Council of Trent

Council of Trent, blog 4, Conclusion and Implementation

In one respect the Council of Trent was conciliatory, the original instructions were that the decrees of the council should not be critical of any individuals but should rather provide corrections to incorrect doctrine. On the other hand, the decrees of Trent with their repeating anathemas, as in whoever believes this or that, let him be anathema, whereas Vatican II is much more pastoral and respectful of other religious traditions.  But Trent was following time honored practice, many decrees of preceding councils used this anathema formula, notably the Fifth Ecumenical Council who pronounced anathemas on the monophysites, and when St Cyril for the Fourth Ecumenical Council pronounced anathemas against Nestorius.  The decrees of Trent by necessity were a condensation of the Council discussions, and this anathema format made them more strenuous and stricter than the original discussion. […]

Council of Trent

The Council of Trent, blog 3, Scriptures, Sacraments, Original Sin and Justification

The Council wanted to address Justification, a key issue with the Lutherans, but first they needed to address the doctrine of Original Sin of Adam when he and Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden.  The Catholic position on these two important doctrinal issues both at the Councils of Trent and Vatican II were not as far apart as the polemicists on both sides would claim.  Quoting O’Malley, “St Paul in Romans 5 and First Corinthians 14 taught that through Adam’s ‘Fall’ sin and death came into the world.”  According to St Augustine, “Adam’s sin was transmitted from parents to children and affected all members of the human race.  Although Christ redeemed the world from sin, concupiscence (tendency to sin) remained even in the baptized.” […]

Council of Trent

Council of Trent, blog 2, The First Session Begins

Medieval popes were reluctant to call church councils, fearful they would infringe on the power of the papal office.  Pope Clement delayed endlessly when the Holy Roman German Emperor Charles V pushed for a church council, and his successor, Pope Paul III, cancelled several attempts to call a council for pressing political reasons, including Charles V’s war against the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League of German princes, whom he thought he force to attend if they were defeated in battle.  By the time the first session of the Council of Trent was called interest in a church council had waned, consequently only 29 bishops attended initially.  Attendance was never overwhelming.  The Council of Trent met in three sessions called by three popes from 1545-1563, the last session had fewr than 300 bishops, many from Italy, still a small percentage of the 2,900 European prelates.  The rulers of Europe also encouraged or forbade their bishops and abbots to attend, depending on the politics at the time, so the national mix of bishops differed in the three sessions. […]

Council of Trent

Council of Trent blog 1 Calling the Council

Was the Council of Trent a reactionary council?  This is a common perception, that the Council of Trent initiated the Catholic Counter-Reformation to defend the Catholic Church from the influences of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther, and that the Vatican II Council was a rejection of Trent, steering the Catholic Church in a more liberal direction.  Father O’Malley’s history leads to a different conclusion, that the actual Council of Trent, as opposed to the later impressions of Trent, is really a progressive council that is a precursor to Vatican II.  Indeed, the documents of Vatican II and the subsequent Catholic Catechism both cite the Council of Trent extensively. […]