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Fathers of the Church

Letter LXVIII: to Meletius, Bishop of Antioch


A continuation of Basil's correspondence regarding the dispute between Meltius and Paulinus as to who was the rightful bishop of Antioch. (See also Letters LXVI and LXVII.)


Basil's main concern was the unity of the Church. The almost total lack of unity among the Christians in the East and West caused him to enlist the patronage of Athanasius in his attempt to establish better relations between Rome and the Orient. He was convinced that orthodoxy could succeed only if there were no dissensions and no waste of strength among the believers. Unfortunately, one obstacle stood out prominently in the way of the desired harmony between East and West, namely, the dispute of Paulinus and Meletius as to which of the two was the rightful bishop of Antioch. Basil's appeal to Athanasius and to Rome for the healing of this schism was rejected, mainly because the hierarchy of the West was opposed to Meletius whom he favored, and recognized Paulinus. (Quasten)

by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A

I WISHED to detain the reverend brother Dorotheus, the deacon, so long at my side, with the object of keeping him until the end of the negociations, and so by him acquainting your excellency with every detail. But day after day went by; the delay was becoming protracted; now, the moment that some plan, so far as is possible in my difficulties, has occurred to me concerning the course to be taken, I send him to approach your holiness, to make a personal report to you on all the circumstances, and show you my memorandum, to the end that, if what has occurred to me seems to you to be likely to be of service, your excellency may urge on its accomplishment. To be brief, the opinion has prevailed that it is best for this our brother Dorotheus to travel to Rome, to move some of the Italians to undertake a voyage by sea to visit us, that they may avoid all who would put difficulties in their way. My reason for this course is that I see that those, who are all powerful with the Emperor, are neither willing nor able to make any suggestion to him about the exiled, but only count it so much to the good that they see no worse thing befalling the Churches. If, then, my plan seems good also to your prudence, you will be good enough both to indite letters and dictate memoranda as to the points on which he must enlarge, and as to whom he had better address himself. And so that your despatches may have weight and authority, you will add all those who share your sentiments, even though they are not on the spot. Here all is uncertain; Euippius has arrived, but so far has made no sign. However, he and those who think with him from the Armenian Tetrapolis and Cilicia are threatening a tumultuous meeting.

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. (PNPF II/VIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.

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