Chapter XV.—The Emperor Constantius repairs to Sirmium, recalls Liberius, and restores him to the Church of Rome; he also commands Felix to assist Liberius in the Sacerdotal Office.
Not long after these events, the emperor returned to Sirmium from Rome; on receiving a deputation from the Western bishops, he recalled Liberius from Berœa. 1320 Constantius urged him, in the presence of the deputies of the Eastern bishops, and of the other priests who were at the camp, to confess that the Son is not of the same substance as the Father. He was instigated to this measure by Basil, Eustathius, and Eusebius, who possessed great influence over him. They had formed a compilation, in one document, of the decrees against Paul of Samosata, and Photinus, bishop of Sirmium; to which they subjoined a formulary of faith drawn up at Antioch at the consecration of the church, as if certain persons had, under the pretext of the term “consubstantial,” attempted to establish a heresy of their own. Liberius, Athanasius, Alexander, Severianus, and Crescens, a priest of Africa, were induced to assent to this document, as were likewise Ursacius, Germanius, bishop of Sirmium, Valens, bishop of Mursa, and as many of the Eastern bishops as were present. They partially approved of a confession of faith drawn up by Liberius, in which he declared that those who affirm that the Son is not like unto the Father in substance and in all other respects, are excommunicated. For when Eudoxius and his partisans at Antioch, who favored the heresy of Aëtius, received the letter of Hosius, they circulated the report that Liberius had renounced the term “consubstantial,” and had admitted p. 310 that the Son is dissimilar from the Father. After these enactments had been made by the Western bishops, the emperor permitted Liberius to return to Rome. The bishops who were then convened at Sirmium 1321 wrote to Felix, who governed the Roman church, and to the other bishops, desiring them to receive Liberius. They directed that both should share the apostolical throne and discharge the priestly duties in common, with harmony of mind; and that whatever illegalities might have occurred in the ordination of Felix, or the banishment of Liberius, might be buried in oblivion. The people of Rome regarded Liberius as a very excellent man, and esteemed him highly on account of the courage he had evinced in opposing the emperor, so that they had even excited seditions on his account, and had gone so far as to shed blood. Felix survived but a short time; and Liberius found himself in sole possession of the church. This event was, no doubt, ordained by God, that the seat of Peter might not be dishonored by the occupancy of two bishops; for such an arrangement is a sign of discord, and is foreign to ecclesiastical law.
Athan. Hist. Arian. 35–41; Epistles of Liberius, M. P. L. 8; Hil. Fragm. iv.–vi.; Theodoret, H. E. ii. 17; Ruf. i. 22; Philost. iv. 3; Soc. ii. 37; Sulp. Sev. H. S. ii. 39. Many independent details.310:1321
The fourth Sirmium council, a.d. 358.