Fathers of the Church
Epistle XXVII: to Januarius, Bishop
by Gregory the Great in 590-604 | translated by James Barmby, D.d
Gregory to Januarius, Bishop of Caralis (Cagliari).
Thy Fraternity ought indeed to have been so attentive to pious duties as to be in no need at all of our admonitions to induce thee to fulfil them: yet, as certain particulars that require correction have come to our knowledge, there is nothing incongruous in your having besides a letter addressed to you bearing our authority.
Wherefore we apprize you that we have been given to understand that it has been the custom for the Guest- houses (Xenodochia) constituted in the parts about Caralis to submit their accounts in detail from time to time to the bishop of the city; that is, so as to be governed under his guardianship and care.
Now, as thy Charity is said to have so far neglected this, we exhort, as has been said, that the inmates who are or have been established in these Guest-houses submit their accounts in detail from time to time. And let such persons be ordained to preside over them as may be found most worthy in life, manners and industry, and at any rate religiosi , whom judges may have no power of annoying, lest, if they should be such as could be summoned to the courts, occasion might be given for wasting the feeble resources which they have: concerning which resources we wish thee to take the greatest care, so that they be given away to no one without thy knowledge, lest the carelessness of thy Fraternity should go so far as to let them be plundered.
Moreover, thou knowest that the bearer of these presents, Epiphanius the presbyter, was criminally accused in the letters of certain Sardinians. We, then, having investigated his case as it was our will to do, and finding no proof of what was charged against him, have absolved him, so that he might be restored to his place. We therefore desire thee to search out the authors of the charge against him: and, unless he who sent those same letters be prepared to support his charges by canonical and most strict proofs, let him on no account approach the mystery of holy communion.
Further, as to Paul the cleric, who is said to have been often detected in malpractices, and who had fled into Africa, having returned to a lay state of life in despite of his cloth, if it is so, we have seen to his being given up to penance after previous corporal punishment, to the end that, according to the apostolic sentence, by means of affliction of the flesh the spirit may be saved, and also that he may be able to wash away with continual tears the earthly filth of sin, which he is said to have contracted By wicked works.
Moreover, in accordance with the injunctions of the canons, let no religious person (religiosus) associate with those who have been suspended from ecclesiastical communion.
Further, for ordinations or marriages of clerics, or from virgins who are veiled, let no one presume to receive any fee, unless they should prefer to offer something of their own accord.
As to what should be done in the case of women who have left monasteries for a lay life, and have taken husbands, we have conversed at length with thy Fraternity's aforesaid presbyter, from whose report your Holiness may be more fully informed.
Further, let religious clerics (religiosi clerici) avoid resort to or the patronage of laymen; but let them be in all respects subject to thy jurisdiction according to the canons, lest through the remissness of thy Fraternity the discipline of the Church over which thou presidest should be dissolved.
Lastly, as to the men who have sinned with the aforesaid women who had left their monasteries, and are said to be now suspended from communion, if thy Fraternity should observe them to have repented worthily for such a wickedness, we will that thou restore them to holy communion.
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.