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[Ms P, fol. 169r - Paulus Diaconus]

Ch. 69

Translated by: Justin Haar & Albrecht Diem

Congruum ordinem tenuit B. Benedictus in hoc loco, in eo quod prius dixit, si gravia vel impossibilia injuncta fuerint, cum omni humilitate priori suo, qui sibi praeest, debere suggerere, et nunc subjungit: tut non praesumat in monasterio alius alium defendere; quia forte contingit, ut, cum alicui videatur quis gravia aut impossibilia jubere, defendere conetur. Et hoc notandum, quia non solum de tali defensione istud capitulum intelligendum est esse dictum, sed etiam de omnibus defensionibus, quae fieri possunt. Superius enim mortificaverat monachum jam, cum dixit: nec voluntates proprias licet habere in propria potestate [Regula Benedicti, c. 33.4] et deinde dicit, si fratri impossibilia injungantur, ut omnia obediat. [cf. Regula Benedicti, c. 68.1]  

Blessed Benedict kept the right order at this place, as he first said that if difficult or impossible things are commanded, [a monk] should raise this matter with all humility with the prior who is his superior. And now he adds that nobody in the monastery should presume to defend another, for it happens occasionally that when someone seems to order [a brother] something burdensome or impossible, [another] attempts to defend him. And it should be noticed that one should not understand that this chapter only spoke about this kind of defense, but all sorts of possible defenses. Because above Benedict has already humbled a monk when he said that he is not allowed to have his own will under his own power [Regula Benedicti, c. 33.4]. And thereafter he says, if impossible things are ordered of a brother, that he ought to obey in everything. [cf. Regula Benedicti, c. 68.1]  

Ergo si ita est, ut monachus pro se non audeat [page 618] quidquam loqui, multo minus pro aliis. Nam ille, qui aut se aut alium vult defendere, non est mortificatus; et si non est mortificatus, nec monachus est. - Sciendum est enim, quibus modis fit defensio: aliquando pro consanguinitate, aliquando pro patria, quia de una patria est, aliquando pro discipulatu, aliquando pro amicitia, aliquando pro vitio gulae, v. gr. si talis est, qui ante horam vult participare, aliquando pro altero vitio; et ideo de omnibus occasionibus defendendi intelligi debet, quia hoc non convenit mortificatis.

Therefore if is the case that a monk should not dare [page 618] to say something on his own behalf, much less should he so for others. For he who wishes to defend either himself or another is not humble. And if he is not humble, he is not a monk. For the ways a defense is made should be understood: sometimes on account of kinship; sometimes because of shared homeland; sometimes because of discipleship; sometimes out of friendship; sometimes for the vice of gluttony, e.g., if it happens that he wants to share [food] before mealtime; sometimes because of another vice. And therefore it should be understood concerning all occasions of defending, since it is not fitting for the humble.

Ait enim ita: 1Praecavendum est, ne quavis occasione praesumat alius alium defendere monachum in monasterio aut quasi tueri, 2etiam si qualibet consanguinitatis propinquitate jungantur; 3nec quolibet modo id a monachis praesumatur, quia exinde gravissima occasio scandalorum oriri potest. 4Quod si quis haec transgressus fuerit, acrius coerceatur.

For he says this: 1Care must be taken lest a monk presume in any circumstance to defend another in the monastery or take him under his protection, as it were, 2even if they are connected by some close kinship. 3In no way should monks presume in this matter, because a very grave occasion for scandals can arise from it. 4Anyone who transgresses in this matter should be severely punished.

Praecavendum, i. e. valde cavendum. Per hoc quod dicit quavis occasione, omnem occasionem excludit. Defendere enim attinet ad apertam defensionem, quasi tueri ad occultam defensionem, i. e. non manifestam, sed coopertam verbis.  

Care must be taken, that is, one has to watch carefully. By saying in any circumstance, he excludes every [possible] occasion. To defend pertains to overt defense and Or take him under his protection to hidden defense, that is, not open but concealed in words.

Sunt enim alii, qui palam et manifeste defendunt alios; ut hoc non fiat, dixit defendere; et sunt alii, qui non audent manifeste defendere; defendunt ingeniose cum dulcibus verbis et aliis latenter, cogitantes, abbatem non intelligere, se causa defensionis hoc agere. Notandum est enim atque dicendum, quia, sicut offendit ille, qui defendit, ita etiam offendit ille, qui falso accusat.

For there are some who openly and manifestly defend others. To prevent that, he says to defend. And there are others who do not dare to defend openly; they defend cleverly with sweet words and other things secretly. They think that the abbot does not understand that they do this for the sake of defense. It ought to be noted and said that just as someone commits an offense who defends, likewise does someone who falsely accuses commit an offense.

V. gr. adducit praepositus aut quilibet fratrum aliquem negligentem ad abbatem, et adsunt ibi quinque fratres; et cum corripit abbas negligentem, tunc jactat se unus causa defensionis dicendo fallacia, ut ille negligens non liberetur. Deinde secundus est, qui dicit veritatem; qui, quamvis veritatem dicat, tamen ideo dicit, ut ille negligens liberetur, habens voluntatem liberandi eum. Tertius est, qui interrogatur ab abbate; ille autem dicit veritatem, sed tamen ob hoc, ut ille negligens nec liberetur nec condemnetur, sed solummodo, ut juste corripiatur. Item est quartus, qui dicit veritatem, non ut liberetur, sed ut condemnetur, [page 619] quia intentio ejus est nocendi illum. Quintus est, qui falso dicit, ut ille negligens condemnetur, non ut liberetur. Quintus enim cum illo primo unum finem habent; quartus autem et secundus similiter unum finem habent, qui, si coram hominibus videntur liberi esse, tamen coram Deo detinentur. Solummodo ille tertius coram Deo et coram hominibus liber est a culpa.

An example: a prior or one of the brothers brings a negligent [monk] to the abbot and there are five brothers present. When the abbot reproaches the negligent, the first bursts out in [his] defense, saying false things, so that the negligent monk should not be released.1 Then there is the second who speaks the truth but, although he speaks the truth, he does so in order that the negligent monk be released because he wants him to be released. There is a third one who is questioned by the abbot. He says the truth with the intent that the negligent one should neither be released nor condemned but only justly reproached. There is a fourth one who says truthfully that he should not be released but that he should be condemned [page 619], because it is his intention to harm him. And the fifth monk speaks falsely, so that the negligent monk is condemned, not released. This fifth monk and the first monk have one goal, just as the fourth and the second one have one goal, which, even if they seem to be free [of blame] in the eyes of men, condemns them in the eyes of God. Only the third one is free of blame in the eyes of God and in the eyes of men.

Hoc enim quod dicit acrius coerceatur, duobus modis intelligi debet: aut enim in ipso gradu, quo stat, durius debet argui, aut certe unum gradum transcendere.

When he says he should be severely punished, this has to be understood in two ways. Either he should be very severely punished at the place where he stands, or he should certainly move down one step.2

1. This statement is not logical. It is possible that the word non was accidentally added.
2. It is not entirely clear whether gradus refers to the place in the hierarchy or to the gradus excommunicationis as it is mentioned in previous chapters. Either the monk gets degraded in the hierarchy or he is moved to a higher grade of excommunication.

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