20Those that sin rebuke before all (104) Whenever any measure is taken for the protection of good men, it is immediately seized by bad men to prevent them from being condemned. Accordingly, what Paul had said about repelling unjust accusations he modifies by this statement, so that none may, on this presence, escape the punishment due to sin. And, indeed, we see how great and diversified are the privileges by which Popery surrounds its clergy; so that, although their life be ever so wicked, (105) still they are exempted from all reproof. Certainly, if regard be had to the cautions which are collected by Gratian, (106) (Caus. 2, Quest. 4 and Quest. 7,) there will be no danger of their being ever compelled to give an account of their life. Where will they find the seventy-two witnesses for condemning a bishop, which are demanded by the disgusting bull issued by Pope Sylvester? Moreover, seeing that the whole order of laymen is debarred from accusing, and as the inferior orders, even of the clergy, are forbidden to give any annoyance to the higher classes of them, what shall hinder them from fearlessly mocking at all decisions?
It is therefore proper, carefully to observe this moderation, that insolent tongues shall be restrained from defaming elders by false accusations, and yet that every one of them who conducts himself badly shall be severely corrected; for I understand this injunction to relate to elders, that they who live a dissolute life shall be openly reproved.
That others also may fear Wherefore? That others, warned by such an example, may fear the more, when they perceive that not even those who are placed above them in rank and honor are spared; for as elders ought to lead the way to others by the example of a holy life, so, if they commit crime, it is proper to exercise severity of discipline toward them, that it may serve as an example to others. And why should greater forbearance be used toward those whose offenses are much more hurtful than those of others? Let it be understood that Paul speaks of crimes or glaring transgressions, which are attended by public scandal; for, if any of the elders shall have committed a fault, not of a public nature, it is certain that he ought to be privately admonished and not openly reproved.
(104) “Repren publiquement.” “ publicly.”
(105) “Combien que la vie de leurs moines et prestres soit la plus meschante et desbordee qu’ scauroit dire.” — “ the life of their monks and priests be the most wicked and dissolute that can be described.”
(106) “ a Benedictine of the 12th century, was a native of Chiusi, and was the author of a famous work, entitled “Decretal,” or “Concordantia Discordantium Canonum,” in which he endeavored to reconcile those canons that seem to contradict each other. He was, however, guilty of some errors, which Anthony Augustine endeavored to correct in his work entitled “De emendatione Gratiani “ Gratian’ “Decretal “ forms one of the principal parts of the canon law.” — Gorton’ Biog. Dict.