Moreover there is this also in addition, that it was clearly rash to ordain one over his head who ought not to have been ordained until Lupicinus, having been placed before you or convicted, or having at least confessed, had opportunity to submit to a just sentence, so that, according to the requirements of ecclesiastical discipline, he who was consecrated might receive his vacant place.
XIII. All Disputes to Be Dealt with on the Spot First and Then Referred to the Apostolic See.
But whenever other eases arise which concern the state of the Church and the harmony of priests, we wish them to be first sifted by yourselves in the fear of the Lord, and a full account of all matters settled or needing settlement sent to us, that those things which have been properly and reasonably decided, according to the usage of the Church, may receive our corroborative sanction also. Dated 10th August.
1 Nihil sit inordinatum nihilque proeposterum: the two words are well chosen (as usual), and bearing a distinct meaning: the former expressing“disorder” in the sense of want of the divine commission, the latter “disorder” in the sense of choosing the younger over the old, the inferior over the superior, &c.; the same two epithets occur in Lett. XIX., chap. i.
2 1Tm 5,22.
3 Ante oetatem maturitatis. The Council of Carthage (a.d. 397), c. 4, fixed the downward limit for deacons at 25, and for priest at 30: and we may presume that that was the general rule in Leo’s time, for we find the same ages ordained afterwards in the Novelloe of Justinian (535-565) and elsewhere.
4 Cf. Letter IV., chap ii., and elsewhere.
5 No one will by this time be surprised to find Leo calling Sacred Orders either a sacramentum, as here, or mysterium, as in the next sentence: the two terms are indeed in his usage almost equivalents.
6 Lv 21,13,
7 Ep 5,23,
8 1Tm 3,10,
9 The shorter edition of this letter, which is extent, gives this sentence in a very different form: the qualifications are much more exactly defined, e.g. bishops are to have spent their lives in orders a puerilibus exordiis usque ad provectiores annos.I think Quesnel is right in considering this a later version and alteration the better to inculcate the usage of the Church. For although no doubt people were often mere boys [Readers (lectores) for instance: see Bright’s note 46] when they entered minor orders yet the fact that one was an adult layman before taking orders could not ipso facto have precluded a man from becoming bishop, however desirable the rule and general principle might be. In fact Cyprian at least is evidence to the contrary.
10 Sc. 2Tm 2,20.
11 9 Ps 25,10.
13 Per legitama augmenta, cf.n. 7 above. This passage makes it clear what is there required is not the puerilia exordia of the shorter edition of this letter, but the multum tempus of this longer edition.
14 Utcumque again.
15 Aliqua rations.
16 In the case of these two noted African schisms it is hardly necassary to do more than refer the reader to Smith’s or any other standard dictionary).
17 Fere here added probably to account for the long tail of extraneous or repeated matter tacked on to the letter.
18 Here the shorter edition of the letter breaks off, and there are certainly difficulties in considering that the long coda or repetitions and fresh matter here attached formed part of the original draft of the letter. Is it possible that two letters (the one later than the other) have been welded into one ?
19 Castellis. Cf. Liv. xxi. chaps. 33, 34, where the word is used of the Alpine villages. In the Vulgate it represents, the Gk). kwvmh (e.g. Mc 6,6, Lc 5,17.
21 Cyprian (de hab. Virg). speaks of women who have lost their virginity by their own fault.as viduoe antequam nuptoe, and S. Jerome, using the same expression (Lett to Eustochius on the preservation of Virginity), implies that they very often dressed like widows (plerasque viduas antequam nuptas infelicem conscientiam mentita tantum veste protegere): this will account for Leo’s here providing that these unhappy women are not deiici in viduarum gradum. Ball.
22 The case of Lupicious seems somewhat similar to that of Projectus in Lett. X., chap iv, and was similarly referred to local experts .
Leo congratulates them on accepting the authority of Anastasius over them (given in Lett. IV)..
Leo, bishop of the City of Rome, to Anastasius, bishop of Thessalonica.
If with true reasoning you perceived all that has been committed to you, brother, by the blessed apostle Peter’s authority, and what has also been entrusted to you by our favour, and would weigh it fairly, we should be able greatly to rejoice at your zealous discharge of the responsibility imposed on you1 .
II. Anastasius is Taxed with Exceeding the Limits of His Vicariate, Especially in His Violent and Unworthy Treatment of Atticus.
