The Moral Science of John Cassian
The Lérinians were not the only face of the Gallic monastic movement. Closely associated with them, and well known to Pope Celestine, was John Cassian, an ascetic teacher who had gone to great lengths to ensure that he could not be accused of traducing the moral authority of his position. In his capacity as mentor to ascetics in southern Gaul, Cassian was as fierce as any critic of the ascetic movement in his determination to curb its tendency towards scandal. His response, however, was not to distrust the ascetic project itself, but to make all the more exacting and precise the means of assessing a person's integrity. Where Augustine of Hippo had come to doubt the possibility or value of achieving such a moral science, Cassian strove to establish secure grounds for the expert use of authority in the Church. His intervention was crucial in restoring public credibility to the ascetic movement. He argued that to speak as a trained ascetic was in itself a means of exerting moral authority.
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