The ensuing debate on the doctrine of justification lasted seven months because of the impossibility of resolving the question by recourse to the decisions of earlier councils and because of the desire to avoid definite statements on standing controversies within the Catholic schools of theology Thomists, Scotists, Augustinians. Moreover, in July of the war against the Protestants began, and at times it approached so threateningly close to the city of Trent that consideration was given to a suspension or transferral of the council.
The first draft of a decree on justification submitted on July 28 had to be withdrawn since it encountered general disapproval; the second draft, commissioned by Cervini from the Augustinian general Girolamo seripando submitted on August 23 was finally adopted after repeated revision in session 6 Jan. For the first time, 16 doctrinal chapters were prefaced to the 33 canons in order to present the Catholic doctrine in positive form.
The council answered Luther's most ardent desire by affirming that God's grace is necessary for the entire process of justification, although the process does not exclude dispositions for grace or the collaboration of free will see grace; free will and grace. The essence of justification was declared to consist not in the remission of sins alone but rather in the "sanctification and renovation of the inner man" by supernatural charity.
Faith is not the only condition of justification, although it is the "beginning, foundation and root"; no one can be certain that he is in a state of grace. The grace of justification increases through observance of the commandments of God, which is a duty imposed by God and not simply a sign of accomplished justification.
The grace of justification can be lost as a result of mortal sin not simply by loss of faith , and it can be regained through the Sacrament of penance. Eternal life in God is a grace, not merely a reward. Residence and jurisdiction of bishops. The decree on justification was adopted almost unanimously, but the decree on obligatory residence for bishops and pastors, submitted on Jan. These were the trammeling of episcopal activities by the secular power, the Curia, the exempt cathedral chapters, and others. Only 28 of the 60 participants with the right to vote gave the decree their unconditional placet in this session, and only in the general congregation of February 25 could its adoption be established by taking account of the qualified placet votes.
The legates felt compelled to consider the bishops' demands and expand their reform program. The reform decree adopted in session 7 March 3, eliminated a number of abuses in the matter of rights of jurisdiction and ordination; the prerogatives of the bishops were extended to include the right to make visitations of exempt parochial benefices as well.
First deliberation on the sacraments. The same session, after a detailed debate that extended from February 8 to 22, determined the Catholic notion of a Sacrament and placed their number at seven. The Sacraments were defined as efficacious signs, bringing grace by the rite itself ex opere operato and not simply by reason of the faith of the recipient. The council also defined the doctrine on the Sacraments of Baptism and confirmation see sacramental, theology. An epidemic of typhus, probably brought in from the German war front, provided the opportunity to transfer the council from Trent, the sphere of the emperor's influence, to Bologna, which was under papal hegemony.
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The decree of transference, adopted in session 8 March 11, , was protested by a minority of 14 bishops, almost all of them subjects of the emperor; they remained in Trent. The majority attended the first session in Bologna, held on April 21, The ensuing months were spent in intensive treatment of the doctrine on the remaining Sacraments and on the Sacrifice of the Mass [see sacrifice, iv in christian theology ; eu-charist in contemporary catholic thought], purgatory, veneration of the saints, and monastic vows, both in the theological congregation and the general congregation.
But not a single one of the decrees on these dogmatic matters and their corresponding abuses could be adopted, because the pope did not want to push to the breaking point the tension with the emperor, which resulted from the council's transfer. The pope, however, rejected Charles V's demand for a return to Trent.
After the emperor had submitted a solemn protest both in Rome and Bologna against the change of the site of the council, Paul III decreed a suspension of its deliberations on February 16, The significance of the Bologna interval lay in its important preparatory work for later conciliar debates.
After the death of Paul III, his successor, julius iii, yielded to the pressure of the emperor and on Nov. The council opened punctually on May 1, , but it did not begin its deliberations until late summer; yet, as a result of the work that had been done in Bologna, it managed as early as Oct. These definitions covered eight doctrinal chapters and 11 canons. In the matter of Extreme Unction, the main issue at stake was the sacramental nature of this action, which Luther had contested.
The reform decrees of both sessions concerned the rights and duties of the bishops with respect to their clergy and regulated the procedure in church courts. They had indeed promised to attend the council of Trent; this promise had been given at the Diet of Augsburg in after the defeat of the Schmalkaldic League, but conditions had been attached that made any rapprochement difficult, if not impossible. These included a revision of the resolutions already taken by the council so as to base them solely on Scripture and the subordination of the pope to the council.