Seeing that, as my predecessors acted towards yours, so too I, following their example, have delegated my authority to you2 , beloved: so that you, imitating our gentleness, might assist us in the care which we owe primarily to all the churches by Divine institution, and might to a certain extent make up for our personal presence in visiting those I provinces which are far off from us: for it would be easy for you by regular and well-timed inspection to tell what and in what cases you could either, by your own influence, settle or reserve for our judgment. For as it was free for you to suspend the more important matters and the harder issues while you awaited our opinion, there was no reason nor necessity for you to go out of your way to decide what was beyond your powers. For you have numerous written warnings of ours in which we have often instructed you to be temperate in all your actions: that with loving exhortations you might provoke the churches of Christ committed to you to healthy obedience. Because, although as a rule there exist among careless or slothful brethren things which demand a strong hand in rectifying them; yet the correction ought to be so applied as ever to keep love inviolate. Wherefore also it is that the blessed Apostle Paul, in instructing Timothy upon the ruling of the Church, says: “an eider rebuke not, but intreat him as a father: the young men as brethren: old women as mothers: young women as sisters in all purity3 .” And if this moderation is due by the Apostle’s precept to all and any of the lower members, how much more is it to be paid without offence to our brethren and fellow-bishops? in order that although things sometimes happen which have to be reprimanded in the persons of priests, yet kindness may have more effect on those who are to be corrected than severity: exhortation than perturbation: love than power. But they who “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s4 ,” easily depart from this law, and finding pleasure rather in domineering over their subjects than in consulting their interests, are swoln with the pride of their position, and thus what was provided to secure harmony ministers to mischief. That we are obliged to speak thus causes us no small grief. For I feel myself in a certain measure drawn into blame, on discovering you to have so immoderately departed from the rules handed down to you. If you were careless of your own reputation, you ought at least to have spared my good name: lest what only your own mind prompted should seem done with our approval. Do but read, brother, our pages with care, and peruse all the letters sent by holders of the Apostolic See to your predecessors, and you will find injunctions either from me or from my predecessors on that in which we learn you have presumed.
For there has come to us our brother Atticus, the metropolitan5 bishop of Old Epirus, with the bishops of his province, and with tearful pleading has complained of the undeserved contumely he has suffered, in the presence of your own deacons who, by giving no contradiction to these woeful complaints, showed that what was impressed upon us did not want for truth. We read also in your letter, which those same deacons of yours brought, that brother Atticus had come to Thessalonica, and that he had also sealed his agreement in a written profession, so that we could not but understand concerning him that it was of his own will and free devotion that he had come, and that he had composed the statement of his promise of obedience, although in the very mention of this statement a sign of injury was betrayed. For it was not necessary that he should be bound in writing, who was already proving his obedience by the very dutifulness of his voluntary coming. Wherefore these words in your letter bore witness to the bewailings of the aforesaid, and through his outspoken account that which had been passed over in silence is laid bare, namely that the Praefecture of Illyricum had been approached, and the most exalted functionary among the potentates of the world6 had been set in motion to expose an innocent prelate: so that a company was sent to carry out the aweful deed who were to enlist all the public servants in giving effect to their orders, and from the church’s holy sanctuary charged with no crime, or at best a false one, was dragged a priest, to whom no truce was granted in consideration of his grievous ill-health or the cruel winter weather: but he was forced to take a journey full of hardships and dangers through the pathless snows. And this was a task of such toil and peril that some of those who accompanied the bishop are said to have succumbed7 .
I am quite dumb-founded, beloved brother, yea and I am also sore grieved that you brought yourself to be so savagely and violently moved against one about whom you had laid no further information than that when summoned to appear he put off and excused himself on the grounds of illness; especially when, even if he deserved any such treatment, you should have waited till I had replied to your consulting letter. But, as I perceive, you thought too well of my habits, and most truly foresaw how fair-minded8 an answer I was likely to make to preserve harmony among priests: and therefore you made haste to carry out your movements without concealment, lest when you had received the letter of our forbearance dictating another course, you should have no licence to do that which is done. Or perhaps some crime had reached your ears, and metropolitan9 bishop that you are, the weight of some new charge pressed you hard? But that this is not consistent with the fact, you yourself make certain by laying nothing against him. Yet even if he had committed some grave and intolerable misdemeanour, you should have waited for our opinion: so as to arrive at no decision by yourself until you knew our pleasure. For we made you our deputy, beloved, on the understanding that you were engaged to share our responsibility, not to take plenary powers on yourself. Wherefore as what you bestow a pious care on delights us much, so your wrongful acts grieve us sorely. And after experience in many cases we must show greater foresight, and use more diligent precaution: to the end that through the spirit of love and peace all matter of offence may be removed from the Lord’s churches, which we have commended to you: the pre-eminence of your bishopric being retained in the provinces, but all your usurping excesses being shorn off.
