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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book II, Letter 18

Book II, Letter 18

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To Natalis, Bishop of Salona.

Gregory to Natalis, etc.

I have learned, dearest brother, from many who have come from your city that, neglecting your pastoral charge, you occupy yourself wholly in feastings: which report I should not have believed had not my own experience of your conduct confirmed it. For that you in no wise art intent on reading, in no wise give attention to exhortation, but art even ignorant of the very use and purpose of ecclesiastical order, there is this in evidence, that you know not how to observe reverence to those who are put over you. For, when you had been forbidden in writing by our predecessor of holy memory to retain in your heart the soreness of your long displeasure against Honoratus your archdeacon, and when this had been positively interdicted you by myself also, you, disregarding the commands of God, and setting at naught our letters, attempted by a cunning device to degrade the aforesaid Honoratus your archdeacon under color of promoting him to a higher dignity. Thus it was contrived that, he being removed from the post of archdeacon, you might call in another who would have fallen in with your manner of life, the aforesaid man having, as I think, displeased you for no other cause but that he prevented you from giving sacred vessels and vestments to your relations. Which case both I now, and my predecessor of holy memory formerly, have wished to subject to an accurate investigation; but you, being conscious of what you had done, hast put off sending hither a representative instructed for trial of the case. Wherefore let your Fraternity, even after admonition so often repeated, repent of the error of your wrongdoing, and restore the aforesaid Honoratus to his post immediately on the receipt of my letter. Which if you should defer doing, know that the use of the pallium, granted you by this See, is taken from you. But if, even when you have lost the pallium, you still persist in your contumacy, know that you are deprived of participation of the body and blood of the Lord. And after this it will be needful for us to enquire more fully into the charges against you, and to consider with the utmost care and investigation whether you should retain even your episcopate. Him also who, against the rule of justice, has consented to be promoted to the place of another we depose from the dignity of the said archdeaconry. And, should he presume any longer to minister in this same office, let him know that he is deprived of participation in holy communion. Do thou, therefore, dearest brother, in no wise provoke us further, lest, having set us at naught when in an attitude of charity towards you, you should find us very hard in our severity. Having, therefore, restored the archdeacon Honoratus to his place, send to us with speed a person instructed in the case, who may be able to show to me by his allegations how the matter should be equitably proceeded with. For we have commanded the said archdeacon to come to us, that, having heard the assertions of the parties, we may come to whatever decision may be just and well-pleasing to Almighty God. For we defend no one on the ground of personal love, but, God helping us, keep the rule of justice, putting aside respect to any man's person.

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Source. Translated by James Barmby. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

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