About this time a serious contest was excited at Antioch in Syria, on account of Melitius. We have already observed 688 that Paulinus, bishop of that city, because of his eminent piety was not sent into exile: and that Melitius after being restored by Julian, was again banished by Valens, and at length recalled in Gratians reign. 689 On his return to Antioch, he found Paulinus greatly enfeebled by old age; his partisans therefore immediately used their utmost endeavors to get him associated with that bishop in the episcopal office. And when Paulinus declared that it was contrary to the canons 690 to take as a coadjutor one who had been ordained by the Arians, the people had recourse to violence, and caused him to be consecrated in one of the churches without the city. When this was done, a great disturbance arose; but afterwards the people were brought to unite on the following stipulations. Having assembled such of the clergy as might be considered worthy candidates for the bishopric, they found them six in number, of whom Flavian was one. All these they bound by an oath, not to use any effort to get themselves ordained, when either p. 120 of the two bishops should die, but to permit the survivor to retain undisturbed possession of the see of the deceased. 691 Thus pledges were given, and the people had peace and so no longer quarreled with one another. The Luciferians, 692 however, separated themselves from the rest, because Melitius who had been ordained by the Arians was admitted to the episcopate. In this state of the Antiochian church, Melitius was under the necessity of going to Constantinople.
In its eighth canon the Council of Nicæa, looking forward to the reconciliation of such Novatians or Cathari as might desire to return to the Catholic Church, enjoins that when in villages or in cities there are found only clergy of their own sect (Cathari), the oldest of these clerics shall remain among the clergy, and in their position; but if a Catholic priest or bishop be found among them, it is evident that the bishop of the Catholic Church should preserve the episcopal dignity whilst any one who has received the title of bishop from the so-called Cathari would only have a right to the honors accorded to priests, unless the bishop thinks it right to let him enjoy the honor of the title. If he does not desire to do so let him give him the place of rural bishop (chorepiscopus) or priest, in order that he may appear to be altogether a part of the clergy, and that there may not be two bishops in the same city. Cf. Hefele, Hist. of the Councils, Vol. I. p. 410; Bingham, Christ. Antiq. II. 13. 1 and 2.120:691
Theodoret (H. E. V. 3) gives a different account of the way in which the dispute between Melitius and Paulinus came to an end, giving the glory to Melitius for the eirenic overture above described, and representing Paulinus as constrained to accept it against his will by the political head of the community.120:692
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