Documents Illustrating Papal Authority AD 96--454
edited and introduced by E. Giles [Anglican], published by SPCK (London), 1952, p. 279 ff. (unless otherwise indicated all emphasis is original in the text):
I. THE PRIMACY OF PETER
Leo I was consecrated bishop of Rome on 29 September 440, and on the anniversary of this day he used to preach before about 200 Italian bishops, gathered for the metropolitan synod. Basing his remarks on the well-known Petrine texts in Matthew, Luke, and John, he expounded his theory of Peter's primacy, and of his own authority derived from it.
(Gaudeo, dilectissimi). (P.L.
54--149; Allies 6.)
2....It is by far more profitable, and more worthy, to raise the mind's eye to the contemplation of the glory of the most blessed Peter, and to celebrate this day chiefly in honour of him who was watered with so copious streams from the very fountain of all graces that, while
nothing has passed to others without his participation,
yet he received many special privileges of his own....And yet, out of the whole world, one, Peter is chosen, who presides both at the call of the Gentiles, and over all the apostles and collected fathers of the Church; so that though there be, among God's people, many priests and many shepherds, yet Peter especially rules all whom Christ also rules originally. Beloved, it is a great and wonderful sharing of his own power which the divine honour bestowed on this man, and if he wished that other rulers should be in common with him,
yet did he never give except through him what he denied not to others.
And then the Lord asks all the apostles what men think of him; and they answer in common so long as they set forth the doubtfulness of human ignorance...."And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strength, he says, I will build an eternal temple, and the loftiness of my Church, reaching to heaven, shall rise upon the firmness of this faith.
3...."I will give to thee the keys...loosed in heaven." The right of this power did indeed pass on to the other apostles, and the order of this decree passed on to all the chiefs of the Church; but not in vain was that which was imparted to all
entrusted to one.
Therefore this is commended to Peter separately, because all the rulers of the Church are invested with the figure of Peter. The privilege therefore of Peter remains, wherever judgement is passed from his equity. Nor is there too much severity or indulgence, where nothing is bound, nothing loosed, except what blessed Peter either looses or binds. Again as his passion pressed on, which was to shake the firmness of the disciples, the Lord says, "Simon, behold Satan has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not, and when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren, that ye enter not into temptation". The danger from the temptation of fear was common to all apostles, and they equally needed help of divine protection, since the devil desired to harass and shatter all; and yet special care is taken of Peter by the Lord, and he asks specially for the faith of Peter, as if the state of the others would be more certain if the mind of the chief were not overcome. So then in Peter the strength of all is fortified, and the help of divine grace is so ordered that the stability which through Christ is given to Peter,
through Peter is conveyed to the apostles.
4. Since then, beloved, we see such a protection divinely granted to us, reasonably and justly do we rejoice in the merits and dignity of our leader, rendering thanks to the eternal King, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, for having given so great a power to him whom he made chief of the whole Church, that if anything, even in our time, by us be rightly done and rightly ordered, it is to be ascribed to his working, to his guidance, unto whom it is said, "And thou, when thou art converted, confirm thy brethren"; and to whom the Lord after his resurrection, in answer to the triple profession of eternal love, thrice said, with mystical intent, "Feed my sheep". And this, beyond a doubt, the pious shepherd does even now, and fulfils the charge of his Lord, confirming us with his exhortations, and not ceasing to pray for us, that we may be overcome by no temptation. But if, as we must believe, he extends this care of his piety to all God's people everywhere, how much more will he condescend to grant his help unto us his children, among whom, on the sacred couch of his blessed repose, he rests in the same flesh in which he ruled! To him, therefore, let us ascribe this anniversary day of us his servant, and this festival, by whose patronage we have been thought worthy to share his seat itself, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ helping us in all things, who liveth and reigneth with God the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen.
(Sicut honor). (P.L.
69, 71, 72.)