III. The Rights of the Metropolitans Under the Vicariate of Anastasius are to Be Observed.
Therefore according to the canons of the holy Fathers, which are framed by the spirit of God and hollowed by the whole world’s reverence, we decree that the metropolitan bishops Of each province over which your care. brother, extends by our delegacy shall keep untouched the rights of their position which have been handed down to them from olden times: but on condition that they do not depart from the existing regulations by any carelessness or arrogance.
IV. The Negative Qualifications of a Bishop Determined.
In cities whose governors10 have died let this form be observed in filling up their place: he, who is to be ordained, even though his good life be not attested, shall be not a layman, not a neophyte, nor yet the husband of a second wife, or one who, though he has or has had but one, married a widow. For the choosing of priests is of such surpassing importance that things which in other members of the Church are not blame-worthy, are yet held unlawful in them.
V. Continence is Required Even in Sub Deacons.
For although they who are not within the ranks of the clergy are free to take pleasure in the companionship of wedlock and the procreation of children, yet for the exhibiting of the purity of complete continence, even sub-deacons are not allowed carnal marriage: that “both those that have, may be as though they had not11 ,” and those who have not, may remain single. But if in this order, which is the fourth from the Head12 , this is worthy to be observed, how much more is it to be kept in the first, or second, or third, lest any one be reckoned fit for either the deacon’s duties or the presbyter’s honourable position, or the bishop’s pre-eminence, who is discovered not yet to have bridled his uxorious desires.
VI. The Election of a Bishop Must Proceed by the Wishes of the Clergy and People.
When therefore the choice of the chief priest is taken in hand, let him be preferred before all whom the unanimous consent of clergy and people demands, but if the votes chance to be divided between two persons, the judgment of the metropolitan should prefer him who is supported by the preponderance of votes and merits: only let no one be ordained against the express wishes of the place: lest a city should either despise or hate a bishop whom they did not choose, and lamentably fall away from religion because they have not been allowed to have when they wished.
VII. Metropolitans are to Refer to Their Vicar: the Made of Electing Metropolitans is Laid Down.
However the metropolitan bishop should refer to you, brother, about the person to be consecrated bishop, and about the consent of the clergy and people: and he should acquaint you with the wishes of the province: that the due celebration of the ordination may be strengthened by your authority also. But to right selections it will be your duty to cause no delay or hindrance, lest the Lord’s flocks should remain too long with their shepherd’s care.
Moreover when a metropolitan is defunct and another has to be elected in to his place, the bishops of the province must meet together in the metropolitical city: that after the wishes of all the clerics and all the citizens have been sifted, the best man may be chosen from the presbyters of that same church or from the deacons, and you are to be informed of his name by the priests of the province, who will carry out the wishes of his supporters on ascertaining that you agree with their choice13 . For whilst we desire proper elections to be hampered by no delays, we yet allow nothing to be done presumptuously without your knowledge.
VIII. Bishops are to Hold Provincial Councils Twice a Year.
Concerning councils of bishops we give no other instructions than those laid down for the Church’s health by the holy Fathers14 : to wit that two meetings should be held a year, in which judgment should be passed upon all the complaints which are wont to arise between the various ranks of the Church. But if perchance among the rulers themselves a cause arise (which God forbid) concerning one of the greater sins, such as cannot be decided by a provincial trial, the metropolitan shall take care to inform you, brother, concerning the nature of the whole matter, and if, after both parties have come before you, the thing be not set at rest even by your judgment, whatever it be, let it be transferred to our jurisdiction.
IX. Translation from One See to Another is to Be Prohibited.
If any bishop, despising the insignificance of his city, shall intrigue for the government of a more populous place, and transfer himself by whatever means to a larger flock, he shall first be driven from the chair he has usurped, and also shall be deprived of his own: so shall he preside neither over those whom in his greed he coveted, nor over those whom in his arrogance he spurned. Therefore let each be content with his own bounds, and not seek to be raised above the limits of his present post.
X. Bishops are Not to Entice or Receive the Clergy of Another Diocese.
A cleric from another diocese let no (bishop) accept or invite against the wishes of his own bishop: but only when giver and receiver agree together thereupon by friendly compact. For a man is guilty of a serious injury who ventures either to entice or withhold from a brother’s church that which is of great use or high value. And so, if such a thing happen within the province, the metropolitan shall force the deserting cleric to return to his church: but if he has withdrawn himself still further off, he shall be recalled by your authoritative command: so that no occasion be left for either desire of gain or intrigue.
XI. When the Vicar Shall Require a Meeting of Bishops, Two from Each Province Will Be Sufficient.
In summoning bishops to your presence, we wish you to show great forbearance: lest under a show of much diligence you seem to exult in your brethren’s injuries. Wherefore if any greater case arise for which it is reasonable and necessary to convene a meeting of brethren, it may suffice, brother, that two bishops should attend from each province, whom the metropolitans shall think proper to be sent, on the understanding that those who answer the summons be not detained longer than fifteen days from the time fixed.
