Chapter 66.—The Harsh Measures of the Pelagians Against the Holy Monks and Nuns Who Belonged to Jeromes Charge.
Certain followers of Pelagius are said to have carried their support of his cause after these judicial proceedings to an incredible extent of perverseness and audacity. They are said 1783 to have most cruelly beaten and maltreated the servants and handmaidens of the Lord who lived under the care of the holy presbyter Jerome, slain his deacon, and burnt his monastic houses; whilst he himself, by Gods mercy, narrowly escaped the violent attacks of these impious assailants in the shelter of a well-defended fortress. However, I think it better becomes me to say nothing of these matters, but to wait and see what measures our brethren the bishops may deem it their duty to adopt concerning such scandalous enormities; for nobody can suppose that it is possible for them to pass them over without notice. Impious doctrines put forth by persons of this character it is no doubt the duty of all catholics, however remote their residence, to oppose and refute, and so to hinder all injury from such opinions wheresoever they may happen to find their way; but impious actions it belongs to the discipline of the episcopal authority on the spot to control, and they must be left for punishment to the bishops of the very place or immediate neighbourhood, to be dealt with as pastoral diligence and godly severity may suggest. We, therefore, who live at so great a distance, are bound to hope that such a stop may there be put to proceedings of this kind, that there may be no necessity elsewhere of further invoking judicial remedies. But what rather befits our personal activity is so to set forth the truth, that the minds of all those who have been severely wounded by the report, so widely spread everywhere, may be healed by the mercy of God following our efforts. With this desire, I must now at last terminate this work, which, should it succeed, as I hope, in commending itself to your mind, will, I trust, with the Lords blessing, become serviceable to its readers—recommended to them rather by your name than by my own, and through your care and diligence receiving a wider circulation.
He here refers to a letter (32) of Pope Innocent to John, Bishop of Jerusalem. It thus commences: “Plunder, slaughter, incendiary fire, every atrocity of the maddest kind have been deplored by the noble and holy virgins Eustochium and Paula, as having been perpetrated, at the devils instigation, in several places of your diocese,” etc. An epistle by the same writer (33) addressed to Jerome, begins with these words: “The apostle testifies that contention never did any good to the Church.”