2...For although the pastors, each one singly, preside over their own flocks with a special care and know that they will have to render an account for the sheep entrusted to them, we have a duty which is shared with all; in fact the function of each one is a part of our work; so that when men resort to see of the blessed apostle Peter from the whole world, and seek from our stewardship that love of the Church entrusted to him by the Lord, the greater our duty to the whole, the heavier we feel the burden to rest on us.
4. There is a further reason for our celebration: not only the apostolic but also the episcopal dignity of the most blessed
Peter, who does not cease to preside over his see
and obtains an abiding partnership with the eternal Priest. For the stability which the rock himself was given by that Rock, Christ,
be conveyed also to his successors,
and wheresoever any steadfastness is apparent, there without doubt is to be seen the strength of the shepherd. For if to almost all martyrs everywhere, in recognition of their endurance of the martyrdoms which they underwent, this has been granted in order to make their merits manifest, namely that they are able to bring help to those in danger, to banish diseases, to drive out unclean spirits, and to cure countless bodily weaknesses, who so ignorantly or grudgingly estimates the honour of blessed Peter as not to believe that
all parts of the Church are ruled by his care
and enriched by his help? There flourishes and survives still in the chief of the apostles that love of God and men which neither the bars of the prison, nor chains, nor the onslaughts of the mob, nor the threats of a king could terrify, and an unconquerable faith, which waged unceasing warfare, and did not wax cold in defeat.
Notice first the idea that the other apostles derived their authority not direct from our Lord, but from him through Peter. [Anglican writer] Gore says this teaching is new, but seventy years before, Optatus had pointed out that Peter alone had received the keys, which is a reasonable interpretation of Matt. 16. 19, the force of which is not necessarily weakened by Matt. 18. 18. Notice also the idea that Peter himself lives on in his successors, the bishops of Rome. This idea can be traced back fifty-five years to Pope Siricius, and it is also held by Leo's Italian contemporary, Peter Chrysologus, archbishop of Ravenna.
Document 240--Peter Chrysologus,
February 449. In Leo,
2...We exhort you, honourable brother, that you obediently listen to what has been written by the blessed Pope of the city of Rome, since blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, offers the truth of the faith to those who seek. For we, in our zeal for peace and faith, cannot decide questions of faith apart from consent of the bishop of Rome. May the Lord vouchsafe to preserve your love for us a very long time, our most dear and honoured son.
Document 241--Peter Chrysologus,
...Just as Peter received his name from the rock, because he was the first to deserve to establish the Church, by reason of his steadfastness of faith, so also Stephen was named from a crown...the first who deserved to bear witness with his blood.
Let Peter hold his ancient primacy
of the apostolic choir. Let him open to those who enter the kingdom of heaven. Let him bind the guilty with his power and absolve the penitent in kindness.
Preaching on the festival of Peter and Paul, Leo recognizes that the greatness of his see is due to the preaching and martyrdom of both these apostles, but he calls it "the blessed Peter's holy see".
29 June. (
1. ... Besides that reverence which to-day's festival has gained from all the world, it is to be honoured with special and peculiar exultation in our city, that there may be a predominance of gladness on the day of their martyrdom in the place where the chiefs of the apostles met their glorious end. For these are the men through whom the light of Christ's gospel shone on thee, O Rome, and through whom thou, who was the teacher of error, wast made the disciple of truth. These are thy fathers and true shepherds, who gave thee claims to be numbered among the heavenly kingdoms, and built thee under much better and happier auspices than they by whose zeal the first foundations of thy walls were laid, and of whom the one that gave thee thy name defiled thee with his brother's blood. These are they who have promoted thee to this glory, that being made a holy nation, a chosen people, a priestly and royal state, and the head of the world through the blessed Peter's holy see, thou didst attain a wider sway by divine religion, than by earthly domination. For although thou wert increased by many victories, and didst extend thy rule on land and sea, yet what thy toils in war subdued is less than what the peace of Christ has conquered.
