Fathers of the Church
Letter XXIII: to Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople
by Leo the Great in 449 | translated by Charles Lett Feltoe, M.A
To his well-beloved brother Flavian the bishop, Leo the bishop.
I. He complains that Flavian has not sent him a full account of Eutyches' case.
Seeing that our most Christian and merciful Emperor, in his holy and praiseworthy faith and anxiety for the peace of the Catholic Church, has sent us a letter upon the matters which have roused the din of disturbance among you, we wonder, brother, that you have been able to keep silence to us upon the scandal that has been caused, and that you did not rather take measures for our being at once informed by your own report, that we might not have any doubt about the truth of the case. For we have received a document from the presbyter Eutyches, who complains that on the accusation of bishop Eusebius he has been wrongfully deprived of communion, notwithstanding that he says he attended your summons and did not refuse his presence: and moreover asserts that he presented a deed of appeal in the very court, which was however not accepted: whereupon he was forced to put forth letters of defence in the city of Constantinople. Pending which matter we do not yet know with what justice he has been separated from the communion of the Church. But having regard to the importance of the matter, we wish to know the reason of your action and to have the whole thing brought to our knowledge: for we, who desire the judgments of the LORD'S priests to be deliberate, cannot without information decide one way or another, until we have all the proceedings accurately before us.
II. And now demands it.
And therefore, brother, signify to us in a full account by the hand of the most fit and competent person, what innovation has arisen against the ancient faith, which needed to be corrected by so severe a sentence. For both the moderation of the Church and the devout faith of our most godly prince insist upon our showing much anxiety for the peace of Christendom: that dissensions may be cleared away and the Catholic Faith kept unimpaired, and that those whose faith has been proved may be fortified by our authority, when those who maintain what is wrong have been recalled from their error. And no difficulty can arise on this side, since the said presbyter has professed himself by his own statement, ready to be corrected if anything be found in him worthy of rebuke. For it beseems us in such matters to take every precaution that charity be kept and the Truth defended without the din of strife. And therefore because you see, beloved, that we are anxious about so great a matter, hasten to inform us of everything in as full and clear a manner as possible (for this ought to have been done before), lest in the cross-statements of both sides we be misled by some uncertainty, and the dissension, which ought to be stifled in its infancy, be fostered for our heart is impressed by GOD'S inspiration with the need of saving from violation by anyone's misinterpretation those constitutions of the venerable fathers which have received Divine ratification and belong to the groundwork of the Faith. GOD keep thee safe, dear brother. Dated 18 February , in the consulship of the illustrious Asturius and Protogenes.
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/XII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.