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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book III, Letter 45

Book III, Letter 45

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To Andrew, Bishop.

Gregory to Andrew, Bishop of Taranto.

A man may look without alarm to the tribunal of the eternal Judge, if only, conscious of his own guilt, he strives to pacify Him by befitting penitence. Now that you had a concubine we find to be manifestly true, with regard to whom also an adverse suspicion has arisen in the minds of some. But, since in doubtful cases judgment ought not to be absolute, we have chosen to leave the matter to your own conscience. If, then, after being constituted in sacred orders you remember having been defiled by carnal intercourse, you must resign the dignity of priesthood, nor presume by any means to approach its ministration, knowing that you will administer it to the peril of your soul, and without doubt have to render an account to our God, if, being conscious of this crime, you should desire to continue in the order wherein you are, concealing the truth. Wherefore we again exhort you that, if you know yourself to have been deceived by the craft of the ancient foe, thou hasten to overcome him, while you may, by adequate penitence, lest, as we hope may not be, thou be reckoned as partner with him in the day of judgment. If, however, you are not conscious of this guilt, you must needs continue in the order wherein you are.

Furthermore, since, against due order, you doomed a woman on the Church-roll to be cruelly beaten with cudgels, although we do not think that she died eight months afterwards, yet, because you have had no regard to your order, we therefore sentence you to abstain for two months from the administration of mass. Meanwhile, being suspended from your office, it will become you to weep for what you have done. For it is very right that, now that the examples of praiseworthy priests do not provoke you to the tranquil rectitude befitting your position, at any rate the medicine of correction should compel you.

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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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