A. St. Leger Westall, “The Fathers Gave Rome the Primacy”, The Dublin Review, CXXXII (January-April 1903), pp. 101-114.
The famous xxviii. Canon of Chalcedon has been for many centuries a favourite authority among all those who, whether in the East or in England, are anxious to find support in primitive times for their rejection of the Petrine prerogatives of the Holy See. To a serious student of history, however, it seems an act of no small temerity in an opponent of the Papal claims to appeal to any episode in the history of this Council, for at no period of the Church’s existence is the universal recognition of the Pope’s supremacy more clear. The correspondence of St. Leo with St. Flavian, with the heretic Eutyches, with the Eastern and Western Emperors, and the Empress Pulcheria; the famous letter of St. Peter Chrysologus to Eutyches, the letters of St. Leo to the Council, the attitude of his legates there, the enthusiastic reception by the Council of his epistle to Flavian, the terms of the sentence of deposition on the Alexandrian Patriarch Dioscorus, the Acta of the Council, and its conciliar letters to Pope Leo and the Emperor Marcian, with the correspondence that followed – all these form a testimony to the universal belief in the jus divinum of the Papal supremacy so overwhelming in its force, that it is a matter of amazement that any candid mind should entertain a doubt as to the sentiments of the Church in that age.
But though we have all this, yet, in the opinion of Anglican writers, we ought “to think we have nothing when we see Mardochai the Jew sitting before the King’s gate” – when, that is, the xxviii. canon of the Council tells another story. Even those writers who admit that the canon, having been rejected by the West, has no legal validity as an Ecumenical law, appeal to its as evidence that, in the opinion of a large assembly of bishops, the ecclesiastical pre-eminence of Rome was due only to her secular greatness; and further, that Pope Leo himself, while rejecting the canon, did not deny this assertion. “The Fathers,” says the canon, “properly gave the primacy (hoi pateres eikotes apodedokasi ta presbeia) to the throne of the elder Rome because that was the Imperial City.” The Papal primacy, it is argued, is here based merely upon ecclesiastical consent, and is due to the civil greatness of the capital. This contention has been overthrown, times out of number, by Catholic writers who have shown without difficulty, from the documents already mentioned, how clearly expressed was the belief of the Council in the Petrine prerogatives of the Pope. Even so sturdy an Anglican as the late Canon Bright readily admits (Hist. Ch., p. 414) that “the Council repeatedly refers to the connection of Rome with St. Peter,” and that “the civil greatness of Rome was only one cause of her ecclesiastical precedency.”
It appears to the present writer that, whatever arriere pensee may have been in the minds of Anatolius, the Archbishop of Constantinople, and some of the courtier-bishops who were concerned with him in drawing up the canon, it was most certainly intended to bear an acceptable interpretation to the Pope, St. Leo. Everything depended on their being able to secure his assent to the canon – this they themselves declare – and it is, therefore, certain that they would not have done anything which must inevitably defeat their purpose. Viewed in this light, it is highly significant that the idea expressed in the famous sentence, “hoi pateres apodedokasi k.t.l.,” and to some extent even the wording of that sentence, is that of the Pope St. Leo himself. Shortly and somewhat vaguely it conveyed the Pope’s own well-known teaching as expounded by him in language of great eloquence and beauty a short time before the meeting of the Council. The sentence, therefore, is not only patient of a Catholic interpretation, but, when all the circumstances of the case are considered, could not have been intended by its authors to suggest anything else to the mind of the Pope.
Before dealing with this point, a brief statement of the difficulties attending any other interpretation of this part of the canon is necessary.
The usual Anglican and Greek Orthodox interpretation of the canon is that the Roman primacy was the gift either of the Nicene Fathers or the Fathers generally, and was a matter of mere ecclesiastical arrangement, and not, as Rome teaches, an inheritance from St. Peter. To this view there are four main objections, each one of which appears to be fatal, and in the cumulative force are so beyond all contradiction. First, the statement, thus interpreted is historically false. Secondly, it expressly contradicts the other explicit statements of the council, and renders its letter to Leo absolutely meaningless. Thirdly, the authors of the canon would have defeated their own purpose, for they would have knowingly and wilfully made it impossible for the Pope to ratify the canon, and their success depended, as they themselves assert, on gaining his assent. Fourthly, it makes the attitude of the Pope towards the canon inexplicable. Although one of the strongest champions of the Petrine claims of his see that history can produce, he betrays from the first to last no consciousness that this crucial statement affected, or was meant to affect, the privileges of his chair as the “Cathedra Petri.”
