Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.: Formulary of the Council of Ariminum approved by the Acacians. List of the Deposed Chief-Priests, and the Causes of their Condemnation.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XXIV.—Formulary of the Council of Ariminum approved by the Acacians. List of the Deposed Chief-Priests, and the Causes of their Condemnation.
The partisans of Acacius 1344 remained some time at Constantinople, and invited thither several bishops of Bithynia, among whom were Maris, bishop of Chalcedon, and Ulfilas, bishop of the Goths. These prelates having assembled together, in number about fifty, they confirmed the formulary read at the council of Ariminum, adding this provision, that the terms “substance ” p. 320 and “hypostasis” should never again be used in reference to God. They also declared that all other formularies set forth in times past, as likewise those that might be compiled at any future period, should be condemned. They then deposed Aëtius from his office of deacon, because he had written works full of contention and of a species of vain knowledge opposed to the ecclesiastical vocation; because he had used in writing and in disputation several impious expressions; and because he had been the occasion of troubles and seditions in the Church. It was alleged by many that they did not depose him willingly, but merely because they wished to remove all suspicion from the mind of the emperor which he had with regard to them, for they had been accused of holding Aëtian views. Those who held these sentiments took advantage of the resentment with which, for reasons above mentioned, the emperor regarded Macedonius, and they accordingly deposed him, and likewise Eleusius, bishop of Cyzicus; Basil, bishop of Ancyra; Heortasius, bishop of Sardis; and Dracontius, bishop of Pergamus. Although they differed about doctrine from those bishops, yet in deposing them, no blame was thrown upon their faith, but charges were alleged against them in common with all, that they had disturbed the peace and violated the laws of the Church. They specified, in particular, that when the presbyter Diogenes was traveling from Alexandria to Ancyra, Basil seized his papers, and struck him; they also deposed that Basil had, without trial, delivered over many of the clergy from Antioch, from the banks of the Euphrates, and from Cilicia, Galatia, and Asia, to the rulers of the provinces, to be exiled and subjected to cruel punishments, so that many had been loaded with chains, and had been compelled to bribe the soldiers, who were conducting them away, not to ill-use them. They added that, on one occasion, when the emperor had commanded Aëtius and some of his followers to be led before Cecropius, that they might answer to him for various accusations laid to their charge, Basil recommended the person who was intrusted with the execution of this edict, to act according to the dictates of his own judgment. They said that he wrote directions to Hermogenes, 1345 the prefect and governor of Syria, stating who were to be banished, and whither they were to be sent; and that, when the exiles were recalled by the emperor, he would not consent to their return, but opposed himself to the wishes of the rulers and of the priests. They further deposed that Basil had excited the clergy of Sirimium against Germanius; and that, although he stated in writing that he had admitted Germanius, Valens, and Ursacius into communion, he had placed them as criminals before the tribunal of the African bishops; and that, when taxed with this deed, he had denied it, and perjured himself; and that, when he was afterwards convicted, he strove to justify his perjury by sophistical reasoning. They added, that he had been the cause of contention and of sedition in Illyria, Italy, Africa, and in the Roman church; that he had thrown a servant into prison to compel her to bear false witness against her mistress; that he had baptized a man of loose life, who lived in illicit intercourse with a woman, and had promoted him to be a deacon; that he had neglected to excommunicate a quack-doctor who had occasioned the death of several persons; and that he and some of the clergy had bound themselves by oath before the holy table, not to bring accusations against each other. This, they said, was an artifice adopted by the president of the clergy to shield himself from the accusations of his plaintiffs. In short, such were the reasons they specified for the deposition of Basil. Eustathius, they said, was deposed because, when a presbyter, he had been condemned, and put away from the communion of prayers by Eulalius, his own father, who was bishop of the church of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia; and also because he had been excommunicated by a council held at Neocæsarea, a city of Pontus, and deposed by Eusebius, bishop of Constantinople, for unfaithfulness in the discharge of certain duties that had devolved upon him. He had also been deprived of his bishopric by those who were convened in Gangrœ, on account of his having taught, acted, and thought contrary to sound doctrine. He had been convicted of perjury by the council of Antioch. He had likewise endeavored to reverse the decrees of those convened at Melitina; and, although he was guilty of many crimes, he had the assurance to aspire to be judge over the others, and to stigmatize them as heretics. They deposed Eleusius because he had raised inconsiderately one Heraclius, a native of Tyre, to be a deacon; this man had been a priest of Hercules at Tyre, had been accused of and tried for sorcery, and, therefore, had retired to Cyzicus and feigned conversion to Christianity; and moreover, Eleusius, after having been apprised of these circumstances, had not driven him from the Church. He had also, without inquiry, ordained certain individuals, who had come to Cyzicus, after they had been condemned by Maris, bishop of Chalcedonia, who participated in this council. Heortasius was deposed because he had been ordained bishop of Sardis without the sanction of the bishops of Lydia. They deposed Dracontius, bishop of Pergamus, because he had previously held another bishopric in Galatia, and because, they stated, he had on both occap. 321 sions been unlawfully ordained. After these transactions, a second assembly of the council was held, and Silvanus, bishop of Tarsus, Sophronius, bishop of Pompeiopolis in Paphlagonia, Elpidius, bishop of Satala, and Neonas, bishop of Seleucia in Isauria, were deposed. The reason they assigned for the deposition of Silvanus was, that he had constituted himself the leader of a foolish party in Seleucia and Constantinople; he had, besides, constituted Theophilus as president of the church of Castabala, who had been previously ordained bishop of Eleutheropolis by the bishops of Palestine, and who had promised upon oath that he would never accept any other bishopric without their permission. Sophronius was deposed on account of his avarice, and on account of his having sold some of the offerings presented to the church, for his own profit; besides, after he had received a first and second summons to appear before the council, he could, at last, be scarcely induced to make his appearance, and then, instead of replying to the accusations brought against him, he appealed to other judges. Neonas was deposed for having resorted to violence in his endeavors to procure the ordination in his own church, of Annianus, who had been appointed bishop of Antioch, 1346 and for having ordained as bishops certain individuals who had previously been engaged in politics, and who were utterly ignorant of the Holy Scriptures and of ecclesiastical canons, and who, after their ordination, preferred the enjoyment of their property to that of the priestly dignity, and declared in writing that they would rather take charge of their own possessions than to discharge the episcopal functions without them. Elpidius was deposed because he had participated in the malpractices of Basil, and had occasioned great disorders; and because he had, contrary to the decrees of the council of Melitina, restored to his former rank in the presbytery a man named Eusebius, who had been deposed for having created Nectaria a deaconess, after she had been excommunicated on account of violating agreements and oaths; and to confer this honor upon her was clearly contrary to the laws of the Church.
The acts of this Synod of Constantinople were written by Acacius. Cf. Philost. iv. 12. Further, cf. Philost. iv. 12, v. 1; Athan. de Synodis, 30, the formulary; Soc. ii. 41 (with the revised formulary), 42, 43; Theodoret, H. E. ii. 27, 28. Soz. enlarges on the depositions, giving us much new material; Theodoret gives a letter against Aetius (from Sabinus?).320:1345
Further mention is made of this Hermogenes by Am. Marcell. xix. 12, 6; xxi. 6, 9.321:1346
Cf. iv. 22.
Next: Causes of the Deposition of Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem. Mutual Dissensions among the Bishops. Melitius is ordained by the Arians, and supplants Eustathius in the Bishopric of Sebaste.
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