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328The Letter of Agatho, Pope of Old Rome, to the Emperor, and the Letter of Agatho and of 125 Bishops of the Roman Synod, Addressed to the Sixth Council.

(Read at the Fourth Session, November 15, at the request of George, Patriarch of Constantinople and his Suffragans.)

Introductory Note.

(Bossuet, Defensio Cler. Gal. Lib. VII., cap. xxiv.)

All the fathers spoke one by one, and only after examination were the letters of St. Agatho and the whole Western Council approved.  Agatho, indeed, and the Western Bishops put forth their decrees thus [‘We have directed persons from our humility to your valour protected of God, which shall offer to you the report of us all, that is, of all the Bishops in the Northern or Western Regions, in which too we have summed up the confession of our Apostolic Faith, yet326326    The words in brackets are not quoted by Bossuet.] not as those who wished to contend about these things as being uncertain, but, being certain and unchangeable to see them forth in a brief definition, [suppliantly beseeching you that, by the favour of your sacred majesty, you would command these same things to be preached to all, and to have force with all.’]  Undoubtedly, therefore, so far as in them lay, they defined the matter.  The question was, whether the other Churches throughout the world would agree, and a matter so great was only made clear after Episcopal examination.  But the high, magnificent, yet true expressions, which St. Agatho had used of his See, namely, that resting on the promise of the Lord it had never turned aside from the path of truth, and that its Pontiffs, the predecessors of Agatho, who were charged in the person of Peter to strengthen their brethren, had ever discharged that office, this the Fathers of the Council hear and receive.  But not the less they examine the matter, they inquire into the decrees of Roman Pontiffs, and, after inquiry held, approve Agatho’s decrees, condemn those of Honorius:  a certain proof that they did not understand Agatho’s expressions as if it were necessary to receive without discussion every decree of Roman Pontiffs even de fide, inasmuch as they are subjected to the supreme and final examination of a General Council:  but as if these expressions taken as a whole, in their total, hold good in the full and complete succession of Peter, as we have often said, and in its proper place shall say at greater length.

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