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Home > Fathers of the Church > Registrum Epistolarum (Gregory the Great) > Book XI, Letter 77

Book XI, Letter 77

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To Boniface, Guardian (Defensorem), in Corsica.

Gregory to Boniface, etc.

Your experience is not free from blame, in that, knowing Aleria and Adjacium, cities of Corsica, to have been long without bishops, you have delayed admonishing their clergy and people to choose for themselves priests. But, since they ought to be no longer without rulers of their own, hasten, on receiving this authority, to exhort the clergy and people of these cities severally, that they disagree not among themselves, but that each city with one consent choose for itself a priest to be consecrated. And, when they have made their decree, let such person as shall have been elected come to us. But, if they should be unwilling to come to an unanimous decision, being divided in their choice between two persons, let both in like manner come to us, the decree having been made in the usual way, that, after enquiry made into their lives and characters, the one who may appear to be most fit may be ordained. Seeing, moreover, that many poor persons there are said to be oppressed and to suffer prejudice, let your Experience give heed to this, and not allow them to be unjustly aggrieved; but so endeavour yourself that neither they who take action be unreasonably hindered nor those against whom action is taken be in danger of sustaining damage unjustly.

Furthermore, it has reached our ears that some of the clergy, you being on the spot, are held in custody by laymen. If this is so, know that the blame will be imputed to you, since, if you were a man, it would not have been the case. And accordingly you must needs pay attention in future so that you permit not the like to be done; but that, if any one should have a cause of complaint against a clerk, he resort to his bishop. And, if perchance the latter should be suspected, a commissioner must be deputed by him — or, if this too should be objected to by the plaintiff, by your Experience — who may compel the parties to choose arbitrators by mutual consent. And whatever may be decided by them, let it be in all ways so carried out, with due observance of law, by your own or the bishop's care, that there may be no occasion for them to weary themselves with disputes.

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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. <>.

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