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Paulinus the Deacon

Apostolic See, Papal Authority, Shepherd

“I beseech justice of your blessedness, Lord Zosimus, venerable Pope. The true faith is never disturbed, certainly not in the apostolic church, in which teachers of false faith are as truly punished as they are easily discovered, that they may die in the evils they have committed, unless they correct them so that in them may be that true faith which the apostles taught, and which the Roman church holds, together with all the doctors of the catholic faith. And if. . . these also who are or will be discovered remain in their perfidy, let them be delivered to the spiritual sword to be destroyed ; just as the other leaders of heresy, long ago judged by the apostolic see, or by the fathers, were expelled from the bosom of the Catholic Church, and given over to eternal death. So let it be with Pelagius and I Celestius, who were condemned by your predecessor, the late Pope Innocent, if they reject the true faith and remain in their perverse doctrine.

“Following his sentence, your blessedness directed to Celestius these words among others, when he was heard by the apostolic see: "Do you condemn everything about the questions which are contained in the libellus of Paulinus?" And I in another place: "Are you acquainted with the letters which the apostolic see sent to the brothers and fellow bishops of the African province? " And then: "Do you condemn all that we have condemned, and hold all that we hold?" And again: "Do you condemn all that is flung about in your name?" And again: "Or those things which Paulinus exposed in his pamphlet?" And when he said that I might be proved a heretic by my accusations of himself, you, filled with the Holy Ghost, rejected his wild and quibbling words and by your apostolic authority gave a judgement by which I was declared catholic, and he might be cured if he would. "I do not want you to lead us in a circle; do you condemn all that was objected against you by Paulinus, or spread about by rumour?" To whom is this decision not sufficient? Who would reject a decision so healthy, so worthy, and so pious except one who is I astray from the faith? And he who had above confessed that I he would condemn whatever was objected against him, if you judged it to be contrary to the faith, hears the word "con- I demn", and not only does not condemn, but disputes to such great injury of the see. So now the Roman church is no longer I ignorant of the character of her plaintiff who has dared in so audacious a spirit to contradict, and not to condemn what your holiness decreed should be condemned.

“I thank God . . . that the apostolic see condemned, by the mouth of two pontiffs, the heresy of which I accused Celestius . . . he has also against him . . . Cyprian, Ambrose, Gregory, and Pope Innocent . . . at least he ought certainly to follow you, if he prefers learning the truth to teaching falsehood; he has (which is first) your blessedness, whose sentence he ought to have obeyed, when he heard you say "condemn". . . . . Wherefore I pray your apostleship to receive this libellus of mine, that I may be able to give thanks to your great see, and to its most just decisions given in my favour. I write it because the subdeacon Basiliscus summoned me verbally at Carthage on 2 November, on behalf of your holiness, with acts of the apostolic see addressed to me, to be present before the apostolic see and the judgement of your holiness, to which it was suggested that I had fled. I would promise not to be absent, if the sentence had been against me and not for me. . . . Let that which could no longer be hid, but has been publicly brought to light, be now cut off by your holiness with the spiritual sword, that the flock of the Lord, which you govern as a good shepherd with anxious care, may no longer be torn by the teeth of this wild beast.”
(Libellus Zosimo oblatus contra Celestium [A.D. November 8, 417]).

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