The demand for an improved safe-conduct that would guarantee their safety in Trent was acceded to in session 15 Jan. The debate on the Sacrament of holy orders and the Sacrifice of the Mass, begun on Jan.
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This broke out in the spring and forced suspension of the council on April 28, session The council's deliberations remained suspended for a decade, and thus far it had arrived only at fragmentary results: Its dogmatic definitions were incomplete, only a fraction of the controversies with the Protestants having been doctrinally resolved; still less satisfactory were its reform decrees, which left unanswered many urgent petitions of the bishops. In Julius III prepared an extensive reform bull to cope with the many unresolved practical problems, but he died before it could be published.
The reopening of the council under Paul IV 's successor, pius iv, was occasioned by the advance of calvinism in France. Should this be a new council, as France and Emperor Ferdinand I wished, or should it be a continuation of the previous sessions, as King philip ii of spain demanded? Although the bull of convocation, published on Nov. Renewed deliberation on episcopal residence. Presiding as legates were Cardinals Ercole Gonzaga, Girolamo Seripando, Stanislaus hosius, and Ludovico simonetta; the pope's nephew, Cardinal Marcus Sitticus von Hohenems Altemps , also named as legate, left the council after a short time.
In order to avoid the politically tense question of whether this was a new council or a continuation of Trent, the legates on March 11, , presented 12 reform articles, the first of which dealt with the yet unresolved problem of episcopal residence. The debate centered on whether the council should declare bishops to be obliged to reside in their dioceses by divine law.
The supporters of the ius divinum were convinced that this was the only way to cure the neglectfulness of bishops who resided at court or elsewhere than the territory entrusted to their pastoral care; the opponents saw in such a declaration a threat to papal primacy. A vote taken on April 20 on whether the council should make a declaration on the ius divinum of the residence obligation yielded 67 placets, 35 non-placets, with 34 council fathers referring the decision to the pope.
Thereupon Pius IV forbade a continuation of the debate. Cardinals Gonzaga and Seripando, who were reputed to be in favor of the ius divinum solution, fell into disfavor with the pope, and their recall was contemplated. The vehement reaction of the Spanish bishops, led by Archbishop Pedro Guarrero of Granada, and of the imperial bishops against the measure condemned the council to inactivity until Gonzaga promised in the general congregation of June 6 to continue the debate on the residence obligation when the Sacrament of Holy Orders would be discussed.
The crisis was temporarily surmounted. Communion under both species. The first fruit of the renewed deliberations was the decree of session 21 July 16, on Communion under both species, which laid the dogmatic basis expressed in the statement that under either species the whole and undivided Christ is received for the resolution of the practical question of the granting of the chalice to the laity.
The practical question itself, however, which had been raised by Emperor Ferdinand I and the duke of Bavaria, was postponed in view of the reservations expressed, especially by the Spaniards. In the following session, the regulation of the practical question was referred to the pope, who, after the conclusion of the council April 16, authorized the chalice for the laity under certain conditions for several ecclesiastical provinces of Germany and the hereditary territories of the hapsburgs. Sacrifice of the Mass. The nine canons and nine doctrinal chapters adopted in session 22 Sept.
All the reformers had denied the sacrificial character of the Mass, and its abolition had always been the decisive step toward separation. For the Catholic Church the Mass is the center of the mystery of salvation, latreutic and Eucharistic but also propitiatory, a commemoration but also a rendering present of the sacrifice of the cross; the Mass in no way encroaches upon the uniqueness of the sacrifice of Calvary because the same sacrificial priest offers the same sacrificial gift, although in a different way eadem hostia, idem offerens, sola offerendi ratione diversa.
The council defined that the Sacrifice of the Mass may be offered in honor of the saints and for the faithful, living and dead. A simultaneous reform decree bound the bishops to eliminate abuses in its celebration. The claim that a contemplated ban on florid counterpoint was prevented by Giovanni Pierluigi da palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli is a legend that originated only in ; but there may be a grain of historical truth in it inasmuch as the council fathers were acquainted with the newly developing church music of Palestrina and Orlando di Lassus through the polyphonic conciliar prayers by the Dutch composer Jacobus de Kerle and through other compositions.
Ius Divinum of episcopal office. During the ensuing debate on the Sacrament of Holy Orders October 13 to 20, November 3 to 10 and on the schema on the obligation of residence presented on December 10, the clash between the supporters of the ius divinum of the episcopal office and the "Zelanti" backed by the legate Simonetta broke out afresh.
