top of page

Pope St. Julius I

St. Peter

“I have read the letter which was brought by my presbyters Elpidius and Philoxenus, and I am surprised that whereas we wrote in charity and conscious sincerity, you have replied with contention and impropriety; for the pride and arrogance of the writers is exhibited in the letter. These things are alien to the faith in Christ; for what was written in charity should also have a reply in charity. . . . But we are obliged to infer that the words by which you seem to honour us are transformed by irony….

“I must inform you that although I alone wrote, yet the view I expressed is not only mine, but that of all the bishops throughout Italy and in these parts. Indeed I was unwilling to make them all write, lest they should have the pressure of numbers. Of course the bishops assembled on the day fixed, and agreed in these views which I again write to signify to you; so that, beloved, although I alone write, be sure that this is the opinion of all. So much then for the unreasonable, unjust, and suspicious excuses which some of you have devised.

“Now when these things were so spoken, and there were I so many witnesses for him [Athanasius], and so much in justification was advanced for him, what did it bind us to do? What did the ecclesiastical canon require, but that we should I not condemn the man, but rather receive and treat him as a bishop, as we have done? And besides all this, he stayed here a year and six months, awaiting the arrival of you, or of those who wanted to come. His presence shamed everyone, for he would not have been here, if he had not had confidence; and he came not of his own accord, but he was summoned by letter from us, as we wrote to you. But after all this, you complain that we acted against the canons. Now consider : who are they that have done so? We who received the man after so many proofs, or they who, being at Antioch thirty-six halts away, appointed a stranger to be bishop, and sent him to Alexandria with a military force?....

“Now as men with hearts of pity, take care to remedy, as I said before, the things done against the canons, so that if any [harm] has been done, it may be healed by your care. And do not write that I have preferred the communion of Marcellus and Athanasius to yours, for such things are not marks of peace, but of contention and brotherly hatred. I have written the above for this reason, that you may realize that we did not receive them unjustly, and this strife may cease…

“O beloved, the decisions of the Church are no longer according to the gospel, but tend only to exile and death. Supposing, as you assert, that there was some charge against them, the case ought not to have been conducted thus, but according to the ecclesiastical canon. You should have written to us all, so that justice might be determined by all. For the sufferers were bishops, and prominent churches, which the apostles themselves had governed. And why were we not written to especially about the church of the Alexandrians? Are you ignorant that the custom was just to write to us, and then for justice to be determined from here? If then the bishop there was at all suspect, it should have been reported in writing to the church here. As it is they failed to inform us, but acted as they pleased, and now want to obtain our concurrence, though we have not condemned him. Not so the statutes of Paul,not so have the fathers handed down; this is another model, and a new procedure. I beseech you, readily bear with me: what I write is for the common good. For what we have received from the blessed apostle Peter, that I point out to you; and as I believe these things to be obvious to all, I should not have written if the events had not distracted us…” (Pope Julius to the Eusebians, Letter on Behalf of Athanasius, in Athanasius, Apology Against the Arians 20–35 [A.D. 341]).

“For if, indeed as you assert, some sin among them, a jurdicial investigastion ough to have been made according to the ecclesiastical canon, and not in this manner. Everyone should have written to us, in oder that thus what was just might be decided by all; for the bishops were the ones who suffered, and it was not the ordinary churches that were harassed, but which the apostles htemselves goverened in person. Yet why has nothing been written to us, espeically regarding the Alexandrian church? Or do you not know that it is the custom to write to us first, and that here what is just is decided Certainly if any suspicion of this nature did fall upon the bishop of that city, that fact should have been written to this church.” (Epistle to the Antiochenes [A.D. 341]).

bottom of page