2....In order that the result of this unspeakable grace [the incarnation] might be spread abroad throughout the world, God's providence made ready the Roman empire, whose growth has reached such limits that the whole multitude of nations are brought into close connexion. For the divinely-planned work particularly required that many kingdoms should be leagued together under one empire, so that the preaching of the word might quickly reach to all people, when they were held beneath the rule of one state....
3. When the twelve apostles...had distributed the world into parts among themselves...the most blessed Peter, chief of the apostolic band, was appointed to the citadel of the Roman empire, that the light of truth which was being displayed for the salvation of all the nations might spread itself more effectively throughout the body of the world from the head itself....
7....Of the excellence of these two fathers [Peter and Paul] we might rightly boast in louder joy, for God's grace has raised them to so high a place among the members of the Church, that he has set them like the twin lights of the eyes in the body whose head is Christ.
II. HILARY OF ARLES
Hilary was bishop of Arles in southern Gaul (429-449), and metropolitan of the province of Vienne. He had attempted to depose two bishops, one of whom was not in his province. The Pope, on hearing their complaints, restored the two bishops and confined Hilary to his own see.
10, to the Bishops throughout the Province of Vienne
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, instituted the worship of the divine religion, which he wished by God's grace to flash upon all nations....The mystery of his gift the Lord willed to belong to the office of all the apostles, in such a way that he has placed the principal charge on blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles, and
from him, as from the head, wishes his gifts to flow to all the body:
so that anyone who dares to secede from the firmness of Peter may understand that he has no share in the divine mystery. For he wished him who had been received into partnership in his undivided unity to be named what he himself was, when he said: "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church"; that the building of the eternal temple by the wondrous gift of God's grace might stand on Peter's solidity, strenghtening his Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor could the gates of hell prevail against it.
2....But Hilary has quitted this path so well maintained by our fathers, and has disturbed the position and harmony of the priests by a new presumption.
5....We, however, have done what, God judging, we believe you will approve. After holding council with all the brethren, we have decreed that the wrongfully ordained man should be deposed, and the bishop Projectus abide in his priesthood.
6. A gang of soliders, as we have learnt, follows the priest through the provinces, and wherever the churches have lost their rightful priests, he makes a disorderly invasion, protected in his presumption by an armed guard. Before this court are dragged for ordination men unknown to the cities over which they are to be set.
7....Tell him [Hilary] that he is not only deposed from another's rights, but also deprived of his power over the province of Vienne which he had assumed wrongfully....he may now be kept by our command, in accordance with the clemency of the apostolic see, to the priesthood of his own city alone.
This was followed by an imperial decree.
Document 244--Valentinian III,
8 July 445. In Leo,
54. 637; Kidd,
The Emperor Theodosius and Valentinian 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 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 not 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 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 illustrous and eminent magnificence is to cause what is enacted above to be observed in virtue of this present edict and law...
...III. THE ROBBER SYNOD
In August 449 a second council was held at Ephesus, which Leo later described as "no court of justice but a gang of thieves", whence it is often called the "Robber Synod". It was presided over by Dioscorus, bishop of Alexandria, and to it the Pope sent his legates, and a letter expounding the doctrine of the incarnation. This letter, was supressed by Dioscorus, and the council, besides upholding the Monophysite heresy, also deposed the orthodox Flavian, bishop of Constantinople. Flavian, on hearing the sentence against him, immediately disclaimed the authority of the council, in which he was backed up by one of the papal legates. The minutes of these proceedings are embodied in the acts of Chalcedon....Other leading bishops deposed by the council were Domnus of Antioch and Theodoret of Cyprus. Flavian died from ill treatment, three days after the sentence, but he had in meantime dispatched an appeal to the Pope. In due course the Pope heard all about the council from his legates, and at once wrote letters of protest to the emperor Theodosius II.
44, to Theodosius II
13 October 449.
Leo the bishop and the holy synod assembled in Rome, to Theodosius Augustus.