All the efforts of Gonzaga and Seripando to bring the two parties to agreement on the controversial canon 7 of the decree on Holy Orders were unsuccessful. The draft formula of Seripando to the effect that the bishops had "been established in the Church by Christ" but received their jurisdiction from the pope was rejected not only by the "Zelanti" but also in Rome; conversely, the French resisted the suggestion made by Rome that the Florentine council's definition of the primacy be adopted.
Again the negotiations bogged down and the council seemed incapable of fruitful progress. Guise, now the undisputed leader of the opposition, went to Emperor Ferdinand I at Innsbruck and persuaded him to draw the attention of the pope in two letters written on March 3, , to the seriousness of the situation; simultaneously a special ambassador of the king of Spain appeared in Rome with similar complaints. This intervention of the secular powers accented the full seriousness of the conciliar crisis. It was surmounted only after the two senior legates, Gonzaga and Seripando, had died March 2 and 17 respectively and been replaced by Cardinals Giovanni morone and Bernardo Navagero.
Morone, the best diplomat then available to the Curia, and possessing the full confidence of the pope, became the savior of the council. Soon after his arrival in Trent, he went to the emperor at Innsbruck and dissipated his fears that the pope wanted neither reform of the Church nor the council's continuation. The pope meanwhile assured the king of Spain in several personal letters that he was resolved to continue the council, to confirm and implement its decisions, in short "to do everything that a good pope and a good Christian can and must do.
In Trent itself, Cardinal Morone's diplomatic skill managed to win over Cardinal Guise for a compromise involving a simple omission of the most important point of doctrinal controversy, the ius divinum of the episcopal office. The decree on Holy Orders 4 chapters and 8 canons adopted in session 23 July 15, defined the sacramental character of sacerdotal ordination and the existence of an ecclesiastical hierarchy based on divine ordinance.
The controversial canon 7, now become canon 8, condemned the contention that bishops named by the pope are not legal and true bishops. The simultaneously adopted decree on the residence obligation began with the words "it is a divine precept that the pastor know his flock," but refrained from any statement concerning the basis of the obligation of episcopal residence that was made specifically to include the cardinals. Session 23 also ordered the establishment of episcopal seminaries for the training of priests De ref. Previously there had been neither binding norms nor appropriate institutions for the training and education of future priests; it had been left up to each individual candidate to acquire the training necessary for his priestly functions.
There was practically no question of any spiritual formation. The council averted to certain examples of organized training already in existence in Verona and Granada, and noted the decree of the English National Synod that established cathedral schools as "nurseries" seminaria of the clergy and laid upon the bishops the obligation of erecting, with the financial assistance of their diocesan clergy, "colleges" for the training and education of future priests. The deepest reason for the two crises of the council was the suspicion of many non-Italian bishops that the pope and Curia wanted to avoid any consequential reform of the Church and preferred to settle for measures of little gravity.
What the bishops judged was needed for reform they had committed to writing in reform memoranda. On April 6, , the Spaniards had presented such a list to the legates; later the emperor and the French had proposed similar "reform petitions," but the council had not taken them up. Now Morone had these proposals sifted by the auditor of the Rota, Gabrielle Paleotti, and an extensive text was elaborated, taking account of curial traditions; its first portion was put up for debate on Sept. Its basic thought was that the salvation of souls must be the supreme law.
Therefore, in the selection of bishops, attention was to be paid to choosing only the more worthy digniores , who would be able to function, on the model of Christ, as good shepherds and heralds of the gospel. The episcopal powers, hitherto exposed to many limitations, were de facto expanded; bishops were given, for instance, in their quality as delegates of the Holy See , the right of correction and punishment over all exempt orders and chapters, institutions and individuals insofar as any of these were engaged in pastoral work.
Provincial synods were to be held every three years, diocesan synods every year; the exempt were also to appear at them and obey their enactments. Competition for pastoral appointments was introduced after the Spanish model, so as to discover the most qualified magis idoneus candidates. The former defended the sacramental character of marriage, from which derived the Church's right to establish impediments; it likewise proclaimed the unity and indissolubility of marriage.
The second decree, usually called the Tametsi from its initial word, declared that secret marriages not solemnized in facie ecclesiae matrimonia clandestina were not only illicit, as the law then in force had declared, but invalid as well: It made the validity of a marriage dependent on the observance of the prescription regarding form, namely, that the marriage be solemnized before a competent pastor and two or three witnesses. The fact of the marriage is to be entered in a register. The Tametsi decree came into force only where it was promulgated.
