Blessed members of the church in Cordoba,
I write to inform you of the conclusion of the Council of Nicaea and of the great acts we have achieved. It was an exhausting couple of weeks, but now I am happy to say that the council attained its stated goal of a unified church. As Presiding Bishop and a close advisor to Constantine, my ultimate goal was the unity of the church but I did try to sway decisions toward the Alexandrian faction as much as possible.
The first three sessions of the council were dedicated to the formulation of our Creed. I am incredibly pleased to say that the Bishops present unanimously approved the Creed, which greatly pleased the Emperor. Although I wholeheartedly agree with the theological points made in the Creed, I think the language could have been more specific. On the last day of the Council, Alexander attempted to amend the creed to include more specific language, specifically homoousis, or the idea that Jesus is of the same substance of God. However we were nearing the end of our time and I did not want to jeopardize the unity we had already achieved. I believe that furthering the Emperor’s goal of unity was more important than petty fighting over little words. The consequence is that our community will have to be vigilant in guarding against heresy, especially that which Arius perpetuates. But I believe that through strong faith and under God’s hand we will be able to eradicate that falsehood. The truth will reign.
The final three sessions were dedicated to establishment of the canons. First we voted to move the jurisdiction of Palestine from Caesarea to Jerusalem. I had no theological stake in this decision however in order to gain Marcarius’ vote in favor of the authority of the metropolitan bishops, I voted in favor of the move. The council then voted to create a hierarchy of power among bishops, giving metropolitan bishops greater power than local ones. Although this decreases my own authority, it was necessary to create structure and order. The hierarchy we created mirrors that of the Roman empire, thus I hope the church will attain similar prosperity. The council also voted unanimously to elect the Bishop of Rome, now Vito, as the head Bishop, or “Pope,” and to eliminate future councils.
The greatest loss I experienced was the establishment of the date of Easter. Unfortunately, it is currently set as the Sunday after the beginning of Passover. Theclus, Meletius and I fought to have Easter on a set date, unrelated to either Passover or the vernal equinox. This was also Emperor Constantine’s goal. However, most of the council voted to base a Christian holy day on the holiday of a lesser faith. I know not what came over these bishops to make such a fatal mistake but I do hope that we can rectify the problem at a future date.
On the issue of the lapsed, the council determined that all were to be forgiven, however clergymen who lapsed are to lose their appointments. Jesus preached forgiveness and so only God can judge those who lapsed in their faith. However, as leaders of the faith, clergymen must be held to a higher standard than the laity, thus it is only fitting that those clergymen who lapsed should be replaced by those of more resolute faith.
Other canons concerning the clergy mandated celibacy, except for those previously married, mandated the re-baptism of followers of Paul of Samosata, and removed a waiting period for future clergymen. I voted in favor of all of these measures because each in their own way strengthens the unity and morality of the clergy.
As I write this letter, I am eager to return home to you, faithful followers of Christ. I have been gone too long and much has transpired. In the meantime, I hope that this letter brings joy to you all and that each of you continues to live fully in the Lord’s light.