1. From your clemency's letter which, in your love of the catholic faith, you sent some time 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 manner; especially when those who were sent to the episcopal council which you instructed to be held at Ephesus were so fully taught, that if the Alexandrian pontiff had allowed the writings which they brought, either to the holy synod or to Bishop Flavian, to be read in the ears of the bishops, by the declaration of the most pure faith, which, since it is divinely inspired, we have received and hold, all noise of disputings would have been hushed, so that neither ignorance could act foolishly any longer, nor jealousy find occasion to do harm. But since private interests are considered under the cover of religion, the disloyalty of a few has brought about what must wound the Church universal. For from no unreliable messenger, but from a most faithful reporter of the facts, namely our deacon Hilary [pope from 461 to 468] (who, lest he should be forced to subscribe, with difficulty escaped), we have learnt [that the proceedings were irregular and the voting not free]....This 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 faith will in fact be torn out (which in your piety's time should not be), unless this foul evil, which exceeds all former sacrilege, is abolished.
3. Because this mystery is being impiously opposed by a few ignorant people, and since our delegates faithfully protested, and Bishop Flavian gave them an appeal in writing, therefore allt he churches of our parts, and all the priests, entreat your clemency, with groans and tears, to order a general synod to be held in Italy. This synod will either dismiss or appease all disputes in such a way that there be nobody any longer either doubtful in faith or divided in love. To this synod of course the bishops of the eastern provinces must come, so that if any of them were overcome by threats and injury, and deviated from the path of truth, they may be fully restored by sound means; likewise that they themselves whose case is harder, if they acquiesce in wiser councils, 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 Nicaea by the priests of the whole world, which are added below.
On this letter, and the previous one
43), [Anglican writer] Gore based his charge against Leo as "distinctly and consciously guilty of a
at any rate, which is not distinguishable from fraud", and as "strangely blinded in conscience to the authority of truth". The Nicene canons make no reference to appeals to Rome, and the Pope is attempting to use the Sardican legislation (Doc. 69) as if it had Nicene authority. He does this in spite of the fact that Popes Boniface and Celestine had had it brought home to them that the Sardican canons were not Nicene. [Anglican writer] Jalland is inclined to take a lenient view of the Pope's conduct, thinking that he was unconvinced by the earlier correspondence, since in the Roman manuscripts the Sardican canons still formed part of the Nicene collections.
It is unlikely that the Emperor Theodosius II would have paid heed to Leo's request for another council to undo the evil of the "Robber Synod"; but on 28 July 450 he died and was succeeded by his orthodox sister, Pulcheria, who in less than a month married the soldier-senator Marcian and invested him with the imperial insignia. The relations between the court and the Pope were now amicable, and the following letter of the empress opened the way to the council of Chalcedon.
Document 246--The Empress Pulcheria,
A.D. 450. Leo,
54. 906; Teetgen 253.)
The letter of your blessedness we have received, with all reverence due to a bishop; by which we know that your faith is pure and such as ought with holiness to be held forth in the sacred Church. But I equally, with my lord, the most serene emperor, my spouse, have ever abode, and do still abide therein, turning away from all perverseness, defilement, and evil doing. The most holy bishop, therefore, of glorious Constantinople hath continued in the same faith and worship, and embraces the confession of your apostolic letters, putting away that error arisen from some, which from his own letters, also, your holiness will be able to perceive; and he hath, without delay of any kind, subscribed the letter likewise of catholic faith which your blessedness addressed to the bishop Flavian of holy memory. And accordingly, let your reverence deign, in whatever way you see good, to signify to all bishops, even of the whole East, of Thrace and Illyricum, as also it hath pleased our lord the most pious emperor, my spouse, that they may be able quickly to muster from the western parts and meet in one city, and there, having formed a council, let them at your invitation proceed to decree about the catholic confession and concerning those bishops who previously held aloof, as the faith and Christian piety may require. Moreover let your holiness know that by the command of our lord and most serene prince, my spouse, the body of Flavian of holy memory has been brought to the most glorious city of Constantinople, and has been duly placed in the basilica of the apostles in which his predecessors were wont to be buried. And likewise, by the authority of his decree, he has ordered those bishops to return who for the same cause of having agreed with the most holy Flavian in the concord catholic faith had been sent into exile, in order that by the sanction of the council and the decree of the bishops assembled they may be enabled to recover the episcopate and their own churches.