Morone made every effort, in accord with Pius IV and his nephew Charles borromeo, who was responsible for the correspondence with the conciliar legates, to end the council before Christmas; the Spanish ambassador, Count Luna, with a small group of malcontents, tried to prolong it, but without success. The second part of the great reform text was debated in the general congregation. It was directed against excessive ostentation on the part of cardinals and bishops and reminded them that they ought to be models of holy humility sanctae humilitatis exempla ; in the interest of pastoral efficiency, many changes were made in the law governing ecclesiastical offices, with particular regard to patronage, union of benefices, and claims to benefices.
The schema on reform of the regulars presented on November 20 limited itself to establishing certain definite principles concerning the novitiate, the making of profession and the vita communis, binding for all orders. It contained precautions to safeguard the freedom of action in making profession and a tightening of the enclosure for convents. The ban on awarding abbeys to secular priests, especially cardinals, as commendatories, was so vaguely worded as to be ineffectual.
A minority of about 40 cardinals complained of its indefiniteness but to no avail, and this abuse was not entirely suppressed in the sequel. Besides these reform decrees, there was on the agenda a declaration of the council on indulgences, against which Luther had previously composed his 95 Theses, on purgatory, and on the veneration of the saints, of their relics, and of images; this veneration of saints had been a great point of contention in the polemic with the Protestants. Since it proved impossible for lack of time to treat these articles of faith in detail with the same care as the others in the theological and general congregations , Morone yielded to the insistence of Guise and formed three council committees to elaborate brief decrees that reproduced the essentials of Catholic doctrine on these points and also contained the reform measures necessary precisely in this area.
The council stated that the Church has full power to grant indulgences; that there is a place of purification for the dead that is accessible to the intercession and sacrifice of the faithful; that it "is good and profitable to invoke the saints" and to venerate their relics; that it is permissible to place images of Christ and the saints in churches and to venerate them, because, as the seventh Ecumenical Council had defined: Close of the council. It was intended to publish these decrees and the last-mentioned reform decrees on December 9 and thus to conclude the council.
But when during the night of November 30 and December 1 a courier brought the news from Rome that the pope was dangerously ill, session 25 was advanced to December 3. It lasted two days because the decrees from all the previous sessions were read again and approved and signed. The signatories were 6 cardinals, 3 patriarchs, 25 archbishops, bishops, 19 proxies for absent bishops, and 7 generals of religious orders. All the council fathers then obligated themselves to confess the faith and doctrine contained in the dogmatic decrees and to observe the directives of the reform decrees.
In its final session the council had commissioned the legates to obtain papal confirmation of their work. This was given on Jan. All decrees were approved without alteration; the pope reserved the authentic interpretation to the Apostolic See and forbade the publication of commentaries and glosses without its approval. The council had also in its final session given over to the pope several pieces of business that it had not been able to dispatch itself.
The revised edition of the Vulgate did not appear until Sixto-Clementina. The reform of the offices of the Roman Curia, from which the council had abstained entirely, was mainly the work of Pius V and Sixtus V. Still more important than the supplementation of the decrees was their implementation. The official edition of the decrees printed by Paulus Manutius was sent to the bishops; in this way they also reached America and Africa Congo. They were accepted and accommodated at provincial and diocesan synods.
A crucial factor was the intervention of the popes on behalf of an implementation of the decrees; nuncios and apostolic visitors were commissioned to supervise this execution. In view of the still-intimate ties between Church and State, the papal representatives were also at pains to get the decrees accepted by the governments. The Italian states and Poland accepted them unconditionally; Spain, "without prejudice to the rights of the King. The Council of Trent was the Church's answer to the Protestant reformation.
It delimited Catholic doctrine sharply from Protestant doctrine and eliminated the disastrous obscurity as to what was an essential element of the faith and what was merely a subject for theological controversy. This Tridentine faith was briefly summarized in the Professio fidei Tridentina, prescribed on Nov. This profession of faith has one striking lacuna: There is no definition of the Church or of the papal primacy, against which the attacks of the reformers had been concentrated. It is clear from the history of the council that this definition was impossible at that time because the opposing conceptions still in existence could not be reconciled.
