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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book II, Letter 37

Book II, Letter 37

To John, Bishop of Squillacium (Squillace, in Calabria).

Gregory to John, etc.

The care of our pastoral office warns us to appoint for bereaved churches bishops of their own, who may govern the Lord's flock with pastoral solicitude. Accordingly we have held it necessary to appoint you, John, bishop of the civitas Lissitana (Lissus, hodie, Alessio?), which has been captured by the enemy, to be cardinal in the Church of Squillacium, that you may carry on the cure of souls once undertaken by you, having regard to future retribution. And although, being driven from your own Church by the invading enemy, you must govern another Church which is now without a shepherd, yet it must be on condition that, in case of the former city being set free from the enemy, and under the protection of God restored to its former state, thou return to the Church in which you were first ordained. If, however, the aforesaid city continues to suffer under the calamity of captivity, you must remain in this Church wherein you are by us incardinated. Moreover, we enjoin you never to make unlawful ordinations, or allow any bigamist, or one who has taken a wife who was not a virgin, or one ignorant of letters, or one maimed in any part of his body, or a penitent, or one liable to any condition of service, to attain to sacred orders. And, should you find any of this kind, you must not dare to advance them. Africans generally, and unknown strangers, applying for ecclesiastical orders, on no account accept seeing that some Africans are Manichæans, and some have been rebaptized; while many strangers, though being in minor orders, are proved to have pretended to a higher dignity. We also admonish your Fraternity to watch wisely over the souls committed to you, and to be more intent on winning souls than on the profits of the present life. Be diligent in keeping and disposing of the goods of the Church, that the coming Judge, when He comes to judge, may approve you as having in all respects worthily executed the office of shepherd which you have taken upon you.

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Source. Translated by James Barmby. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/360202037.htm>.

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