LETTER OF INNOCENT I
JANUARY 27, 417
It is therefore with due care and fitness that you consult the chancery of the apostolic office (that office, I mean, to which belongs, besides those things that are outside, the care of all the churches) as to what opinion should be held on doubtful matters, following the form of the ancient rule which, you and I know, has ever been kept in the whole world. But this I pass by, because I am sure your prudence is aware of it: for how could you by your actions have confirmed it, unless you knew that answers to questions always flow through all provinces from the apostolic spring? Especially as often as questions of faith are to be ventilated, I think all our brothers and fellow bishops ought to refer to none but Peter, that is to the author of their name and office. even as your affection has now referred [to us] a matter which may benefit all churches in common throughout the whole world. For they must needs be more cautious when they see the inventors of these evils, on the report of two synods, cut off by the decree of our sentence from ecclesiastical communion.
Therefore your charity will do a double good; for you will obtain the grace of having observed the canons, and the whole world will share your benefit. For who among Catholics will choose any longer to hold conversation with Christ's enemies? . . .
We declare that Pelagius and Celestius, that is the inventors of new doctrines which, as the apostle said, are wont to produce no edification, but rather utterly empty questionings, should by the authority of apostolic vigour be deprived of ecclesiastical communion, until they recover from the snares of the devil, by whom they are held prisoner by their own choice.
[Epistle 30, to the Council of Mileve (Inter caeteras).]