The reform decrees of the council were a compromise between the radical reformers' wishes and the curial tradition, not an ideal solution but a serviceable one. Wherever implemented, they effected a renewal and strengthening of ecclesiastical life. The new Catholic piety and mysticism, the revival of scholastic theology, the emergence of positive theology, and the art and culture of the baroque age depend upon the Council of Trent or at least are inconceivable without it.
It was no mere restoration of the Middle Ages ; rather, it brought so many new features to the countenance of the Church that with it a new era of Church history begins. To the present-day reproach that the council deepened the split between Catholics and Protestants and imbued the Catholic Church for a century with an anti-Protestant attitude, the answer must be that there was an absolute need to delimit clearly the Catholic faith from the Protestant confessions. A resultant anti-Protestant posture was scarcely avoidable given the circumstances. The Council of Trent is not an insurmountable barrier for Christian reunion, as often alleged, for its doctrinal decrees, though not in need of revision, are capable of supplementation.
Canones et decreta S … Concilii Tridentini Rome , the official standard ed. The oldest collection of the Acta was provided by j. Louvain — Critical edition of all available sources, Concilium Tridentinum, containing: The correspondence of the Legates during the last sessions in j. Vienna — Washington , autograph of Council Secretary Massarelli reproduced in photostat copy with important introd. Narrative and interpretative works. Rome — 57 , best ed. Faenza — 97 , with h. Paris — Louis — 60 , v. Participants in the Council. Lisbon — Louis — 60 2: The entire duration of the council, h. The extensive literature that appeared during Vatican II: The older opinion, held also by H.
Jedin, on the sense of the et-et in f. The doctrine of the sacraments in general. Sessions of and Protestant participation in the council. The council under Pius IV — Ercole Gonzaga, presidente del Concilio di Trento," Archivio storico per le provincie Parmensi 17 — ; 18 29 — Addario, Osservatori Aoscani al C. The fundamental work on the deliberations on Communion under both species for the laity is g. Debate on the Sacrifice of the Mass. Its Sources and Its Formation Louvain Confirmation, supplementation, and implementation of the council and its historical importance, Pastor v.
Excellent reports on latest literature, g. Scopo, svolgimento e risultati," Divinitas 5 — ; "Ist das Konzil von Trient ein Hindernis der Wiedervereinigung? Also known as the nineteenth general council of the Roman Catholic Church , this council opened on December 13, , and closed on December 4, , after twenty-five formal sessions. The road to Trent, long and tortuous, passed through Constance, Basel, and Pisa. The cry for a sweeping reform of the church from top to bottom — "reformatio capitis et membrorum" — had been raised one hundred years before Luther posted his theses.
It continued to ring out through the fifteenth century, accompanied more often than not by the insistence that serious reform could be achieved only within the framework of a general council. Basic to this coupling of reform and council was the widespread conviction that the papacy was incapable of or unwilling to put right the tangle of abuses that threatened to smother the ecclesiastical life of Christendom.
Indeed, it was argued by many that the popes' chronic misuse of their dispensing powers, particularly with regard to the appointment to benefices, was the root cause of those abuses. The demand for a council became the standard rhetoric not only of churchmen but also of princes and statesmen. Conciliar preeminence assumed doctrinal status in many of the best universities in Europe and found its way into a thousand pamphlets, treatises, and broadsides.
Preachers thundered the message from their pulpits, and echoes were heard in busy chancelleries no less than in silent Carthusian charterhouses. No pope could be elected until he had assured the cardinals in conclave that he would summon a council within a year or two of his coronation. Such were the shock waves loosed at the Council of Constance — The questions addressed there were at once constitutional, procedural, and moral.
With whom or what lies ultimate authority within the church? The monarchical concept of the papal primacy had taken its classical form in the days of Gregory VII d. But the protracted scandal of the Western Schism — , when two and then three rival "popes" competed for the allegiance of Christendom, brought the notion of papal monarchy into severe disrepute, just as the solution of the crisis by a general council convened at Constance under the aegis of the German emperor enhanced the idea of conciliar superiority.
The council's deposition of the three squabbling claimants, its election of a successor Martin V , — , and its solemn decree, Sacrosancta , all combined to stake out a constitutional position: The decree Frequens , which called for such a council to be held every ten years, concerned itself with the procedural problem. Frequens presumed the doctrine of Sacrosancta. Since final and decisive authority belonged to the council, the pope's position was that of chief executive or prime minister responsible to the council, which therefore had to meet frequently. The conciliar movement of the fifteenth century based itself on these grounds.
Due partly to the temper of the time, that movement did not succeed.