It is impossible within the limits of a short essay to elaborate the argument. It must suffice to illustrate the objections just recited if we indicate briefly the reasons which support them, and which appear to make a Catholic interpretation of the famous words of the canon the only one that does not directly conflict with the admitted facts of the case.
The Council committed itself in precise and definite terms to the belief that the Pope was the inheritor of the privileges of St. Peter, and head of the Church by Divine right. Passing by the well-known and significant cry of the assembled Fathers on hearing the Pope’s letter to Flavian, “Peter hath spoken by Leo (dia Leontos),” let us turn to the sentence of deposition pronounced by the Papal legate on Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, and subscribed by every bishop at the council: “Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, Archbishop of the great and elder Rome, by us (his legates) and this present most holy Council (di himon kai tes parouses hagiotates sunodou), in union with the thrice-blessed and all-honoured apostle Peter, who is the Rock and support (petra kai krepis) of the Catholic Church and the foundation (ho themelios) of the orthodox faith, has deprived (egumnosen, Leon being the subject) him of his episcopate, etc.” We are reminded of the preamble of an English Act of Parliament: “Be it enacted by the King’s most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent” of his Parliament.
Again, in the Council’s letter to Leo (we quote the Latin version since Leo himself, being unfamiliar with Greek, probably used the Latin copy), the Pope is termed “vocis beati Petri omnibus constitutus interpres” – “appointed for all men the interpreter of the voice of Blessed Peter”; once more, “ipsum cui vineae custodia a Salvatore commissa est” – “the very one to whom the care of the vine has been committed by the Saviour” (a clear declaration of the jus divinum); “te qui corpus ecclesiae unire festinas” (spoudazo is the Greek verb). He has presided over the council as “head over the members”; he is its “caput” (kephale) and “summitas” (koryphe) – “head and crown.” He is “sanctissime et beatissimae Pater,” not “frater” as the two Anglican archbishops, differing from a General Council, thought fit to term the thirteenth Leo. They definitely give a Catholic rendering to the canon by telling the Pope that the canon means “post vestram sanctissimam et apostolicam sedem primatum habere Constantinopolitanam sedem, quae secunda est ordinata” – “that the see of Constantinople shall have the primacy after your most holy and Apostolic See, and is constituted the second.” The letter of the same Council to the Eastern Emperor Marcian is equally significant; he and the Empress are exhorted to support the Council, assembled at their instance, “in strongly asserting the teaching of the See of Peter” (tes Petrou kathedras bebaiountes to kerygma). This must suffice in regard to the Council’s belief in the Petrine prerogatives of the Pope, for to give a complete idea of the strength of the argument would require the transcription of the entire documents. The words of the canon, therefore, cannot be interpreted by any reasonable critic as contradicting these solemn and categorical statements.
Secondly, the canon was drawn up not as an independent act of the bishops, but for the very purpose of gaining the Pope’s acceptance, which was most earnestly and respectfully solicited. They have given this honour to Constantinople, so they tell the Pope, “as proceeding first of all from your Holiness, knowing that all the good that happens to children is set down to the account of their parents. As we have left the decision to the head (kephale, caput), let the head (koryphe, summitas) do its part to the children … In order that you may know that we have done nothing for the sake of favouritism or enmity, but by divine guidance, we have, in proof of our sincerity, left the entire force of our acts to you for your confirmation and acceptance” (”ut autem sciatis quia nihil gratiae causa aut offensionis effecimus, sed nutu divino gubernati, omnem vobis gestorum vim insinuavimus, ad comprobationem nostrae sinceritatis, et ad eorum quae a nobis gesta sunt firmitatem et consonantiam”). The bishops could not possibly have addressed the Pope in these terms if the canon had possessed in their estimation an anti-Petrine significance. They knew that they were addressing the strongest, most clear-sighted, and most uncompromising man then in the world, and they could not have expected him to give the assent they desiderated to words which in any way conflicted with his most cherished convictions. Furthermore, Anatolius, the occupant of the See of Constantinople, was so eager to induce the Pope to confirm the canon, that he wrote a letter to Leo, in addition to the conciliar letter, in which he said that “the Apostolic throne has for a long time cared for the throne of Constantinople and has granted it undrudging assistance of its own,” “that the See of Constantinople has for its father your own Apostolic See,” and that “the Council and himself had sent him that decree for his assent and confirmation (synainesin kai bebaioteta).”
