And the like:
Leo, the Bishop, to Marcian Augustus.
Leo the bishop to Pulcheria Augusta.
I. He congratulates the Empress on the triumph of the Faith, but regrets the introduction of a new controversy into the Church.
We rejoice ineffably with your Grace that the catholic Faith has been defended against heretics and peace restored to the whole Church through your clemency’s holy and God-pleasing zeal: giving thanks to the Merciful and Almighty God that He has suffered none save those who loved darkness rather than light to be defrauded of the gospel-truth: so that by the removal of the mists of error the purest light might arise in the hearts of all, and that darkness-loving foe might not triumph over certain weak souls, whom not only those who stood unhurt but also those whom he had made to totter have overcome, and that by the abolition of error the true Faith might reign throughout the world, and “every tongue might confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father (Phil. i. 11.).” But when the whole world had been confirmed in the unity of the Gospel, and the hearts of all priests had been guided into the same belief, it had been better that besides those matters for which the holy Synod was assembled, and which were brought to a satisfactory agreement through your Grace’s zeal, nothing should be introduced to counteract so great an advantage, and that a council of bishops should not be made an occasion for the inopportune advancing of an illegitimate desire.
II. The Nicene canons are unalterable and binding universally.
For my brother and fellow-bishop Anatolius not sufficiently considering your Grace’s kindness and the favour of my assent, whereby he gained the priesthood of the church of Constantinople, instead of rejoicing at what he has gained, has been inflamed with undue desires beyond the measure of his rank, believing that his intemperate self-seeking could be advanced by the assertion that certain persons had signified their assent thereto by an extorted signature: notwithstanding that my brethren and fellow-bishops, who represented me, faithfully and laudably expressed their dissent from these attempts which are doomed to speedy failure. For no one may venture upon anything in opposition to the enactments of the Fathers’ canons which many long years ago in the city of Nicæa were founded upon the decrees of the Spirit, so that any one who wishes to pass any different decree injures himself rather than impairs them. And if all pontiffs will but keep them inviolate as they should, there will be perfect peace and complete harmony through all the churches: there will be no disagreements about rank, no disputes about ordinations, no controversies about privileges, no strifes about taking that which is another’s; but by the fair law of love a reasonable order will be kept both in conduct and in office, and he will be truly great who is found free from all self-seeking, as the Lord says, “Whosoever will become greater among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be first among you shall be your slave; even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister (S. Matt. xx. 26–28).” And yet these precepts were at the time given to men who wished to rise from a mean estate and to pass from the lowest to the highest things; but what more does the ruler of the church of Constantinople covet than he has gained? or what will satisfy him, if the magnificence and renown of so great a city is not enough? It is too arrogant and intemperate thus to step beyond all proper bounds and trampling on ancient custom to wish to seize another’s right: to increase one man’s dignity at the expense of so many metropolitans’ primacy, and to carry a new war of confusion into peaceful provinces which were long ago set at rest by the enactments of the holy Nicene Synod: to break through the venerable Fathers’ decrees by alleging the consent of certain bishops, which even the course of so many years has not rendered effective. For it is boasted that this has been winked at for almost 60 years now
, and the said bishop thinks that he is assisted thereby; but it is vain for him to look for assistance from that which, even if a man dared to wish for it, yet he could never obtain.
III. Only by imitating his predecessor will he regain Leo’s confidence: the assent of the bishops is declared null and void.
Let him realize what a man he has succeeded, and expelling all the spirit of pride let him imitate Flavian’s faith, Flavian’s modesty, Flavian’s humility, which has raised him right to a confessor’s glory. If he will shine with his virtues, he will merit all praise, and in all quarters he will win an abundance of love not by seeking human advancement but by deserving Divine favour. And by this careful course I promise he will bind my heart also to him, and the love of the Apostolic See, which we have ever bestowed on the church of Constantinople, shall never be violated by any change. Because if sometimes rulers fall into errors through want of moderation, yet the churches of Christ do not lose their purity. But the bishops’ assents, which are opposed to the regulations of the holy canons composed at Nicæa in conjunction with your faithful Grace, we do not recognize, and by the blessed Apostle Peter’s authority we absolutely dis-annul in comprehensive terms, in all ecclesiastical cases obeying those laws which the Holy Ghost set forth by the 318 bishops for the pacific observance of all priests in such sort that even if a much greater number were to pass a different decree to theirs, whatever was opposed to their constitution would have to be held in no respect