The secular counterparts of the aristocratic ecclesiastical assemblage the conciliarists had in mind were in retreat everywhere in Europe and, in most places, on the eve of dissolution. Ambitious dynasts were in the process of bringing the powers to tax, to maintain military establishments, and to appoint government personnel under their own bureaucratic control, and thus reducing and even eliminating the prerogatives of the great medieval parliaments.
It was unlikely that the church, the first great Western institution to adopt this centralizing model, would have reversed direction in favor of a polity that was demonstrably anachronistic. But there were other, more proximate causes for the collapse of the movement, not least the tendency of the conciliarists to quarrel among themselves.
The popes, for their part, ignored the doctrine of Sacrosancta and evaded the provisions of Frequens. A council was indeed convoked at Basel in , but it soon fell out with the pope, who withdrew from it and convened a more tame assembly under his own presidency at Florence. The rump council continued to meet at Basel until , when it broke up into bitterly contending factions. After that, conciliar rhetoric sounded increasingly hollow, especially when engaged in by secular rulers who routinely invoked the threat of a council as a device to influence papal policy in Italy.
So the conciliar movement died a lingering death, its last gasp coming at Pisa in , when the king of France, in league with a dissident minority of the college of cardinals, summoned a council whose declared purpose was to strip the pope, the king's bitterest political enemy, of his office. This conciliabulum did not survive the French military reverses of the following year.
The effective end of the movement, however, did not put a quietus to the theory. The teaching of Sacrosancta continued to flourish in university circles, notably at the Sorbonne.
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Nor did those who rejected Sacrosancta necessarily repudiate Frequens as well. The two decrees had doubtlessly been wedded in the minds of the fathers of Constance, but as the century wore on a distinction between them was often drawn by those who, while not prepared to admit the constitutional superiority of the council, nevertheless believed that only a council could bring about meaningful reform.
The moral issue raised at Constance went unresolved for a hundred years. There had occurred a kind of spontaneous reform of the members in some places — the Devotio Moderna in the Netherlands, a florescence of mysticism in England and Germany, an evangelical revival in northern Italy, a dedication among the educated classes everywhere to the scholarly endeavors of Christian humanism. But these were hardly more than specks upon a dark sea of clerical illiteracy, popular superstition, jobbery, and pastoral neglect.
The belief was almost universal that such abuses perdured because the Curia Romana , the pope's own administration, permitted and even encouraged them. Curial fees, taxes, and charges proliferated, most of them designed to allow what traditional law and common sense declared to be perilous to the life of the church. The members would never be properly reformed, it was said, unless the head were reformed too. The Renaissance popes, whose lifestyles and political ambitions were hardly calculated to inspire confidence, stubbornly refused to put their houses in order or to permit any other organ of the church to do so.
They tried to keep to the high ground of constitutional theory. The papal primacy, they argued, was a datum of divine revelation that they were pledged to defend as they had received it. They also declined to have any outside agency oversee and most likely interfere with the workings of their own court, the central bureaucracy of the church.
Reform of the Curia, they proclaimed, was the business solely of the supreme pontiff. Whatever the theoretical value of this argument, the trouble with it was that the supreme pontiffs, themselves products of the curial system, were clearly not prepared to go beyond platitudes and gestures in correcting the colossal financial chicanery that corrupted the various papal departments and that reached a stunning climax in the election and pontificate of Alexander VI r.
Since Constance, the conviction that everything was for sale in Rome — offices, judgments, indulgences, dispensations from the law — had grown, not lessened, and the poison of simony seeped down through the whole body of the church. Julius II did indeed summon a council in , largely as a counter to the French-sponsored gathering at Pisa, but the meanderings of the Fifth Lateran Council — produced reform decrees that were no better than scraps of paper and that served merely to confirm the cynical mistrust of the papacy's moral resolution.
The popes' highest card in this game of stalemate was the reluctance of even fervent conciliarists — aside from a handful of academics — to challenge the doctrine of the Petrine office. But the year that saw the conclusion of the futile Fifth Lateran Council was also the year of the ninety-five theses.
By , Luther declared himself ready to jettison the papacy if that institution obstructed the full flowering of the gospel as he understood it. And Luther soon proved he was no effete intellectual but the leader of a potentially vast popular movement. Over the next decade the character of the debate about a council was drastically altered. As early as , the German estates, gathered in the Diet of Nuremberg, called for "a free Christian council in German lands. Now, besides the old clamor for a council to reform ecclesiastical abuses, there came the demand from a growing constituency in northern Europe for a reform of dogma as well.
