To this rich collection the author, who assumes the name of Isidore, the saintly bishop of Seville, added a good number of apocryphal documents already existing, as well as a series of letters ascribed to the popes of the earliest centuries, from Clement to Silvester and Damasus inclusive, thus filling up the gap before the decretal of Siricius, which is the first genuine one in the collection.
A decretal of Innocent III.
The similar decretal of Alexander III.
Although we find Siricius a year later writing to the African Church on this same subject in tones rather of persuasion than of command, yet the beginning of compulsory sacerdotal celibacy in the Western Church may be conveniently dated from his decretal of A.D.
In 588 John, patriarch of Constantinople, by reviving the old and disputed claim to the title of oecumenic patriarch, elicited a vigorous protest from Pelagius; but the decretal which professes to convey the exact words of the document is now known to be false.
He was instructed to procure from the pope a decretal commission, laying down principles of law by which Wolsey and Campeggio might hear and determine the cause without appeal.
Several of the decretal letters of Siricius are extant, in which, at the request of certain groups of Western bishops, he sets forth the rules of ecclesiastical discipline.
This, as Wolsey saw, was quite inadequate for the purpose in view; and he again instructed Gardiner, while thanking the pope for the commission actually granted, to press him once more by very urgent pleas, to send the desired decretal on, even if the latter was only to be shown to the king and himself and then destroyed.
The famous decretal of Siricius (385) not only enjoined strict celibacy on bishops, priests and deacons, but insisted on the instant separation of those who had already married, and prescribed the punishment of expulsion for disobedience (Siric. Ep. i.