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Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian

Apostolic See, Papal Authority, Chief of the Apostles, Universal Jurisdiction, St. Peter

“The Emperors Theodosius and Valentinian [the third] to Aetius, Master of the Military and Patrician. It is certain that for us the only defence lies in the favour of the God of heaven; and to deserve it our first care is to support the Christian faith and its venerable religion. Inasmuch then as the primacy of the apostolic see is assured, by the merit of S. Peter, who is chief of the episcopal order, by the rank of the city of Rome, and also by the authority of a sacred synod, let no one presume to attempt any illicit act contrary to the authority of that see. For then at length will the peace of the churches be maintained everywhere, if the whole body acknowledges its ruler. Hitherto these customs have been observed without fail ; but Hilary of Arles, as we are informed by the trustworthy report of that venerable man Leo, Pope of Rome, has with contumacious daring ventured upon certain unlawful proceedings ; and therefore the churches beyond the Alps have been invaded by abominable disorders, of which a recent example particularly bears witness. For Hilary who is called bishop of Arles, without consulting the pontiff of the church of the city of Rome, has in solitary rashness usurped his jurisdiction by the ordination of bishops. He has removed some without authority, and indecently ordained others who are unwelcome and repugnant to the citizens. Since these were not readily received by those who had not chosen them, he has collected to himself an armed band and in hostility has either prepared a barrier of walls for a blockade or embarked on aggression. Thus he has led into war those who prayed for peace to the haven of rest. Such men have been admitted contrary to the dignity of the empire and contrary to the reverence due to the apostolic see ; and after investigation they have been dispersed by the order of that pious man the Pope of the city. The sentence applies to Hilary and to those whom he has wickedly ordained. This same sentence would have been valid through the Gauls without imperial sanction; for what is no allowed in the Church to the authority of so great a pontiff? Hilary is allowed still to be called a bishop, only by the kindness of the gentle president ; and our just command is, that it is not lawful either for him or for anyone else to mix church affairs with arms or to obstruct the orders of the Roman overseer. By such deeds of daring, confidence, in, and respect for, our empire is broken down. Not only then do we put away so great a crime ; but in order that not even the least disturbance may arise amongst the churches, nor the discipline of religion appear in any instance to be weakened, we decree by this eternal law that it shall not be lawful for the bishops of Gaul or of the other provinces, contrary to ancient custom, to do aught without the authority of the venerable Pope of the eternal city. And whatever the authority of the apostolic see has sanctioned, or may sanction, shall be the law for all; so that if any bishop summoned to trial before the pontiff of Rome shall neglect to come, he shall be compelled to appear by the governor of that province. Those things which our divine parents conferred on the. Roman church are to be upheld in every way. Wherefore your illustrious and eminent magnificence is to cause what is enacted above to be observed in virtue of this present edict and law . . .” (Certum Est [A.D. July 8, 445]).

“Your piety therefore will do well, as soon as the approaching feast of Easter shall be passed, to repair to Ephesus so as to be ready by the day of Pentecost; you will bring with you such bishops as you shall think necessary, providing that a sufficient number remain to conduct the business of the province, and that so many as shall be sufficient may come to the council. . . . In the meantime no one shall introduce privately any innovation until the holy synod be assembled and until the common sentence of the same is given by all. . .” (Epistle to Cyril).

“. . We wish the sacred doctrine to be discussed and examined in a holy synod, and that which seems to conform to the right faith to be ratified, whether those who are defeated are granted indulgence by the fathers or not. Further we by no 1 means permit the cities and churches to be disturbed ; but since we do not allow the doctrine to remain in dispute, they ought to be judges of this affair who preside over the priesthood everywhere, and through whom we ourselves are or shall be professing the truth.” (To Cyril and to all Metropolitans. Constantinople, Mansi 4.11 [A.D. November 19, 430]).

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