Thirdly, not only was the canon drawn up for the Pope’s acceptance, but his ratification was absolutely necessary. This is proved both by the passages already cited and by the subsequent history. The Council, the Emperor Marcian, and Anatolius all implore the Pope to assent to the canon. Anatolius, in a subsequent letter, submits to the Pope’s refusal, and once more observed “that the whole force and confirmation of what was done had been reserved for the authority of His Holiness,” (”gestorum vis omnis et confirmatio auctoritati vestrae beatitudinis reservata”). Assuredly the Pope was not intended to read in the words a meaning which would have rendered his consent impossible.
The most significant and important point of all is that the Pope St. Leo himself saw no attack on the Privilegia Petri in the canon. The principle on which the bishops based the canon did come under his notice; for amongst the many reasons he gave for rejecting it was this, that the See of Constantinople ought not to deprive Alexandria and Antioch of their place as second and third sees, because it was not an Apostolic foundation and they were. The See of Alexandria, he tells Anatolius, cannot be stripped of the dignity which it had received on account of Mark, the disciple of Peter, notwithstanding the apostacy of Dioscorus; nor could Antioch, where Peter preached and where the Christian name first arose, lose its rank as third. And yet in none of his letters, in which he recites the many objections to the “innovation,” does he take any exception to the words which assert that his own See of Rome owed its rank to the secular greatness of the city: “Etenim sedi senioris Romae” (or, “throno antiquae Romae“) “propter Imperium civitatis illius” (or, “quod privilegia tribuerunt” (reddiderunt) – so run the Latin versions of these oft-quoted words. “Leo himself,” says the late Canon Bright, who failed to perceive the immense significance of the admission, “was content to denounce it, not on account of St. Peter’s prerogatives, but in the name of the Council of Nicaea.” And the late Canon Carter, a leading Anglican authority, also says: “Rome did not oppose the decree as derogatory to herself.” These admissions appear to concede our point, which is that the decree neither denied nor was intended to deny the Petrine privilege of the Holy See, and that therefore it did not and could not mean that the Pope’s position was based merely on ecclesiastical consent.
No one can doubt that Leo would have denounced the canon with uncompromising rigour as an attack on the Apostle himself, had he detected in it any assault on the Apostle himself, had he detected in it any assault on the Apostolic origin of the headship bequeathed to the See of Rome. As he have already noticed, the Pope did object to the infringement of the Petrine prerogatives of Alexandria and Antioch. Yet he does not censure the words in which the canon speaks of the privileges of Rome. The only possible inference is that the Pope understood the words, and was meant to understand them as conveying the same meaning as his own recent utterance: that is, the sermon (1 in Natal. Petri et Pauli) preached by him not long before the Council met.
In this celebrated discourse the Pope had made the same statement as the canon, and in very similar terms. In fact, the entire sermon was devoted to the theme that Rome had been chosen by her Fathers and founders to be the Head See of the Church because she was the Imperial City; and the famous sentence of the canon would have made an admirable text for the Pope’s own sermon. There are some interesting parallels in this sermon to the actual language of the canon, but the point on which we lay especial stress is the identity of thought. “Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostolic Order, received for his lot the citadel of the Roman Empire (arcem Romani imperii), that the light of the Truth, which was being revealed for the salvation of all nations, might be shed more efficaciously through the whole body of the world from its head (efficacius se ab ipso capite per totum mundi corpus effunderet).” The reason given in this passage from the Pope’s sermon is the reason given in the canon: Peter received Rome for his lot because it was the head of the world. “Rome, which was the mistress of error, has become the disciple of the Truth.” The same thought is brought out with much eleoquence of beauty of language in that part of the sermon which is read as the Fifth Lection in the Second Nocturn of June 29th in the Roman Breviary. It begins: “Isti (sc. Petrus et Paulus) sunt Patres tui et veri pastores,” and contrasts the two Apostles with the brothers Romulus and Remus, the “patres et pastores” of secular Rome. “These are thy fathers and true pastors,” exclaims the Pope, “who by planting thee in the heavenly realms founded thee under much better and happier auspices” than the twin brothers. “These are they who have raised thee to this glory (qui te ad hanc gloriam provexerunt), that being made by the Holy See of Blessed Peter, the head of the world, as a holy nation, an elect people, a sacerdotal and royal city, thou mightest rule more widely by divine religion than with an earthly sway. For though, increased by many victories, thou hast extended thy empire by land and sea, nevertheless, it is a smaller realm that the toil of war has subdued to thee, than that which has been made thy subject by the Christian peace.”
