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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book VI, Letter 66

Book VI, Letter 66

To Athanasius, Presbyter.

Gregory to Athanasius, Presbyter of Isauria.

As we are afflicted and mourn for those whom the error of heretical pravity has cut off from the unity of the Church, so we rejoice with those whom their profession of the Catholic faith retains within her bosom. And, as it is our duty to oppose the impiety of the former with pastoral solicitude, so it is fitting for us to bestow favour on the pious professions of the latter, and to declare their views to be sound. And accordingly, a suspicion of unsoundness in the faith having arisen against you, Athanasius, presbyter of the monastery of Saint Mile, called Tamnacus, which is established in the province of Lycaonia, you, in order that the integrity of the profession of faith might appear, elected to have recourse to the Apostolical See over which we preside, asserting also that, having been corporally chastised, you had done some things unjustly and impetuously. And, although things done under compulsion by no means fall under the censure of the canons, and they are rightly accounted to be of no weight (since he himself invalidates them who compels what is unjust to be confessed and done), and though that confession is rather to be received and embraced which is shown to proceed from the spontaneous will, as is known to be the case in that which you made before us—yet still, to avoid the possibility of uncertainty, we took the precaution of writing about you to our brother and fellow bishop, the prelate of the city of Constantinople, that he might inform us by letter of what had been done. He, after being often admonished by us, wrote in reply to the effect that a volume had been found in your possession, which contained many heretical statements, and that on this account he had been incensed against you. He having lent this to us in his desire to satisfy us, we read the earlier portions of it attentively: and inasmuch as we found in it manifest poison of heretical pravity, we forbade its being read any more. But, since you have assured us that you had read it in simplicity, and, in order to cut off all ground for uncertain suspicion, hast handed to us a paper in your own handwriting in which expounding your faith, you have most plainly condemned all heresies in general, or whatever is opposed to the integrity of the Catholic faith or profession, and hast declared that you had always received and still received all that the four holy Ecumenical synods receive, and had condemned and still condemned what they condemn, and hast promised also to accept and hold to that synod which was held in the times of the emperor Justinian concerning the Three Chapters, and, being forbidden by us to read that same volume in which the poison of pestiferous error is interwoven, rejecting also and condemning all that in it is said or latently implied against the integrity of the Catholic faith, you have promised that you will not read it again—we, moved by these reasons (your faith also having clearly appeared to us from the paper under your own hand, God guarding you, to be Catholic), decree you to be, according to your profession, free from all stain of heretical perversity, and Catholic; and we pronounce that you have proved yourself, by the grace of Christ Jesus our Saviour to be in all things a professor and follower of the unadulterated faith: and we give you free licence, notwithstanding all, to return to your monastery, resuming your place and rank.

We wish to write also on this matter to our most beloved brother, the prelate of the city of Constantinople, who has been ordained in the place of the aforesaid holy John. But, since it is the custom that we should not write before his synodical epistle has reached us, we have therefore delayed. But, after it has reached us, we will inform him of these things when we find a convenient opportunity.

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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/360206066.htm>.

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