IV. He requests the Empress to give his letter her favourable consideration.
And so I request your Grace to receive in a worthy spirit this lengthy letter, in which I had to explain my views, at the hands of my brother and fellow-bishop Lucianus, who, as far as in him lies, has faithfully executed the anxious duties of his undertaking as my delegate, and of my son Basil, the deacon. And because it is your habit to labour for the peace and unity of the Church, for his soul’s health keep my brother Anatolius the bishop, to whom I have extended my love by your advice, within those limits which shall be profitable to him, that as your clemency’s glory is magnified already for the restoration of the Faith, so it may be published abroad for the restraint of self-seeking. Dated the 22nd of May, in the consulship of the illustrious Herculanus (452).http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.ii.iv.c.html
To the Lord Theodosius, Conqueror and Emperor, her ever august son, Galla Placidia, most pious and prosperous, perpetual Augusta and mother.
When on our very arrival in the ancient city, we were engaged in paying our devotion to the most blessed Apostle Peter, at the martyr’s very altar, the most reverend Bishop Leo waiting behind awhile after the service uttered laments over the catholic Faith to us, and taking to witness the chief of the Apostles himself likewise, whom we had just approached, and surrounded by a number of bishops whom he had brought together from numerous cities in Italy by the authority and dignity of his position, adding also tears to his words, called upon us to join our moans to his own. For no slight harm has arisen from those occurrences, whereby the standard of the catholic Faith so long guarded since the days of our most Divine father Constantine, who was the first in the palace to stand out as a Christian, has been recently disturbed by the assumption of one man, who in the synod held at Ephesus is alleged to have rather stirred up hatred and contention, intimidating by the presence of soldiers, Flavianus, the bishop of Constantinople, because he had sent an appeal to the Apostolic See, and to all the bishops of these parts by the hands of those who had been deputed to attend the Synod by the most reverend Bishop of Rome, who have been always wont so to attend, most sacred Lord and Son and adored King, in accordance with the provisions of the Nicene Synod [See no. 9a to Lett. XLIV., 3, where it is shown that this is a mistake, willful or otherwise, on Leo’s part
.] For this cause we pray your clemency to oppose such disturbances with the Truth, and to order the Faith of the catholic religion to be preserved without spot, in order that according to the standard and decision of the Apostolic See, which we likewise revere as pre-eminent, Flavianus may remain altogether uninjured in his priestly office, and the matter be referred to the Synod of the Apostolic See, wherein assuredly he first adorned the primacy, who was deemed worthy to receive the keys of heaven: for it becomes us in all things to maintain the respect due to this great city, which is the mistress of all the earth; and this too we must most carefully provide that what in former times our house guarded seem not in our day to be infringed, and that by the present example schisms be not advanced either between the bishops or the most holy churches.http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf212.ii.iv.lv.html
To Theodosius Augustus.
Leo, the bishop, and the holy Synod which is assembled at Rome to Theodosius Augustus.
