21 March, 2010

From Pope Gelasius' Letter to Emperor Anastasius

"There are two orders, O August Emperor, by which this world is principally ruled: the consecrated authority of the pontiffs, and royal power [auctoritas sacrata pontificum, et regalis potestas]. But the burden laid upon the priests in this matter is the heavier, for it is they who are to render an account at the Divine judgment even for the kings of men. Know, O most clement Son, that although you take precedence over the human race in dignity, nonetheless you bend your neck in devout submission to those who preside over things Divine, and look to them for the means of your salvation. In partaking of the heavenly sacraments, when they are properly dispensed, you acknowledge that you ought to be subject to the order of religion rather than ruling it…For if the ministers of religion, acknowledging that your rule, insofar as it pertains to the keeping of public discipline, has been given to you by Divine disposition, obey your laws, lest they seem to obstruct the proper course of worldly affairs: with what good will, I pray, ought you to obey those who have been charged with the dispensation of the holy mysteries?"

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