The resemblance of the famous words of the canon to this majestic utterance is so remarkable that they may be called a concise summary of it. The parallels are very striking; and though we will not press them too far, we may fairly place them side by side, and declare that the author of the sermon might well refrain from objection to the words of the canon.
|St. Leo.||The “Canon” of Chalcedon.|
|Isti sunt Patres tui||Patres|
|te ad hanc gloriam provexerunt||privilegia reddiderunt|
|multis aucta victoriis jus Imperii tui
terra marique protuleris.
|propter Imperium Civitatis.|
Again, “It was especially befitting to the divine work,” continues the Pope, “that many kingdoms should be united in one empire (ut multa regna tuo confoederarentur imperio) and that the rule of a single city (regimen unius civitatis) should open up vast populations to the rapid and universal proclamation of the Truth.” This city, whose dominion was well-nigh universal, was the slave of error; it was, therefore, the spot where error should be overthrown. Hither, therefore, came Peter, hither came Paul; “and,” concludes the Pope, “while we commemorate all the saints, we must rightly rejoice with greater exultation in the excellence of these Fathers” (in horum excellentia Patrum merito est exsultantius gloriandum) whom God has so advanced “as to make them like the light of the two eyes in that Body, the Head of which is Christ.” It matters little what part of this wonderful sermon we read. Throughout it the main thought, the theme of the Pope is that the two Apostles (and especially St. Peter) “gave Rome the primacy because she was the Imperial City.”
It is interesting to note that St. Leo applies to the two Apostles the term “Patres” used in the canon. We do not mean that the hagioi pateres of the first sentence in the canon and the hoi pateres of the sentence under discussion may be therefore defined to mean Peter and Paul, and nobody else. As we shall see later on, it certainly includes them; and, indeed, it may be more than a mere accident that the word used thus twice over in the canon, once in the nominative and once in the genitive, should have been previously used twice over in the Pope’s sermon, in the same connection and in the same two cases. We do not press this unduly, as we have no liking for over-refinements in such an argument. We do say, however, that when so many parallelisms occur in the language of two different authorities, dealing with the subject from entirely different standpoints, and when one of those authorities is especially desirous of conciliating the other, a suspicion naturally arises that it is more than a mere coincidence. But while the standpoints are different, the identity of thought is beyond question.
In this connection, it is worthy while to remember that Julian, Bishop of Cos, the Pope’s resident at Constantinople, was certainly an authority on the Pope’s sentiments, and may not unreasonably be supposed to have possessed a copy of the sermon. The Festival was a great event in Rome, all the bishops of Italy being invited, and Leo’s commissary must certainly have learned all that went on. Julian was won over by the party of Anatolius to support their appeal to the Pope to ratify the canon. We venture to conjecture – for of course this is conjecture – that this may account for the remarkable resemblance of phraseology which we have noticed. Certainly it shows that Julian too saw no attack in the canon upon St. Leo’s teaching and the immemorial tradition of the Roman Church.
We must, therefore, interpret the hoi pateres, Patres, of the canon to mean the Apostles and their successors; the Apostles as the original donors, their successors as bearing witness to what was handed down. This is no forced interpretation, for the expression is often used in this sense, and has a right to be considered on its own merits, apart from the important fact that an interpretation of the words of the canon which does not include the Apostles is impossible on independent grounds. St. Leo himself very frequently uses the word in the sense we have indicated. “The rule observed carefully by our Fathers,” he writes to Dioscorus, meaning, as he explains, the rule made by Peter and handed down by his successors. “The authority of custom which we know comes down from the Apostles’ teaching,” he says in the same letter. “The traditions of the Fathers,” paternal traditions, he calls them in his letter to the bishops of the Council of Chalcedon; “what has become fixed in our custom as derived from the form of paternal tradition;” “the rules of the Fathers” (regulae, or, constituta Patrum); all these expressions mean one thing to the Pope, namely, that which was deposited in the Church by the Apostles and has been handed down by those who took their place.