I. He exposes the unscrupulous nature of the proceedings at Ephesus.
From your clemency’s letter, which in your love of the catholic Faith you sent sometime ago to the see of the blessed Apostle Peter, we drew such confidence in your defence of truth and peace that we thought nothing harmful could happen in so plain and well-ordered a matter; especially when those who were sent to the episcopal council, which you ordered to be held at Ephesus, were so fully instructed that, if the bishop of Alexandria had allowed the letters, which they brought either to the holy synod or to Flavian the bishop, to be read in the ears of the bishops, by the declaration of the most pure Faith, which being Divinely inspired we both have received and hold, all noise of disputings would have been so completely hushed that neither ignorance could any longer disport itself, nor jealousy find occasion to do mischief. But because private interests are consulted under cover of religion, the disloyalty of a few has wrought that which must wound the whole Church. For not from some untrustworthy messenger, but from a most faithful narrator of the things which have been done, Hilary, our deacon, who, lest he should be compelled by force to subscribe to their proceedings, with great difficulty made his escape, we have learnt that a great many priests came together at the synod, whose numbers would doubtless have assisted the debate and decision, if he who claimed for himself the chief place had consented to maintain priestly moderation, in order that, according to custom, when all had freely expressed their opinion, after quiet and fair deliberation, that might be ordained which was both agreeable to the Faith and helpful to those in error. But we have been told that all who had come were not present at the actual decision: for we have learnt that some were rejected while others were admitted, who at the aforesaid priest’s requisition surrendered themselves to an unrighteous subscription, knowing they would suffer harm unless they obeyed his commands, and that such a resolution was brought forward by him that in attacking one man he might wreak his fury of the whole Church. Which our delegates from the Apostolic See saw to be so blasphemous and opposed to the catholic Faith that no pressure could force them to assent; for in the same synod they stoutly protested, as they ought, that the Apostolic See would never receive what was being passed: since the whole mystery of the Christian Faith is absolutely destroyed (which Heaven forfend in your Grace’s reign), unless this abominable wickedness, which exceeds all former blasphemies, be abolished.
II. And entreats the Emperor to help in reversing their decision.
But because the devil with wicked subtlety deceives the unwary, and so mocks the imprudence of some by a show of piety as to persuade them to things harmful instead of profitable, we pray your Grace, renounce all complicity in this endangering of religion and Faith, and afford in the treatment of Divine things that which is granted in worldly matters by the equity of your laws, that human presumption may not do violence to Christ’s Gospel. Behold, I, O most Christian and honoured Emperor, with my fellow-priests, fulfilling towards your revered clemency the offices of sincere love, and desiring you in all things to please God, to whom prayers are offered for you by the Church, lest before 54the Lord Christ’s tribunal we be judged guilty for our silence,—we beseech you in the presence of the Undivided Trinity of the One Godhead, Whom such an act wrongs (for He is Himself the Guardian and the Author of your empire), and in the presence of Christ’s holy angels, order everything to be in the position in which they were before the decision until a larger number of priests be assembled from the whole world. Suffer not yourself to be weighted with another’s sin because (and we must say it) we are afraid lest He, Whose religion is being destroyed, be provoked to wrath. Keep before your eyes, and with all your mental vision gaze reverently upon the blessed Peter’s glory, and the crowns which all the Apostles have in common with him and the palms of all the martyrs, who had no other reason for suffering than the confession of the true Godhead and the true Manhood in Christ.
III. He asks for a Council in Italy
And because this mystery is now being impiously opposed by a few ignorant persons, all the churches of our parts, and all the priests entreat your clemency, with groans and tears seeing that our delegates faithfully protested, and bishop Flavian gave them an appeal in writing, to order a general synod to be held in Italy, which shall either dismiss or appease all disputes in such a way that there be nothing any longer either doubtful in the Faith or divided in love, and to it, of course, the bishops of the Eastern provinces must come, and if any of them were overcome by threats and injury, and deviated from the path of truth, they may be fully restored by health-giving measures, and they themselves, whose case is harder, if they acquiesce in wiser counsels, may not fall from the unity of the Church. And how necessary this request is after the lodging of an appeal is witnessed by the canonical decrees passed at Nicæa by the bishops of the whole world, which are added below [Both Quesnel and the Ball. agree that the Canon here quoted by Leo really belongs not to the Nicene collection, but to that of Sardica (about 344), in which it stands as no. 4. (Exactly the same mistake is made in Letter LVI
., where Galla Placidia Augusta quotes Canon 5 of Sardica to Theodosius as secundum definitiones Nicœni concilii). Cf. Gore’s Leo, pp. 113, 114. The wording of this fourth Canon is as follows: “Gaudentius, the bishop said, If it please you to add to this admirable declaration which you have passed, I propose that whensoever one bishop has been deposed by the judgment of other bishops, and appeals for his case to be heard in Civitas Novorum, the other bishop cannot by any means be considered confirmed in the same See after the appeal of the one who appears to be deposed, until he receive the decision of the judges there.” In applying this to the present case, Leo no doubt proposed to substitute Urbs Roma for Civitas Novorum , though this was hardly the same thing
]. Show favour to the catholics after your own and your parents’ custom. Give us such liberty to defend the catholic Faith as no violence, no fear of the world, while your revered clemency is safe, shall be able to take away. For it is the cause not only of the Church but of your Kingdom and prosperity that we plead, that you may enjoy the peaceful sway of your provinces. Defend the Church in unshaken peace against the heretics, that your empire also may be defended by Christ’s right hand. Dated the 13th of October, in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes (449).
