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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book IV, Letter 20

Book IV, Letter 20

To Maximus, Pretender (Præsumptorem).

Gregory to Maximus, Pretender in Salona.

Though the merits of any one's life were in other respects such as to offer no impediment to his ordination to priestly offices, yet the crime of canvassing in itself is condemned by the severest strictness of the canons. Now we have been informed that thou, having either obtained surreptitiously, or pretended, an order from the most pious princes, hast forced your way to the order of priesthood , which is of all men to be venerated, while being in your life unworthy. And this without any hesitation we believed, inasmuch as your life and age are not unknown to us, and further, because we are not ignorant of the mind of our most serene lord the Emperor, in that he is not accustomed to mix himself up in the causes of priests, lest he should in any way be burdened by our sins. An unheard-of wickedness is also spoken of; that, even after our interdiction, which was pronounced under pain of excommunication of you and those who should ordain you, it is said that you were brought forward by a military force, and that presbyters, deacons, and other clergy were beaten. Which proceeding we can in no wise call a consecration, since it was celebrated by excommunicated men. Since, therefore, without any precedent, you have violated such and so great a dignity, namely that of the priesthood, we enjoin that, until I shall have ascertained from the letters of our lords or of our responsalis, that you were ordained under a true and not a surreptitious order, you and your ordainers by no means presume to handle anything connected with the priestly office, and that you approach not the service of the holy altar till you have heard from us again. But, if you should presume to act in contravention of this order, be anathema from God and from the blessed Peter, Prince of the apostles, that your punishment may afford an example to other Catholic churches also, through their contemplation of the judgment upon you. The month of May, Indiction 12.

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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. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/360204020.htm>.

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