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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.: The Bishop of Rome writes to the Bishops of the East in Favor of Athanasius, and they send an Embassy to Rome who, with the Bishop of Rome, are to investigate the Charges against the Eastern Bishops; this Deputation is dismissed by Constans, the Cæsar.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter X.—The Bishop of Rome writes to the Bishops of the East in Favor of Athanasius, and they send an Embassy to Rome who, with the Bishop of Rome, are to investigate the Charges against the Eastern Bishops; this Deputation is dismissed by Constans, the Cæsar.

The bishops of Egypt, 1242 having sent a declaration in writing that these allegations were false, and Julius having been apprised that Athanasius was far from being in safety in Egypt, sent for him to his own city. 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 their epistle, 1243 and accused them of having clandestinely introduced innovations p. 289 contrary to the dogmas of the Nicene council, and of having violated the laws of the Church, by neglecting to invite him to join their Synod; for he alleged that there is a sacerdotal canon which declares that whatever is enacted contrary to the judgment of the bishop of Rome is null. He also reproached them for having deviated from justice in all their proceedings against Athanasius, both at Tyre and Mareotis, and stated that the decrees enacted at the former city had been annulled, on account of the calumny concerning the hand of Arsenius, and at the latter city, on account of the absence of Athanasius. Last of all he reprehended the arrogant style of their epistle.

Julius was induced by all these reasons to undertake the defense of Athanasius and of Paul: the latter had arrived in Italy not long previously, and had lamented bitterly these calamities. When Julius perceived that what he had written to those who held the sacerdotal dignity in the East was of no avail, he made the matter known to Constans the emperor. Accordingly, Constans wrote to his brother Constantius, requesting him to send some of the bishops of the East, that they might assign a reason for the edicts of deposition which they had passed. Three bishops were selected for this purpose; namely, Narcissus, bishop of Irenopolis, in Cilicia; Theodore, bishop of Heraclea, in Thrace; and Mark, bishop of Arethusa, in Syria. On their arrival in Italy, they strove to justify their actions and to persuade the emperor that the sentence passed by the Eastern Synod was just. Being required to produce a statement of their belief, they concealed the formulary they had drawn up at Antioch, and presented another written confession 1244 which was equally at variance with the doctrines approved at Nicæa. Constans perceived that they had unjustly entrapped both Paul and Athanasius, and had ejected them from communion, not for charges against his conduct, as the depositions held, but simply on account of differences in doctrine; and he accordingly dismissed the deputation without giving any credit to the representations for which they had come.


Footnotes

288:1242

Athan. Apol. cont. Arian. 3–19.

288:1243

Id. 20–35, 36; Soc. ii. 17, 18. Soz. gives more points. Soc. accuses Sabinus of omitting the Julian letters.

289:1244

Athan. de Synodis, 25, and given in full by Soc. ii. 18.


Next: The Long Formulary and the Enactments issued by the Synod of Sardica. Julius, Bishop of Rome, and Hosius, the Spanish Bishop, deposed by the Bishops of the East, because they held Communion with Athanasius and the Rest.

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