The Greek historian Sozomen [a contemporary of Leo] closely follows Socrates (Doc. 234) in his remarks about papal authority in general and Pope Julius in particular.
Book 3. A.D. 450.
67. 1052; Bagster 113.)
8. Athanasius, escaping from Alexandria, came to Rome. Paul, bishop of Constantinople, Marcellus of Ancyra, and Asclepas of Gaza went there at the same time. Asclepas, who was opposed to the Arians, had been accused by them of having thrown down an altar, and Quintian had been appointed in his place. Lucius, bishop of Adrianople, who had been deposed from his office on another charge, was also staying in Rome. The Roman bishop, on learning the accusation against each one, and finding that they were all like-minded about the doctrine of the council of Nicaea, admitted them to communion as of like orthodoxy. And
alleging that the care for all belongs to him, because of the dignity of his see, he restored each to his own church.
10....Julius, learning that Athanasius was not safe in Egypt, called him back to himself. He replied at the same time to the letter of the bishops who were convened at Antioch, for just then he happened to have received it, and he accused them of having secretly introduced innovations contrary to the dogmas of the Nicene council, and of having violated the laws of the Church by not calling him to the synod. For
there is a priestly law, making void whatever is effected against the mind of the bishop of Rome.
The witness of the learned Theodoret is interesting. He was born about 393, and at the age of thirty was made bishop of Cyrus, a diocese with 800 tiny parishes, near the upper waters of the Euphrates. He was a zealous bishop and a popular preacher, especially at Antioch, which he often visited.
Oratio de Caritate. (P.G.
[Quoting Luke 22. 31,32.] "For as I", he says, "did not despise thee when tossed, so be thou a support to thy brethren in trouble, and the help by which thou wast saved do thou thyself impart to others, and exhort them not while they are tottering, but raise them up in their peril. For this reason I suffer thee also to slip, but do not permit thee to fail, [thus] through thee gaining steadfastness for those who are tossed." So this great pillar supported the tossing and sinking world, and permitted it not to fall entirely and gave it back stability, having been ordered to feed God's sheep.
...On being deposed by the Robber Synod, Theodoret like Flavian appealed to Rome.
113, to Leo. A.D. 449. Leo,
I. If Paul, the herald of the truth, the trumpet of the Holy Ghost, had recourse to the great Peter, in order to obtain a decision from him for those at Antioch who were disputing about living by the law, much more do we small humble folk run to the apostolic see to get healing from you for the sores of the churches. For it is fitting that you should in all things have pre-eminence, since your see possesses many peculiar privileges....Your city has the fullest abundance of good things from the giver of all good. For she is of all cities the greatest and most famous, the mistress of the world, and teeming with people. Besides this she has created an empire which is still predominant, and has imposed her own name upon her subjects. But her chief decoration is her faith, to which the divine apostle is a sure witness when he exclaims "Your faith is proclaimed in all the world"; and if, immediately after receiving the seeds of the saving gospel, she bore such a weight of wondrous fruit, what words are sufficient to express the piety which is now found in her? She has, too, the tombs of our common fathers and teachers of the truth, Peter and Paul, to enlighten the souls of the faithful. And this blessed and divine pair arose indeed in the East, and shed its rays in all directions, but voluntarily underwent the sunset of life in the West, from whence now they light up the whole world. These have rendered your see so glorious: this the height of your good things. For their God has made their see bright, since he has settled your holiness in it to send forth the rays of the true faith.
4....After such toils and troubles I am condemned without a hearing.