The pope who had to contend with this new situation, Clement VII r. His successor was cut from a different cloth. Not that Farnese had the credentials of a reformer. His youthful career — Alexander VI had made him a cardinal when he was twenty-six — had revealed many of the more seamy features of the Renaissance papal court. In his middle years he had undergone something of a religious conversion, which, though it did not eradicate all the bad habits of his past, led him at least to a greater earnestness and gravity of purpose. Never a moral zealot himself, he signaled his good intentions by promoting men of genuine probity and even holiness to high ranks and, most of all, by immediately moving to fulfill his pledge to summon a general council.
From the beginning of Paul III's initiative, everything seemed to work at cross-purposes. For a council to succeed, both great Catholic sovereigns — the German emperor and the king of France — had to support it, but they were bitterly at odds with each other. The emperor, Charles V, pressed for a council of reconciliation to bring peace to Germany, which meant a council to correct abuses, to satisfy the gravamina of the German estates against the Curia, with as little attention as possible paid to divisive doctrinal issues.
Francis I wanted no council at all, because religious unrest in Germany, which discomfited his Habsburg rival, was much to his liking. Had Paul III had his way, he would have preferred a council over which he could keep careful watch, a kind of "Sixth Lateran," which would emphasize doctrine and, with a preponderance of bishops from the Papal States in attendance, protect the prerogatives of the Curia.
But he knew he had no chance for that, and so he proposed what appeared to be the next best scenario. Mantua was a petty Italian city-state whose duke was vassal to the emperor; on June 2, , the pope, ignoring the unanimous advice of his cardinals, summoned a general council to convene at Mantua the following May and ordered all the bishops, abbots, and other prelates of the whole world to appear there. Immediately obstacles sprang up all around him. The duke of Mantua demanded a large papal army to garrison the town.
The Protestants promptly declined to attend because of the presence of this hostile force, and then, when security arrangements were altered to meet their objections, they refused anyway. The king of France also refused to participate or to allow any French prelates to do so. The emperor, pointing out how Francis I had connived with the Lutheran princes and even with the Turks, urged Paul III to join him in an assault upon the French and thus guarantee a successful council.
The war duly broke out in , but without the pope, who shrank from a step that might have provoked Francis into following the schismatic example of Henry VIII and that at the same time might have contributed to eliminating the only check upon Habsburg power, which he feared as much as the French king did. Instead, the pope postponed the Mantuan council twice, then translated it to Vicenza, postponed it again, and finally, in , suspended it altogether. The failure was more than a disappointment. It tended to sustain the view — not only among Protestants — that this pope was no more serious about reform than his predecessors had been.
Paul III did not help his cause much by the simultaneous campaign he was carrying on — in the best Renaissance style of his first mentor, Alexander VI — to make a ruling dynasty of his children and grandchildren. The Farnese did indeed become dukes of Parma, but only at the cost of diminishing further the pope's limited fund of goodwill. Even so, whatever Paul III's flaws of character, lack of persistence was not one of them. The intricate diplomacy involved in the conciliar enterprise never really ceased, even when the distrustful emperor turned to another tack and urged a conference of leading theologians, Protestant and Catholic, who could discuss all the religious discontents and find solutions to them.
The pope cooperated in this venture, but the distinguished participants in the Colloquy of Ratisbon, which occupied most of the summer of , failed to reach a meeting of minds. Any hope of religious reunion was fast slipping away. The pope responded by returning to his conciliar project. With the assent of the somewhat chastened emperor, he formally announced the opening of a general council for November 1, The site this time was Trent, a small italianized town northwest of Venice that was nevertheless an imperial free city and thus juridically "in German lands.
The process had consumed eleven years and had produced only thirty-four voting participants. It was no wonder the mood was somber throughout the Mass of the Holy Ghost and the formal reading of the bull of convocation, which reminded the fathers that their solemn task was to heal the confessional split, to reform those abuses that sullied Christ's body, and to promote amity among Christian princes.
Those princes, though their influence over the council was enormous, did not participate directly in its decision making, nor did anyone else outside the higher clergy. In its procedure Trent was more akin to the papal councils of the high Middle Ages than to Constance or Basel.
Franchise belonged only to the "fathers" of the council, that is, to the bishops present — not their proctors — and to the generals of the mendicant orders. The presiding officers were the legates appointed by the pope. They were empowered to set the agenda, although each bishop was free to request inclusion of any proposal he pleased. This arrangement met with few serious difficulties once the basic compromise between the pope's and the emperor's positions was accepted: The work schedule followed a consistent pattern.
