Letter to the Church of Constantinople by Pope St. Innocent I

The following letter comes from Pope St. Innocent I. Sozomen indicates that it was written to express the pope's solidarity with St. John Chrysostom, who was being persecuted by men in Constantinople. The letter is preserved in Sozomen Church History Book 8 Chapter 26. I've segmented the text into smaller paragraphs and numbered them to make this letter easier to cite.

Pope St. Innocent I - To the Church of Constantinople

1. Innocent, the bishop, to the presbyters, deacons, and all the clergy, and to the people of the church of Constantinople under John, the bishop, greeting to you, beloved brethren.

2. From the letters of your love that you forwarded to me through Germanus, the presbyter, and Cassianus, the deacon, I have learned, with anxious solicitude, the scenes of evil which you have placed before our eyes. I have frequently seen during its repeated reading with what calamities and labors the faith is wearied. Only the consolation of patience heals such a state of affairs. Our God will shortly put an end to such tribulations, and they will eventually tend to your profit.

3. But we recognized with approbation your proposition, placed at the beginning of the letter of your love; to wit, that this very consolation is necessary, and embraces many proofs of your patience; for our consolation, which we ought to have conveyed, you have anticipated in your epistle.

4. Our Lord is wont to furnish this patience to the suffering, in order that when they fall into tribulations, the servants of Christ may encourage themselves; for they should reason within themselves that what they suffer has happened previously to the saints.

5. And even we ourselves derive comfort from your letters, for we are not strangers to your sufferings; but we are disciplined in you.

6. Who, indeed, can endure to witness the errors introduced by those who were bound especially to be enthusiasts for the quiet of peace and for its concord? But far from maintaining peace, they expel guiltless priests from the front seat of their own churches.

7. John, our brother and fellow-minister and your bishop, has been the first to suffer this unjust treatment without being allowed a hearing. No accusation was brought, none was heard. What proposition was it that was nullified, so that no show of judgment might arise or be sought?

8. Others were seated in the places of living priests, as though any who began from such discord would be able to possess anything or do anything rightly in any one's judgment. We have never known such audacities to have been done by our fathers. They rather prohibited such innovations by refusing to give power to any one to be ordained in another's place while the occupant was living, since he is unable to be a bishop who is unjustly substituted.

9. With respect to the observance of canons, we declare that those defined at Nicæa are alone entitled to the obedience and recognition of the Catholic Church. If any individuals should attempt to introduce other canons, at variance with those of Nicæa, and such as are a compilation by heretics, such canons ought to be rejected by the Catholic Church, for it is not lawful to add the inventions of heretics to the Catholic canons. For they always wish to belittle the decision of the Nicene fathers through opponents and lawless men.

10. We say, then, that the canons we have censured are not only to be disregarded, but to be condemned with the dogmas of heretics and schismatics, even as they have been formerly condemned at the council of Sardica by the bishops who were our predecessors. For it would be better, O most honored brethren, that these transactions be condemned, than that any actions should be confirmed contrary to the canons.

11. What measures ought we to adopt now in the present circumstances against such deeds? It is necessary that there be a synodical investigation, and a synod we long ago said should be gathered. There are no other means of arresting the fury of the tempest. In order that we may attain this it will be profitable meanwhile for that healing to be exalted which comes by the will of the great God and of His Christ, our Lord. We shall thus behold the cessation of all the woes which have been excited by the envy of the devil, and which have served as trials for our faith.

12. If we remain steadfast in the faith, there is nothing that we ought not to expect from the Lord. We are constantly watching for the opportunity of convening an œcumenical council, whereby, in accordance with the will of God, an end may be put to these harassing commotions. Let us, then, endure in the interval, and, fortified by the wall of patience, let us trust in the help of our God for the restoration of all things.

13. We had previously been made acquainted with all that you have related concerning your trials, by our fellow bishops Demetrius, Cyriacus, Eulysius, and Palladius, who visited Rome at different periods and are now with us; from them we had learned all the details by a complete inquiry.

Source: http://newadvent.org/fathers/26028.htm

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