5. However, I wait for the verdict of your apostolic throne, and beg and pray your holiness to help me, when
I appeal to your right and just tribunal,
and to bid me come to you and show that my teaching follows in the apostolic track....I beseech you not to spurn my petition, nor to overlook the insults heaped upon me.
6. Before all, tell me whether I ought to acquiesce in this unrighteous deposition or not.
I await your verdict; and if you bid me abide by my condemnation, I will do so,
and will trouble no one hereafter, but await the unerring verdict of our God and Saviour....
7....I entreat your holiness...to consider my slandered position, so falsely attacked, to be worthy of your protection. Above all I beseech you to defend with all your might the faith that is now plotted against, and to keep the hereditary doctrine intact for the churches. So shall your holiness receive from the bountiful Master a full reward.
116, to Renatus the presbyter. A.D. 449.
...Twenty-six years I have been a bishop; I have undergone countless labours; I have struggled hard for the truth; I have freed tens of thousands of heretics and brought them to the Saviour, and now they have stripped me of my priesthood, and are exiling me from the city. They have no respect for my old age, or for my hairs grown grey in the truth. Wherefore I beseech your sanctity to persuade the very sacred and holy Archbishop Leo to bid me hasten to your council. For that holy see has precedence of all churches in the world, for many reasons; and above all for this, that it is
free from all taint of heresy,
and that no bishop of false opinions has ever sat upon its throne, but it has kept the grace of the apostles undefiled.
[Anglican writer] Denney argues that as Theodoret had been deposed by the patriarch of Alexandria, and as the patriarchs of Antioch and Constantinople were themselves deposed, he "naturally turned to the only remaining patriarch, him of Rome". But Theodoret says above all that he trusts the orthodoxy of the Roman see, and it is probable that he saw himself following in the footsteps of Athanasius.
Book 2. A.D. 450.
82. 996; Bagster 93.)
With these and similar arguments, they attacked the vacant mind of the emperor and persuaded him to expel Athanasius from the Church. But he, having discovered the plot, withdrew and went to the West. The Eusebians had falsely accused Athanasius to the bishop of Rome (just then Julius was shepherding that church). He therefore,
obeying the law of the Church, summoned the accusers to come to Rome, and called the devout Athanasius to trial.
And he, accepting the call, set out at once, but the false accusers, seeing that the lie would easily be detected, did not go to Rome.
LEO AFTER CHALCEDON
The 28th canon of Chalcedon (Doc. 261) figures largely in the later correspondence of Pope Leo. Our last seven Documents all refer to it...
Document 263--Council of Chalcedon,
A.D. 451. Leo,
1...."Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you." [Matt. 28:20] You have kept this command, which is like a golden cord leading down from the author of it to us. You are set as an interpreter to all of the voice of blessed Peter and to all you impart the blessings of that faith. And so we too, wisely taking you as our guide in all that is good, have shown to the sons of the Church their inheritance of the truth. We have not given our instruction singly and in secret, but with one mind and agreement we have made known the confession of the common faith. We were all delighted at the spiritual food which Christ supplied to us through your letter; we revelled in it as at an imperial banquet and we seemed to see the heavenly Bridegroom actually present with us. For if where two or three are gathered together in his name, he has said that he is in the midst of them, must he not have been much more particularly present with 520 priests who preferred to their country and their ease the spread of knowledge about him? Of all these you were the chief, as head to members, showing your goodwill in matters of organization. The faithful emperors were eager to renew the doctrinal fabric of the Church and presided for the sake of good order, just like Zerubbabel to Joshua in the matter of the temple at Jerusalem.
2. The enemy would have been like a wild beast outside the fold...if the late pontiff of the Alexandrians had not thrown himself to him for a prey....By his terror-won votes he aquitted Eutyches, who had been condemned for heresy, and restored to him the dignity which your holiness had taken away from him as unworthy of it. And, like the strangest of wild beasts, he fell upon the vine which he found in the finest condition, uprooted it, and planted that which had been cast out as unfruitful. He cut off those who acted like true shepherds, and he placed over the flocks those who had shown themselves to be wolves. Besides all this he extended his fury even against
him who had been charged with the custody of the vine by the Saviour--we refer to your holiness--
and he intended to excommunicate one who was zealous to unite the body of the Church.
