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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters (Theodoret) > Letter 153

Letter 153

Report of the same to the Empresses Pulcheria and Eudoxia.

We had expected to be able to report to your pious majesties in different terms, but we are now compelled to make known to you the following facts, forced as we are by the irregular exercise of despotic power by Cyril of Alexandria and Memnon of Ephesus. The proper course to have been pursued, in accordance with the laws of the Church, and the command of your pious majesties, would have been to wait for the arrival of the godly bishops on the road, and in common with them to examine into the questions at issue concerning the true faith, and investigate the point offered for discussion, and, after exact enquiry, to confirm the doctrines of the apostles. They had written to me that they would wait for our arrival. They heard that we were only three stages off. Then they assembled an unconstitutional council by themselves, and have ventured on proceedings iniquitous, irregular, and bristling with absurdities. And this they have done though the most honourable count Candidianus, sent by your pious and Christian majesties for good order's sake, expressly charged them, alike in writing and by word of mouth, to wait for the arrival of the godly bishops who had been convened, and to attempt no innovation on the true faith, but to take their stand on the directions of our godly-minded sovereigns. Now in spite of their having heard the imperial letter and the advice of the most honourable count Candidianus, they have nevertheless made naught of due order. As the prophet says They hatch cockatrice' eggs, and weave the spider's web; and he that would eat of their eggs when he breaks them finds rottenness, and therein is a viper, Wherefore we confidently cry Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works.

They have shut the churches and the martyrs' shrines; they have forbidden the celebration of the holy feast of Pentecost; besides this they have sent the minions of their disorderly despotism into bishops' private houses, uttering shocking threats, and forcing them to affix their signatures to illegal acts. We therefore considering all their preposterous conduct, have deposed the aforenamed Cyril and Memnon, and deprived them of their episcopate. Their associates in irregularity, whether influenced by sycophancy or by fear, we have excommunicated, until, coming to a knowledge of their own wounds, they shall heartily repent, shall anathematize the heretical Chapters of Cyril, which are tainted with the heresy of Apollinarius, Arius, and Eunomius, shall recover the faith of the Fathers in Council at Nicæa, and, in obedience to the pious commands of our Christian sovereigns, shall, peacefully and without any tumult, assemble in synod, be willing to examine with care the questions submitted to them, and honestly protect the purity of the faith of the Gospel.

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Source. Translated by Blomfield Jackson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2707153.htm>.

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