Letter Against Pelagius by Pope St. Innocent I

The following are some extracts from a letter by Pope St. Innocent I in which he rejects the heretic Pelagius and his errors. The extracts are translated by two different authors, which I have pieced together. I am not aware of a complete English translation of this letter, but these extracts seem to preserve the most significant portions of the Latin original.

Letter Against Pelagius by Pope St. Innocent I

... 3. We cannot persuade ourselves that [Pelagius] has been acquitted, though some laymen have brought certain Acts, by which he pretends to have been absolved. But we doubt the authenticity of these Acts, as they were not communicated to us by the Council, and as we have not received one single letter from those who took part in it. For if Pelagius had been sure of his justification he certainly would not have failed to oblige his judges to send us an account of it. And even according to the Acts themselves, he was not distinctly justified; but rather wholly employed himself in seeking out evasions, and endeavouring to confuse the investigation: for which reason we can neither approve nor censure this sentence.

4. If Pelagius pretends that he has nothing to fear, it is not our business to send for him, but rather his to haste hither, and get himself acquitted. If he still entertains the same sentiments, let him receive never so many letters, he will never venture to expose himself to our judgment; and if he ought to be sent for, this ought rather to be done by those who are nearer.

5. We have read through the book, said to be written by him, which you sent us, and have found in it many propositions against the grace of God, many blasphemies, nothing that pleased us, and scarcely any thing but what displeased us, and ought to be rejected by all men.


There are sundry positions, as stated in these very Proceedings, which, when they were objected against him, he partly suppressed by avoiding them, and partly confused in absolute obscurity, by wresting the sense of many words; while there are other allegations which he cleared off—not, indeed, in the honest way which he might seem at the time to use, but rather by methods of sophistry, meeting some of the objections with a flat denial, and tampering with others by a fallacious interpretation.

Would, however, that he would even now adopt what is the far more desirable course of turning from his own error back to the true ways of catholic faith; that he would also, duly considering God's daily grace, and acknowledging the help thereof, be willing and desirous to appear, amidst the approbation of all men, to be truly corrected by the method of open conviction—not, indeed, by judicial process, but by a hearty conversion to the catholic faith.

We are therefore unable either to approve of or to blame their proceedings at that trial; for we cannot tell whether the proceedings were true, or even, if true, whether they do not really show that the man escaped by subterfuge, rather than that he cleared himself by entire truth.

Sources: https://books.google.com/books?id=6FsAAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA284#v=onepage&q&f=false
And: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/15062.htm

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