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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book V, Letter 19

Book V, Letter 19

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To Sabinianus, Deacon.

Gregory to Sabinianus, etc.

In the cause of our brother the most reverend John, bishop of Constantinople, I have been unwilling to write two letters. But one I have drawn up briefly, which may seem to combine both requisites; that is to say, both honesty and kindness.

Let therefore your Love take care to give him this letter which I have now addressed to him in compliance with the wish of the Emperor. For in the sequel another will be sent him such as his pride will not rejoice in. For he has come even to this; that, taking occasion of the case of John the presbyter, he transmitted hither the acts, wherein almost in every line he called himself οἰκουμενικὸν (œcumenical) patriarch. But I hope in Almighty God that the Supernal Majesty will confound his hypocrisy. But I wonder how he could so deceive your Love as that you should allow the lord Emperor to be persuaded to write to me himself concerning this matter, admonishing me to have peace with him. For, if the lord Emperor wishes to observe justice, he ought to have admonished him to refrain from the proud title, and then at once there would be peace between us. I suspect, however, that you have not all considered with what cunningness this has been done by our aforesaid brother John. For it is for this purpose that he has done it; that the lord Emperor might be obeyed, and so he himself might seem to be confirmed in his vanity, or that I might not obey him, and so his mind might be irritated against me. But we will keep to the right way, fearing nothing in this cause except the Almighty Lord. Wherefore let your Love be in nothing afraid. All things that you see to be lofty in this world against the truth in behalf of the truth despise; trust in the grace of Almighty God, and the help of the blessed Apostle Peter. Remember the voice of the Truth, which says, Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world 1 John 4:4; and in this cause whatever has to be done, do it with the utmost authority. For now that we can in no way be protected from the swords of our enemies, now that for love of the republic we have lost silver, gold, slaves and clothing, it is too ignominious that through those men we should lose even the faith. For to assent to that atrocious title is nothing else than to lose the faith. Wherefore, as I have written to you already in former letters, never do thou presume to proceed with him.

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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. <>.

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