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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Grace of Christ, and...: Chapter 10

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 10 [IX.]—The Judgment of Innocent Respecting the Proceedings in Palestine.

Five bishops, then, of whom I was one, wrote him a letter, 1939 wherein we mentioned the proceedings in Palestine, of which the report had already reached us. We informed him that in the East, where this man lived, there had taken place certain ecclesiastical proceedings, in which he was thought to have been acquitted on all the charges. To this communication from us Innocent replied in a letter which contains the following among other words: “There are,” says he, “sundry positions, as stated in these very Proceedings, which, when they were objected against him, he partly suppressed by avoiding them, and partly confused in absolute obscurity, by wresting the sense of many words; whilst there are other allegations which he cleared off,—not, indeed, in the honest way which he might seem at the time to use, but rather by methods of sophistry, meeting some of the objections with a flat denial, and tampering with others by a fallacious interpretation. Would, however, that he would even now adopt what is the far more desirable course of turning from his own error back to the true ways of catholic faith; that he would also, duly considering God’s daily grace, and acknowledging the help thereof, be willing and desirous to appear, amidst the approbation of all men, to be truly corrected by the method of open conviction,—not, indeed, by judicial process, but by a hearty conversion to the catholic faith. We are therefore unable either to approve of or to blame their proceedings at that trial; for we cannot tell whether the proceedings were true, or even, if true, whether they do not really show that the man escaped by subterfuge, rather than that he cleared himself by entire truth.” 1940 You see clearly from these words, how that the most blessed Pope Innocent without doubt speaks of this man as of one who was by no means unknown to him. You see what opinion he entertained about his acquittal. You see, moreover, what his successor the holy Pope Zosimus was bound to recollect,—as in truth he did,—so as to confirm without hesitation the judgment of his predecessor in this case.



Epistle 177, in the collection of Augustin’s letters.


Innocent’s letter occurs amongst the epistles of Augustin, letter 183. 3, 4.

Next: Chapter 11