It began with a "particular congregation," at which theologians and canonists would discuss the draft of a particular decree. The fathers formed the audience for these technical expositions. Then, meeting alone in a "general congregation," they debated the matter themselves until they reached agreement upon a final text.
A "session" was a public meeting at which that text was read out, formally voted upon, and promulgated at the council's decree. Since it was thought to have a liturgical as well as a juridical significance, a session was always convened in the cathedral or some other church. Between and the Council of Trent held twenty-five sessions, of which seventeen were substantive in the sense that they were occasions for the proclamation of doctrinal definitions and reform legislation, while the rest were ceremonial affairs.
The first particular congregation met on February 20, , to examine Luther's assertion of sola scriptura. On April 8, at the fourth session, the council declared that apostolic traditions, "which have come from the mouth of Christ or by the direction of the Holy Spirit and have been passed down to our own times," deserve to be accepted by believers "with as much reverence [pari pietatis ac reverentia]" as scripture itself.
The fifth session, on June 17, renewed earlier conciliar legislation setting up structures for the theological training of the parochial clergy and placed upon bishops and pastors a stern obligation to preach to their flocks every Sunday and holy day. On the dogmatic side this session issued six "canons," terse condemnatory statements on the Pelagian as well as the Lutheran view of original sin. Then began the most protracted debate of the council, devoted to the central Lutheran doctrine of justification.
The first draft of a decree on this controversial subject was submitted to the fathers on July 28 and promptly rejected. For the next seven months the arguments raged through forty-four particular and sixty-one general congregations, until finally an acceptable text was hammered out and promulgated at the sixth session, on January 13, There was nearly unanimous assent to the sixteen chapters of the decree and the thirty-three canons, which repudiated Luther's view of justification by faith alone.
But there was no such unanimity when the next great issue of reform was introduced. The fathers and their theologians wrangled through the succeeding months over the requirement that bishops reside in their dioceses.
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When the proposed decree was presented the first time, only twenty-eight fathers out of a total grown by early to sixty indicated their agreement by voting placet. The divisions over the matter were so deep that it had to be set aside for later consideration. The seventh session, on March 3, , therefore contented itself with asserting a bishop's right to supervise parishes in his diocese administered by members of religious orders.
The dogmatic decrees of the same session defined the nature of the sacraments, fixed their number at seven, and asserted their effective spiritual power ex opere operato. The doctrine of baptism and confirmation was also treated in detail. Meanwhile, in the midst of all this intellectual labor, various discontents revealed themselves. Trent was a small town with limited accommodations.
Its location made it a difficult place to supply with provisions, and its climate was harsher than the southerners in attendance were accustomed to.get link
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Many of the fathers complained of the discomfort in which they were forced to live. During the summer of , fighting between the emperor and the Smalcald League surged close enough to the city that dissolution of the council was seriously contemplated. This danger passed away, only to be replaced by a typhus epidemic that broke out in the vicinity early in and that caused the council to translate its deliberations to Bologna eighth session, March 11, The emperor was furious at what he considered the pope's maneuver to bring the council under his direct control by removing it to a city in the Papal States.
Fourteen imperialist bishops remained in Trent, but the majority of the fathers went dutifully off to Bologna, where they labored through intense debate in both particular and general congregations on the rest of the sacraments, the sacrificial character of the Mass, purgatory, veneration of the saints, and monastic vows — all doctrinal issues raised by the Protestant reformers.
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But Paul III allowed no formal sessions or decrees, lest he push the angry emperor too far. The significance of the Bologna phase of the council, until its suspension on February 16, , proved to be the use to which its work was put when the council assembled again at Trent three years later. Giovanni Maria del Monte, who had been senior legate during the first phase of the council, was elected pope in February and took the name Julius III. Immediately he came under pressure from the emperor to reconvene the council and, specifically, to get on with the business of reform.
The new pope faced many of the same political problems as his predecessor, and it was in the teeth of strong resistance from the German Protestant princes and the new king of France, Henry II , that the council reopened at Trent on May 1, Advanced Search Find a Library. Your list has reached the maximum number of items. Please create a new list with a new name; move some items to a new or existing list; or delete some items. Your request to send this item has been completed. Citations are based on reference standards.
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TRENT, COUNCIL OF
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