Fathers of the Church

Epistle XXXII: to All the Bishops of the Council of Bizacium

Description

This epistle is from Book XII of the Register of the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great. Here Gregory orders the bishops to investigate charges made against their primate, Crementius.

Provenance

St. Gregory (b. 540 in Rome) was elected pope at the age of 50, serving from 590 to 604. In 14 years he accomplished much for the Church. England owes her conversion to him. At a period when the invasion of the barbarian Lombards created a new situation in Europe, he played a great part in winning them for Christ. At the same time, he watched equally over the holiness of the clergy and the maintenance of Church discipline, the temporal interests of his people of Rome and the spiritual interests of all Christendom. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade the taking of money for many services, and emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and victims of plague and famine. Gregory also reformed the liturgy, and it still contains several of his most beautiful prayers. The name "Gregorian chant" recalls this great Pope's work in the development of the Church's music. His commentaries on Holy Scripture exercised a considerable influence on Christian thought in the Middle Ages. Following his death in 604, his numerous epistles, including the following letter, were compiled into the Papal Register of Letters.

by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d

Gregory to all, &c.

As it is laudable and discreet to shew due reverence and honour to superiors, so it belongs to rectitude and the fear of God, if anything in them needs correction, not to put it off by any connivance, lest disease should begin to invade the whole body (which God forbid), sickness not being cured in the head. Now a considerable time ago certain things were reported to us about our brother Crementius, your primate, such as to pierce our heart with no slight sorrow. But through the pressure of divers tribulations, and especially from enemies raging round us, we had not time to into the matter. And, since it is so that it ought by no means to be passed over without investigation, we hereby exhort your Fraternity with all carefulness and activity to search out in all ways the substantial truth, in order that either if these things are so, they may be cut off by canonical punishment, or, if they are false, the innocence of our brother may not long lie under the laceration of an infamous report. Wherefore, that there may be no torpor of idleness in the enquiry, we admonish you that neither the interest nor the favour nor the cajoleries of any person whatever, nor anything else, soften any one of you in your sifting of what has been reported to us, or shake you from the path of truth; but gird ye yourselves in priestly wise to investigate the truth. For, if any one should presume to be sluggish, or to shew himself negligent in this matter, let him know that he will be a par-taker in the said crimes before Almighty God, by zeal for whom he is not moved to enquire fully into the causes of atrocious wickedness.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/XIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.