Church and State
"Importunities and excessive pertinacity and unjust petitions have caused us to have too little favour or confidence, while certain bishops cease not to go to the Court...who spurn and contemn the salutary counsels of our most holy brother an fellow-bishop, Gratus, so that they not only bring to the Court many and diverse petitions (not for the good of the Church nor, as is usual and right, to succor the poor or widows or orphans), but even seek to obtain worldly dignities and offices for certain persons. This evil therefore stirs up at times not only murmurings, but even scandals. But it is proper that bishops should intercede for persons suffering from violence and oppression, afflicted widows and defrauded orphans, provided, nevertheless, that these persons have a just cause or petition.
If, then, brethren dearly beloved, such be your pleasure, do we decree that no bishops go to the Court except those who may have been invited or summoned by letters of the God-fearing emporer. But since it often happens that those who are suffering from injustice or who are condemned for their offences to deportation or banishment to an island, or, in short, have received some sentance or other, seek refuge with the mercy of the Church, such persons should be succoured and pardon be begged for them without hesitation. Decree this, therefore, if it be your pleasure. All said: It is our pleasure and be it decreed."
Canon VII from the Council at Sardica AD 343 or 344