4. We mention further that we have made certain other decisions also for the good management and stability of church affairs, as we are persuaded that your holiness will accept and ratify them when you are told. The long prevailing custom which the holy church of God at Constantinople had of ordaining metropolitans for the provinces of Asia, Pontus, and Thrace we have now ratified by the vote of the synod, not thereby adding anything to the see of Constantinople, but to provide for the good order of the metropolitan sees, because of the frequent disorders that arise when their bishops die....We have also ratified the canon of the 150 holy fathers who met at Constantinople...which declares that after your most holy and apostolic see, the see of Constantinople shall have privileges, being placed second; for we are persuaded that, with your usual interest, you have often extended that apostolic radiance of yours even to the church of Constantinople also. This you will increase many times by sharing your own good things ungrudgingly with your brethren. And so, deign, most holy and blessed father, to embrace as your own, and as lovable and agreeable to good order, the things we have decreed, for the removal of all confusion, and the confirmation of church order. For the legates of your holiness, the most holy bishops Paschasinus and Lucentius, and with them the godly presbyter Boniface, tried hard to resist thse decisions, wishing that this good work also should start from your foresight, so that the establishment of discipline, as well as of faith, should be credited to you. But we, regarding our most devout and Christian sovereigns, who delight therein, and the illustrious senate, and, so to say, the whole capital, recognized as fitting the confirmation of the honour by this universal council, and we confidently endorsed it, as if it were initiated by your holiness, as you have always hasten to cherish us, knowing that every success of the children redounds to the parents. We therefore beg you to honour our decision by your assent, and as we have yielded agreement to the head in noble things, so may the head also fulfil what is fitting for the children. Thus will our pious emperors be respected, who have ratified your holiness' judgement as law, and the see of Constantinople will receive its recompense for having always displayed such loyalty on matters of religion towards you, and for having so zealously linked itself to you in full agreement. But that you may know that we have done nothing for favour or in hatred, but as being guided by the divine will, we have informed you of the whole scope of our actions, to strengthen our position and to ratify and establish what we have done.
Notice four points in this letter. The Pope is the mouthpiece of Peter, and imparts Peter's faith to all (para. 1). The Pope was the head of the council of Chalcedon. His letter was spiritual food supplied by Christ (para. 1). The Pope has been charged with the care of the Church by our Lord (para. 2), and his care for others extends to Constantinople (para. 4). The papal legates resisted Canon 28, desiring that the initiative should come from the Pope, who is asked to honour the council's decision by his assent.
The emperor and the bishop of Constantinople were equally anxious that the 28th canon should receive papal approval, but the style of their writing differs from that of the council, and Anatolius gives a different reason for the resistance of the legates, namely that they did not know the Pope's mind. Both these writers deal first with the agreement reached on matters of faith, and then come to the point.
Document 264--The Emperor Marcian,
18 December 451. Leo,
3. After that, this decision was actually made, so that the resolution of the 150 most holy bishops in the time of the divine Theodosius the Elder concerning the honour of the venerable church of Constantinople, and the recent prescription of the holy synod on the same subject, should be upheld intact: namely that, after the apostolic see, the bishop of the city of Constantinople receives the second place, because the said most glorious city is called Rome the Younger. Let your holiness think fit to add personal assent also to this part, even though the most reverent bishops who met together at the holy synod as representatives of your devoutness have voted against it. For they absolutely forbad anything to be settled concerning this venerable church by the synod.
4...And we beg that your devoutness will also give instructions that those things which the holy synod has decreed be observed for ever. Other things by hand. May God preserve you for many years, most holy and devout father.