Document: Letter 14
Date: 381/382
Addressee: Theodosius
English Translation: FC 26.223-225
Summary of Contents: Thanks to Theodosius for attempting to appease the differences between East and West

The knowledge of your faith, spread throughout the world, has won the deep affection of our hearts. And now, to enhance even more the glory of your reign, since it seems you have brought back unity to the Churches of East and West, we have thought that your Clemency should be petitioned by our letters and instructed also regarding the affairs of the Church, O Emperor most serene and faithful! There has been cause for sorrow between Eastern and Western people because the sacred communion of their congregations has been interrupted.

We pass over in silence those whose error and sin caused this, that we may not appear to be weaving tales and idle talk. We are not sorry to have tried a course of action the neglect of which might have been cause for censure. We are often blamed for seeming not to value highly unison with the Eastern brethren, and for seeming to refuse their good will.

As a matter of fact, however, we have thought that our endeavors should be publicly recognized as being concerned not for Italy, which has been at peace for a long time and free from the Arians, and is not disturbed by any trouble with any other heretics – not, we repeat, for ourselves. We do not look for that which concerns us, but that which concerns all, not for the interests of Gaul and Africa, which possess a united friendship of all their bishops, but we are anxious that these matters which pertain to the East and have troubled our communion may be discussed before a synod and every difficulty removed from our midst.

Some matters pertain to those persons of whom your Clemency has deigned to write; others, to those who are trying to introduce some sort of dogma into the Church, said to be the teaching of Apollinaris; and these items, which should have been cut out by the roots while both parties were present, greatly distress us. Then, if a person is spreading a new dogma and is found guilty of error, he should not hide himself under the general name of the faith, but, immediately, because he does not have title to it through his teaching authority, he should lay aside his priestly office and title, and no materials or devices for treachery should remain for those who, in the future, wish to deceive others. If one is not found guilty when the parties are present, for by your august and princely response your Clemency has defined [the limits of discussion for us], he will seize upon some loophole of complaint which will have to be reckoned with.

For these reasons, therefore, we have asked for a council of bishops so that no one can allege falsehood while members are absent, and that whatever is true may be discussed in the council. Thus, no suspicion of intention or willingness falls on those who have done everything in the presence of all parties.

We have prepared this rescript not by way of definition, but of instruction, and in asking for a judgment we do not advance a pre-judgment. Nor must any disapproval of those parties be presumed when the bishops, whose absence has been noted frequently, are summoned to the council, because now the common good is being consulted. We ourselves have never thought there was any disapproval expressed when a bishop of the Church at Constantinople, one Paulus by name, called for a synod of Eastern and Western bishops in Achaia.

Your Clemency notices that this is not an unreasonable demand, for it has been asked for by the Eastern bishops. But, because there is a disturbance in Illyricum, safer places have been sought on the coast. Plainly, we do not, as it were, start something out of the ordinary, but we are keeping the pattern established for councils by Athanasius, of holy memory, who was like a pillar of faith, and by the ancient fathers of times past. We have not torn up boundary stones which our Fathers laid down, we do not violate the laws of the communion to which we are heirs, but, preserving the honor due your power, we merely show ourselves zealous for peace and repose.

Translation from FC 26.223-225, adapted by SMT

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