Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume XIV/The Fourth Ecumenical Council/Extracts from the Acts 1
Extracts from the Acts.
(Labbe and Cossart, Concilia, Tom. IV., col. 93.)
Paschasinus, the most reverend bishop and legate of the Apostolic See, stood up in the midst with his most reverend colleagues and said: We received directions at the hands of the most blessed and apostolic bishop of the Roman city, which is the head of all the churches, which directions say that Dioscorus is not to be allowed a seat in this assembly, but that if he should attempt to take his seat he is to be cast out. This instruction we must carry out; if now your holiness so commands let him be expelled or else we leave.
The most glorious judges and the full senate said: What special charge do you prefer against the most reverend bishop Dioscorus?
Paschasinus, the most reverend bishop and legate of the Apostolic See, said: Since he has come, it is necessary that objection be made to him.
The most glorious judges and the whole senate said: In accordance with what has been said, let the charge under which he lies, be specifically made.
Lucentius, the most reverend bishop having the place of the Apostolic See, said: Let him give a reason for his judgment. For he undertook to give sentence against one over whom he had no jurisdiction. And he dared to hold a synod without the authority of the Apostolic See, a thing which had never taken place nor can take place.
Paschasinus the most reverend bishop, holding the place of the Apostolic See, said: We cannot go counter to the decrees of the most blessed and apostolic bishop [“Pope” for “bishop” in the Latin], who governs the Apostolic See, nor against the ecclesiastical canons nor the patristic traditions.
The most glorious judges and the full senate, said: It is proper that you should set forth specifically in what he hath gone astray.
Lucentius, the venerable bishop and holding the place of the Apostolic See, said: We will not suffer so great a wrong to be done us and you, as that he who is come to be judged should sit down [as one to give judgment].
The glorious judges and the whole senate said: If you hold the office of judge, you ought not to defend yourself as if you were to be judged.
And when Dioscorus the most religious bishop of Alexandria at the bidding of the most glorious judges and of the sacred assembly (τῆς ἱερᾶς συγκλήτου) had sat down in the midst, and the most reverend Roman bishops also had sat down in their proper places, and kept silence, Eusebius, the most reverend bishop of the city of Dorylæum, stepping into the midst, said:
[He then presented a petition, and the Acts of the Latrocinium were read. Also the Acts of the council of Constantinople under Flavian against Eutyches (col. 175).]
And when they were read, the most glorious judges and immense assembly (ὑπερφυὴς σύγκλητος) said: What do the most reverend bishops of the present holy synod say? When he thus expounded the faith did Flavian, of holy memory, preserve the orthodox and catholic religion, or did he in any respect err concerning it?
Paschasinus the most reverend bishop, representing the Apostolic See, said; Flavian of blessed memory hath most holily and perfectly expounded the faith. His faith and exposition agrees with the epistle of the most blessed and apostolic man, the bishop of Rome.
Anatolius the most reverend archbishop of Constantinople said; The blessed Flavian hath beautifully and orthodoxly set forth the faith of our fathers.
Lucentius, the most reverend bishop, and legate of the Apostolic See, said; Since the faith of Flavian of blessed memory agrees with the Apostolic See and the tradition of the fathers it is just that the sentence by which he was condemned by the heretics should be turned back upon them by this most holy synod.
Maximus the most reverend bishop of Antioch in Syria, said: Archbishop Flavian of blessed memory hath set forth the faith orthodoxly and in accordance with the most beloved-of-God and most holy Archbishop Leo. And this we all receive with zeal.
Thalassius, the most reverend bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia said; Flavian of blessed memory hath spoken in accordance with Cyril of blessed memory.
[And so, one after another, the bishops expressed their opinions. The reading of the acts of the Council of Constantinople was then continued.]
And at this point of the reading, Dioscorus, the most reverend Archbishop of Alexandria said, I receive “the of two;” “the two” I do not receive (τὸ ἐκ δύο δέχομαι· τὸ δύο, οὐ δέχομαι). I am forced to be impudent, but the matter is one which touches my soul.
[After a few remarks the reading was continued and the rest of the acts of the Latrocinium of Ephesus completed. The judges then postponed to the morrow the setting forth a decree on the faith but intimated that Dioscorus and his associates should suffer the punishment to which they unjustly sentenced Flavian. This met with the approval of all the bishops except those of Illyrica who said: “We all have erred, let us all be pardoned.” (col. 323.) ]
The most glorious judges and the whole senate said; Let each one of the most reverend bishops of the present synod, hasten to set forth how he believes, writing without any fear, but placing the fear of God before his eyes; knowing that our most divine and pious lord believes according to the ecthesis of the three hundred and eighteen holy fathers at Nice, and according to the ecthesis of the one hundred and fifty after them, and according to the Canonical epistles and ectheses of the holy fathers Gregory, Basil, Athanasius, Hilary, Ambrose, and according to the two canonical epistles of Cyril, which were confirmed and published in the first Council of Ephesus, nor does he in any point depart from the faith of the same. For the most reverend archbishop of Old Rome, Leo, appears to have sent a letter to Flavian of blessed memory, with reference to Eutyches’s unbelieving doubt which was springing up against the Catholic Church.
End of the first Actio.
- This whole paragraph reads with material differences in the Latin. Moreover while the Greek text is clear and grammatical, the Latin is most incorrect and halting. Leo is described as “Pope of the city of Rome,” instead of “bishop of Rome.”
- This statement, so absolutely contrary to fact, has been a sore difficulty to the commentators. Arendt (Leo the Great and his Times, § 270) says that this meant only that “he had, without permission of the Pope, taken the presidency there, and conducted the proceedings, for Leo himself had acknowledged the synod by the fact that he allowed his legates to be present at it.” Almost the same is the explanation of the Ballerini (Leo M. Opera, Tom. ii. 460, n. 15.)
- The Latin here has the usual form “amplissimus senatus,” for which the Greek is περιφανέστατοι συγκλητικοὶ.