But this is a quite common usage. “The institutions of the Church as they are handed down from the Blessed Apostles,” says Innocent I. “The Apostle Peter has handed down in his successors that which he himself received,” says Sixtus III. “You maintain the institutions of the Fathers,” says Innocent to the Numidian bishops, “and will not suffer to be trodden down what they decreed not of their own will as men, but by that of God.” “Not such are the statutes of Paul, not so have the Fathers handed down to us … For what we have received from the holy Apostle Peter I also declare to you,” says Julius I in his celebrated letter to the Eusebian bishops. And the words “constituta, decreta, definitiones, traditiones Patrum,” hoi horoi ton pateron, usually mean in antiquity a living tradition deposited in the Church by the Apostles and handed down with jealous care by their successors. If used with reference to particular Fathers, the limitation is invariably indicated, e.g. “constituta quae per singulas Synodos a Sanctis Patribus constituta sunt” in Canon I of this very Council, which refers to all previous conciliar decrees; “regulae sanctorum Patrum quae apud Nicaeam convenerunt” says St. Leo. “Traditio Patrum” (hoi horoi ton pateron) is a parallel expression in antiquity to “Fides Patrum” (he pistis ton pateron), and, like the latter, means “derived from, taught, or deposited by the Apostles and handed down.” When, therefore, the term “The Fathers” was used in a precise sense, a limiting phrase was added; otherwise it was used in the wide sense we have indicated.
That the words in the canon may be thus interpreted has often been pointed out. We contend that they must be; or else that they refer to St. Peter and St. Paul only. In short, we contend that a sense acceptable to the Pope must have been intended by Anatolius and his friends. To sum up: the usual interpretation of the words of the canon, adopted by opponents of the Papacy, is that “the Fathers” in question are the Nicene Fathers. This may be summarily dismissed. First, these venerable bishops are frequently mentioned by the council itself, and always with the limiting clause, e.g. “The 318 Fathers,” “The Fathers who assembled at Nicaea.” Secondly, the Papal legates attacked the canon, the day after it was signed by the remnant of the Council, on the express ground that it overthrew the Nicene Canon, and no one denied their assertion. Thirdly, the Pope refused his assent to the canon on the same ground. Fourthly, the statement that the Nicene Fathers gave Rome the primacy is historically false. Fifthly, the Pope would have denounced such a statement in no ambiguous terms. Instead of securing his assent the canon would have been looked upon as a deliberate insult to the Holy See.
The words are also sometimes interpreted to mean “The Fathers” in our sense of the term – the great post-apostolic teachers, and that the primacy of Rome was a matter simply of ecclesiastical consent, due to her being the Imperial capital. The objections to this interpretation are fatal. First, as we have seen, the phrase (as excluding the Apostles) is unusual without a limiting clause. He pistis ton pateron, does not exclude the Apostles, but means “having its origin in the Apostles and handed down.” But it is unnecessary to labour this point. Secondly, as we have also pointed out, the council expressly refers to the Pope as representative of St. Peter and guardian of the Church by Divine right. It cannot have intended to contradict its own belief. Thirdly, the Petrine origin of the Holy See and its consequent primacy was an open and notorious fact. Fourthly, the teaching of Leo (whose ratification was essential) on this subject was notorious. Fifthly, unless one is moved by an over-mastering prejudice, it is quite impossible to conceive that Leo the Great would have passed over, without protest or comment, an assertion that the prerogatives of his See were derived from a mere general consent, which might conceivably be revoked.
But if we admit that the famous sentence, on which so much stress has been laid by the opponents of the Papacy, was a concise and excellent summary of the Pope’s own eloquent words on the same subject, all these difficulties, which are otherwise insuperable, at once disappear. The argument of Anatolius and his supporters is then seen to be one which the Pope might very possibly be induced to admit, especially as it had the warm concurrence of the two Catholic rulers, Marcian and Pulcheria. “Peter and Paul gave Rome the primacy, as all confess, because it was the Imperial city. A ‘new Rome’ has been begotten, possessing all the claims of ‘the elder Rome'; it sorely needs a special jurisdiction for the peace of the East, and is a natural centre as her parent has been. The successor of Peter and Paul may well follow their example by conceding similar privileges to the daughter. The 150 Fathers of A.D. 381 merely followed apostolic and immemorial tradition when they assigned the second place to Constantinople ‘because it was the new Rome,’ and, therefore, in a sense, one with the elder Rome.” It is worth noticing that a later patriarch of Constantinople signed the Formula of Pope Hormisdas, at the Fourth Council of Constantinople in A.D. 869, on the ground that his See was one with the See of old Rome. This formula committed the council in question to the doctrine of Papal supremacy as derived from Peter in the most explicit terms.