XII. In Case of Difference of Opinion Between the Vicar and the Bishops, the Bishop of Rome Must Be Consulted. The Subordination of Authorities in the Church Expounded.
But if in that which you believed necessary to be discussed and settled with the brethren, their opinion differs from your own wishes, let all be referred to us, with the minutes of your proceedings attested, that all ambiguities may be removed, and what is pleasing to God decided. For to this end we direct all our desires and pains, that what conduces to our harmonious unity and to the protection of discipline may be marred by no dissension and neglected by no slothfulness. Therefore, dearly beloved brother, you and those our brethren who are offended at your extravagant conduct (though the matter of complaint is not the same with all), we exhort and warn not to disturb by any wrangling what has been rightfully ordained and wisely settled. Let none “seek what is his own, but what is another’s,” as the Apostle says: “Let each one of you please his neighbour for his good unto edifying15 .” For the cementing of our unity cannot be firm unless we be bound by the bond of love into an inseparable solidity: because “as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office; so we being many are one body in Christ, and all of us members one of another16 .” The connexion of the whole body makes all alike healthy, all alike beautiful: and this connexion requires the unanimity indeed of the whole body, but it especially demands harmony among the priests. And though they have a common dignity, yet they have not uniform rank; inasmuch as even among the blessed Apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their honourable estate, there was st certain distinction of power, and while the election of them all was equal, yet it was given to one17 to take the lead of the rest. From which model has arisen a distinction between bishops also, and by an important ordinance it has been provided18 that every one should not claim everything for himself: but that there should be in each province one whose opinion should have the priority among the brethren: and again that certain whose appointment is in the greater cities should undertake a fuller responsibility, through whom the care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter’s one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head. Let not him then who knows he has been set over certain others take it ill that some one has been set over him, but let him himself render the obedience which he demands of them: and as he does not wish to bear a heavy load of baggage, so let him not dare to place on another’s shoulders a weight that is insupportable. For we are disciples of the humble and gentle Master who says: “Learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden light19 .” And how shall we experience this, unless this too comes to our remembrance which the same Lord says: “He that is greater among you, shall be your servant. But he that exalteth himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted20 .”
1 De iniunctae tibi sollicitudinis devotione ( an obscure expression).
2 See Letter IV., where it will be remembered the appointment of Anastasius, as Vicar of Illyricum, was made.
3 1Tm 5,1-2.
4 Ph 2,21.
5 Some for metropolitanus here read Nicopolitanus, Bishop of Nicopolis the metropolitan see of old Epirus. Quesnel.
6 The language is, I think, intentionally exaggerated and high-flown : parturiunt montes nascetur ridiculus mus.
7 Anastasius seems to have arraigned Atticus before the civil court of the Prefect of Illyricum: he sent his apparitors, who violently dragged him out of the church, and brought him in midwinter across country to be tried.
8 The word is civilia, in which Brissonius thinks be sees en allusion either to the opposition between civil law and, proetor’s law (to which Anastasius had appealed), or else to the technical meaning of the word in jurisprudence as equivalent to ‘Legitimate0’ or ‘fair0’. The latter is more likely.
9 Quesnel here accepts Nicopolitanuminstead of metropoltanum (see (n. 7 above), but with little reason).
11 . 1Co 7,29. A reference to this passage will show that S. Paul does not limit himself to the clergy in what he says: for an interesting note on the text (written, of course from the Roman standpoint), the reader is referred to Hurter’s edition in loc., who adduces some valuable illustrations from Epiphanius, Jerome, &c.
12 Quartus a Capite, i.e. from Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, or perhaps from the Bishop of Rome, His soi-disant representative on earth (cf. chap. xii, below).
13 This method of electing the metropolitan will at once strike the reader: the electors apparently are (I) the bishops of the province (who are not eligable for the office); (2) the clergy ol the diocese (who alone are eligible); and (3) the laity of the diocese. Only if one remember how limited each diocese was in extent, can one realise the working of the method.
14 The Council of Nicaoe (325) fixed two councils a year, one ante quadragesimam Paschae (ie. before Eastertide), the other circa tempus autumni.
15 Ph 2,4, and Rm 15,2,
16 1Co 12,12, &c.: the quotation is loose, Rm 12,5,
17 Viz., S. Peter.
18 Magna ordinatione provisum est..
19 Mt 11,29-30.
20 Mt 23,11-12.
Leo the Great: letters 1011