Among the bishops who gave their answers at the last session to the question whether their subscription to the canons was voluntary or forced was Eusebius, bishop of Dorylæum, an Asiatic bishop who said that he had read the Constantinopolitan canon to “the holy pope of Rome in presence of clerics of Constantinople, and that he had accepted it” (L. and C., Conc., iv. 815). But quite possibly this evidence is of little value. But what is more to the point is that the Papal legates most probably had already at this very council recognized the right of Constantinople to rank immediately after Rome. For at the very first session when the Acts of the Latrocinium were read, it was found that to Flavian, the Archbishop of Constantinople, was given only the fifth place. Against this the bishop protested and asked, “Why did not Flavian receive his position?” and the papal legate Paschasinus answered: “We will, please God, recognize the present bishop Anatolius of Constantinople as the first [i.e. after us], but Dioscorus made Flavian the fifth.” It would seem to be in vain to attempt to escape the force of these words by comparing with them the statement made in the last session, in a moment of heat and indignation, by Lucentius the papal legate, that the canons of Constantinople were not found among those of the Roman Code
. It may well be that this statement was true, and yet it does not in any way lessen the importance of the fact that at the first session (a very different thing from the sixteenth) Paschasinus had admitted that Constantinople enjoyed the second place. It would seem that Quesnel has proved his point, notwithstanding the attempts of the Ballerini to counteract and overthrow his arguments.
It would be the height of absurdity for any one to attempt to deny that the canon of Constantinople was entirely in force and practical execution, as far of those most interested were concerned, long before the meeting of the council of Chalcedon, and in 394, only thirteen years after the adoption of the canon, we find the bishop of Constantinople presiding at a synod at which both the bishop of Alexandria and the bishop of Antioch were present.
St. Leo made, in connexion with this matter, some statements which perhaps need not be commented upon, but should certainly not be forgotten. In his epistle to Anatolius (no. cvi.) in speaking of the third canon of Constantinople he says: “That document of certain bishops has never been brought by your predecessors to the knowledge of the Apostolic See
.” And in writing to the Empress (Ep. cv., ad Pulch.) he makes the following statement, strangely contrary to what she at least knew to be the fact, “To this concession a long course of years has given no effect
We need not stop to consider the question why Leo rejected the xxviijth canon of Chalcedon. It is certain that he rejected it and those who wish to see the motive of this rejection considered at length are referred to Quesnel and to the Ballerini; the former affirming that it was because of its encroachments upon the prerogatives of his own see, the latter urging that it was only out of his zeal for the keeping in full force of the Nicene decree.
Leo can never be charged with weakness. His rejection of the canon was absolute and unequivocal. In writing to the Emperor he says that Anatolius only got the See of Constantinople by his consent, that he should behave himself modestly, and that there is no way he can make of Constantinople “an Apostolic See,” and adds that “only from love of peace and for the restoration of the unity of the faith” he has “abstained from annulling this ordination” (Ep. civ.).
To the Empress he wrote with still greater violence: “As for the resolution of the bishops which is contrary to the Nicene decree, in union with your faithful piety, I declare it to be invalid and annul it by the authority of the holy Apostle Peter” (Ep. cv.).The papal annulling does not appear to have been of much force, for Leo himself confesses, in a letter written about a year later to the Empress Pulcheria
(Ep. cxvi.), that the Illyrian bishops had since the council subscribed the xxviiith canon
.The pope had taken occasion in his letter in which he announced his acceptance of the doctrinal decrees of Chalcedon to go on further and express his rejection of the canons. This part of the letter was left unread throughout the Greek empire, and Leo complains of it to Julian of Cos