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Council of Sardica

Papal Authority, St. Peter

“If any bishop looses the judgment in some case [decided by his fellow bishops] and still believes that he has not a bad but a good case, in order that the case may be judged anew …let us honor the memory of the Apostle Peter by having those who have given the judgment write to Julius, Bishop of Rome, so that if it seem proper he may himself send arbiters and the judgment may be made again by the bishops of a neighboring province.” (Council of Sardica, Canon 3 [A.D. 342])

“If some bishop be deposed by the judgment of the bishops sitting in the neighborhood, and if he declare that he will seek further redress, another should not be appointed to his see until the bishop of Rome can be acquainted with the case and render a judgment” (Canon 4 [A.D. 342]).

“Bishop Hosius said: Further decreed, that if a bishop is accused, and the bishops of that region assemble and depose him from his office, if he who has been deposed shall appeal and take refuge with the bishop of the Roman church and wishes to be given a hearing, if he thinks it right that the trial or examination of his case be renewed, let him be pleased to write to those bishops who are in an adjacent and neighbouring province, that they may diligently inquire into all the particulars and decide according to the word of truth. But if he who asks to have his case reheard, shall by his entreaty move the Bishop of Rome to send a presbyter a latere it shall be in the power of that bishop to do what he shall resolve and determine upon; and if he shall decide that some be sent, who shall be present and be judges with the bishops invested with his authority by whom they were appointed, it shall be as he shall choose. But if he believe that the bishops suffice to give a final decision, he shall do what he shall determine upon in his most wise judgment.” (Canon 5, Latin).

“ We were not ignorant, but the fact was well known to us, even before we received the letters of your piety, that the supporters of the abominable heresy of the Arians were practising many dangerous schemes . . . when they came to the city of Sardica, they were unwilling to meet the council of all the holy bishops. From this it became evident that the decision of our brother and fellow bishop Julius was a just one.” (To the Church of Alexandria, preserved in Athanasius’ Apology [A.D. 342]).

“The holy council by the grace of God assembled at Sardica, to their dearly beloved brethren in the Lord, the bishops and fellow-ministers of the Catholic Church every where. he Arian fanatics have dared repeatedly to attack the servants of God who hold the right faith; they tried to substitute a spurious doctrine, and to drive out the orthodox. . . . Indeed their slanders were clearly proved by the fact that, when they were called by our dearly beloved fellow minister Julius, they would not come, and also by the writings of Julius himself. For had they had confidence in the measures in which they were engaged against our fellow ministers, they would have come. And besides they gave a more evident proof of their conspiracy by their conduct in the great and holy synod. For when they reached Sardica and saw our brothers Athanasius, Marcellus, Asclepas and the rest, they were afraid to come to a trial, and though they were repeatedly invited to attend, they would not obey the summon.

“We have therefore pronounced our dearly beloved brethren and fellow ministers Athanasius, Marcellus, and Asclepas, and those who minister to the Lord with them, to be innocent and clear of offence, and have written to the district of each, that the people of'each church may know the innocence of their own bishop, and may accept him as their bishop, and expect his coming. As for those who have invaded their churches like wolves, Gregory at Alexandria, Basil at Ancyra, and Quintian at Gaza, no one should call them bishops, or hold any communion at all with them, or receive letters from them or write to them. . . . Those who separate the Son and alienate the Word from the Father ought themselves to be separated from the Catholic Church and to be alien from the Christian name.” (To the whole Church).

“Paul the apostle said concerning himself: "Or do you seek a proof of the Christ that speaks in me?" Yet, of a truth, since the Lord Christ dwelt in him, it would be impossible to doubt that the Holy Ghost spoke through his soul, and resounded through the organ of his body. Accordingly you too, most beloved brother, though separated in the body were present in a harmony of mind and will. The excuse for your absence was both honourable and necessary lest either schismatic wolves might steal and rob by stealth, or heretical dogs bark madly in the wild fury of excitement, or even the crawling devil pour forth the poison of blasphemy; for this will appear best and fittest, that the priests of the Lord from all the provinces should report to the head, that is to the see of Peter the apostle…

“There were three subjects for us to discuss. For our devout emperors themselves gave us permission to debate thoroughly everything under dispute, and first of all the holy faith and sound truth, which are being assailed.

“You, then, in your excellent wisdom, should provide that our brethren in Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy may learn by a communication from you what has been done and decreed, that they may not accept in ignorance letters of communion or certificates from men who have been degraded by a just verdict.” (To Julius, preserved in Hilary, Fragmentum 2).

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