Fathers of the Church
Epistle XLIX: to Januarius, Archbishop
by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d
Gregory to Januarius, archbishop of Caralis (Cagliari).
If with integrity of heart we consider the priestly office which we administer, the concord of personal charity ought so to unite us with our sons that, as we are fathers in name, so we should be proved by our affection to be so in deed. While, then, we ought to be such as has been said above, we wonder why such a mass of complaints has arisen against thy Fraternity. We still indeed hesitate to believe it: but, that we may be able to ascertain the truth, we have sent to your parts John the notary of our See, supported by our injunction, who may compel all parties to abide the judgment of chosen arbitrators, and by his own execution carry their judgments into effect. Wherefore we exhort thy Fraternity by this present writing to consider well with thyself beforehand the merits of the cases; and, if you find that you have taken or hold anything unjustly, in consideration of your priesthood to restore it before trial.
Now, among numerous complaints, the most distinguished Isidore has complained of having been excommunicated and anathematised by thy Fraternity for invalid reasons. And, when we had wished to learn from one of thy clergy who was here for what cause this had been done, he gave us to understand that it had been done for no other cause than that the man had done thee an injury. This distresses us exceedingly; since, if it is so, thou shewest that thou dost not think of heavenly things, but givest signs of having thy conversation among things of earth, having brought to bear the malediction of anathema to avenge a private wrong; which is a thing forbidden by the sacred rules. Wherefore for the future be thoroughly circumspect and careful, and presume not to inflict any such penalty again for vindication of thine own wrongs. For, shouldest thou do anything of the kind, know that it will afterwards be avenged on thyself.
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.