The object of Constantinople was to be acknowledged, as it were, a part of the See of Rome, of which it was a reproduction, possessing similar privileges, and second only to her. “For,” says Anatolius to the Pope, “your Apostolic throne is the parent of that of Constantinople,” which is, therefore, its “alter ego” for the East. Such was the thought. This idea, from the point of view of the Imperial Court, was a brilliant one, and the words of the canon which enshrined it were chosen with a skill worthy of the acute diplomatists of the Eastern capital. They need not present any difficulty to the Pope, resembling, as they did, his own statements, and conveying apparently his own thought. They avoided, very happily, an express mention of the Apostles, since that would injure the parallel they wished to draw in favour of Constantinople; but they would be understood by the Pope and the West to include them, more especially in the light of the many statements of the council as to the Papal descent from Peter. Very possibly there were extreme partisans who in their own minds saw that a meaning less satisfactory to the Holy See might be drawn from the canon, once it was accepted and put in force. The part of the Church from which it emanated had within a hundred and twenty years denied successively the Eternal Generation of Christ, the Divine Personality of the Son of Man, and the reality of His human nature. It would hardly be remarkable if there were men who were prepared to deny the privilege of Peter, whenever the time should be ripe, for “the disciple is not above his master.” But the time was not yet come.
The interpretation we have sketched is, as it were, a key which unlocks the mind of the council and of Leo. The proof that it is the true key is that it can be turned, and than an intelligible meaning is thereby opened. The rival interpretations are as keys that will not turn: they meet with obstacles which they cannot pass – they do not fit the lock. But the former possesses over them these not inconsiderable advantages, that it contradicts no utterance of the council and they do; this is not irreconcilable with the immemorial tradition of the Church, and they are; it accounts for the absence of any objection on St. Leo’s part to these particular words; it gives a good reason why he should entertain no objection to the words in themselves; it is inconsistent with no established fact of history; and no other interpretation will harmonise with the language used towards the Pope in the letters in which his assent is entreated.
It is a most certain fact of history that Peter and Paul did give Rome the primacy – “the place in which the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul continually sit in judgment,” says the Council of Arles eleven years before Nicaea – and also that they gave it to Rome “because it was the Imperial City,” and that St. Leo himself devoted an entire sermon on the great Festival of these Apostles to the reassertion of this immemorial and unquestioned tradition, and that no one had ever said otherwise. These things being so, we are unable to see how any reasonable critic can draw any other conclusion than ours, unless he is driven to do so by the unkind necessities of his position. The attitude of the Pope towards the canon as a whole, not only in what he does not say, but also in what he does, appears to confirm the validity of our argument. He does not deny the assertion regarding the reasons which actuated “the Fathers,” but in respect to Alexandria and Antioch he denies the application. Whatever were the reasons which caused St. Peter to grant special distinction to these two sees – and the reasons, no doubt, were they secular greatness and geographical position – still, the distinction having been thus granted, their subsequent ecclesiastical greatness was due to their connection with St. Peter, and not to the reasons which actuated him.
It only remains to be said that the Pope finally annulled the canon by virtue of the authority of St. Peter, which the canon is supposed by opponents implicity, if not explicitly, to deny to him. His words in his letter to Pulcheria are as follows: “Those things agreed on by the bishops contrary to the rules of the holy canons drawn up at Nicaea, in union with the piety of your faith, we do annul, and by the authority of the Blessed Apostle Peter do, by a general definition, make utterly void” – “Consensiones vero episcoporum sanctorum Canonum apud Nicaeam conditorum repungnantes, unita nobiscum vestrae fidei pietate, in irritum mittimus, et, per auctoritatem Beati Petri Apostoli, generali prorsus definitione cassimus.” The Emperor Marcian accepts the refusal and praises the Pope because he stands out as the one who, “by guarding the ecclesiastical canons, has suffered no innovation upon ancient custom and the order agreed upon of old.” And finally Anatolius himself writes to submit to the Pope’s decision, “in order that, by obeying you, I might fulfil those things which have seemed good to your mind. For be it far from me to oppose whatsoever was commanded me in those letters.” And the letter concludes with the words previously quoted: “Gestorum vis omnis et confirmatio auctoritati vestrae beatitudinis reservata est.” The final word, therefore, of the Patriarch of Constantinople himself upon the question is a humble acknowledgement that not even a General Council could give him the precedency he desired for his See without the assent and confirmation of the Sovereign Pontiff.