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NPNF-213. Gregory the Great (II), Ephraim Syrus, Aphrahat
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Epistle XXVI.

To Anthemius, Subdeacon.

Gregory to Anthemius, Subdeacon of Campania.

It has reached our ears that our brother and fellow-bishop Paschasius214214    Bishop of Naples.  A few epistles not included in this translation are addressed to him as such. is so idle and negligent in all ways that he is in no respect recognised as bishop; and that so neither his own Church, nor the monasteries, nor any, whether the sons of the Church215215    Filii ecclesiæ, or, according to the authority of mss., simply filii.  Cf. III. 56, where the expression occurs.  It is understood to denote the lay members of any Church, among whom those of the highest social position were called nobiles (see below), and others plebs.  Mandates for the election of bishops are addressed to clero, nobilibus, ordini, et plebi (as in II. 6), or to clero ordini, et plebi (as in I. 58), or occasionally clero et nobilibus (as in I. 80); ordo being understood to denote persons of position, though not ranking as nobles., or the oppressed poor, are conscious of any earnestness of love on his part towards them; nor does he afford any help in what is just to those who supplicate him, and (what is a still more serious thing to say) he cannot bear on any account to receive the counsels of the wise and of such as admire what is right, so that he might at any rate learn from another what he cannot attend to of himself; but, passing over the things that pertain to a pastor’s charge, he occupies himself with his whole attention unprofitably in the building of ships.  Whence, as is reported, it has come to pass that he has already lost four hundred solidi, or more.  This also is added to his faults, that he is said to go down daily to the sea with one or two clerics in so mean a guise as to be the talk among his own people, and to scent to strangers so vile and despicable that he is judged to have nothing in him of the character or venerableness of a bishop.  If this be so, know that it is not without fault of thine, who hast delayed to rebuke and restrain him, as is fit.  Seeing, then, that all this not only discredits him, but also evidently brings reproach on the office of the priesthood, we desire thee to summon him for this thing before other priests216216    i.e. bishops, as commonly meant by sacerdotos., or some of his noble sons217217    See above, note 5., and exhort him that, shaking off the vice of sluggishness, he be not idle, but vigilant in the care of his Church and of the monasteries, exhibit fatherly charity to his sons, stand up for the defence of the poor with discretion in cases that are commended by justice, and receive gladly the counsels of the wise, to the end that both that city may be comforted by his solicitude, and he himself succeed in covering the faults of his idleness.  If however, as we do not believe will be the case, after this our exhortation he should venture to be negligent after his accustomed manner, he must by all means be sent to us, that in our presence he may learn what it becomes a priest to do, and how to do it, after the fear of God.  Given in the month of March, Indiction 6.


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