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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book XI, Letter 37

Book XI, Letter 37

To Romanus, Guardian (Defensorem).

Gregory to Romanus, Guardian of Sicily .

It has come to our knowledge that, if any one has a suit against any clerics, you cause these clerics to be brought before you for judgment, setting at nought their bishops. If this be so, seeing that it is evidently very unsuitable, we order you by this our authority that you presume not to do it any more. But, if any one should have a suit against any cleric, let him go to his bishop, that either he may take cognizance himself, or at any rate that judges may be deputed by him; or, if it should be a case for arbitration, let the executive authority deputed by him compel the parties to choose a judge. But, if any cleric or lay person should have a suit against a bishop, then you ought to interpose, so that either you yourself may take cognizance of the matter between them or that on your admonition they may choose for themselves judges. For, if each single bishop has not his own jurisdiction reserved to him, what else is done but that ecclesiastical order is confounded through us by whom it ought to be guarded?

Further, it has been reported to us that, certain clerics having been sent into penance for fault requiring it by our most reverend brother bishop John, you have on your own authority, without his knowledge removed them from it. Now, if this is true, know that you have done a thing altogether unseemly, and calling for no light reproof. Wherefore restore these clerics without delay to their bishop. And beware of committing this fault in future: for, should you be inattentive, know that you will incur our anger in no slight degree.

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Source. Translated by James Barmby. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 13. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1898.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/360211037.htm>.

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