Document: Letter 11
Date: 381
Addressee: Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius
English Translation: FC 26.213-215
Summary of Contents: Urges Gratian to support Damasus as Bishop of Rome

Provision has been made, most clement Princes, by the enactments of your Tranquility, that the disbelief of the Arians may not be further hidden or spread abroad, for we do not anticipate the decrees of the council being without effect. As regards the West, only two individuals have been found to dare oppose the council with profane and blasphemous remarks, men who had previously thrown into confusion only a small corner of southern Dacia.

There is another reason which distresses us more, which we had to treat when we assembled, lest it spread over the whole body of the Church scattered throughout the world, and thus throw everything into confusion. Although we generally agreed that Ursinus could not have deceived your Piety (although he allows no tranquility and, amid the countless exigencies of war, attempts an ill-timed deceit), yet, that your holy mind and tranquility of soul, which delight in taking thought for all, may not be swayed by the false adulation of that unreasonable man, we think it right, if you condescendingly allow it, to pray and beseech you, not only to guard against future events, but also to be alarmed over that which has been achieved by his temerity. For, if he found any avenue for his boldness, what would he not put into confusion?

If pity for a single person can influence you, let the prayer of all the bishops move you much more. Who of us will be joined in fellowship with him, when he has tried to usurp a position not due to him, and to which he could not rightfully attain, and tries to regain most unreasonably what he has unreasonably sought? As often as he has been found guilty of disturbances, he still goes on, as though undeterred by past experiences. Generally (as we ascertained and saw in the present council), he was in union and combination with the Arians, when, in company with Valens, he tried to throw into confusion the Church at Milan, holding secret assemblies, sometimes before the doors of the synagogue, sometimes in the homes of Arians, and getting his friends to join them. Then, since he himself could not openly enter their assemblies, teaching and informing them how the peace of the Church might be disturbed, he drew fresh courage from their madness when he was able to earn the favor of their supporters and allies.

Since it is written: “A factious man avoid after a first admonition,” and since another who spoke by the Holy Spirit said that beasts of this sort should be spurned and not received with greeting or welcome, how can we not judge the person whom we have seen united to their society to be also an exponent of disbelief? Even if he were not there, we would nevertheless have besought your Clemency not to allow disturbance to reach the Roman Church, head of the whole Roman world, and that sacred trust of the Apostles, whence flow all the rights of venerable communion upon all persons. We therefore beg and beseech you to deprive him of the means of stealing advantage from you.

We know your Clemency’s holy modesty. Let him not press upon you words unfit for your hearing, or give his noisy utterance to what is foreign to the office and name of priest, or say to you what is unseemly. Since he must have a good reputation at least with those who are outside, may your Clemency condescend to recall what is his reputation among his own fellow citizens. It is shameful to say and immodest to repeat how disgraceful is the rumor which does him harm. Shame over this should have kept him silent, and, if he had some of a bishop’s conscience, he would prefer the Church’s peace and concord to his own ambition and inclination. But, far removed from all embarrassment, sending letters through Paschasius, an excommunicated individual, the standard-bearer of his madness, he sows confusion, and tries to excite even heathens and abandoned characters, We therefore beg that through the removal of this very troublesome person you will restore peace to us bishops and to the Roman people whose security has been interrupted and whose condition at present keeps them in uncertainty and suspense, now that the city prefect has made an appeal. Attaining this, let us in continual accord offer thanks to God the almighty Father and Christ, also the Lord God.

Translation from FC 26.213-215, adapted by SMT

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Last updated: 4-28-2011

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