The Theology of the Council of Trent:
(Dec. 13 1545 – Dec. 4, 1563) 25 Sessions
Also read Kerry pp. 175-179
25 year conflict within the Catholic Church preceded the calling of the council
political struggle between papacy and Charles V (HRE)
struggles between papacy and conciliarists for control
struggles between old and new learning, old and new piety within the church
struggles and schism between Protestants and R.C.
There is a sense in which Trent signals the end of the Catholic Reformation, at least in one sense of the term, and
marks the beginning of the “Counter Reformation.”
With the exception of very necessary practical reforms – ministry,
and ministerial education within the Church – Trent made few doctrinal adjustments.
There is a sense in which the
council signals the end of creative theology and renaissance attitudes in Catholic theology and marks the birth of a new
conservatism; a reactionary conservatism which, while it sought to harness the spiritual energy of the previous century
to the old Catholicism, Trent seemed more intent on distinguishing Catholic theology from Protestant theology.
this it accomplished with emphatic emphasis.
While it seems fool-hardy to attempt a consideration of all 25 sessions, those which deal with 1) revelation, 2) sin, 3)
justification, and 4) the several which touch upon the Mass seem to be of particular importance.
Session IV: April 8, 1546 “Concerning the Canonical Scriptures:"
“The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same
three legates of the Apostolic See presiding, keeps this constantly in view, namely, that the purity of the Gospel may be
preserved in the Church after the errors have been removed.
“This [Gospel], of old promised through the Prophets in the Holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of
God, promulgated first with His own mouth, and then commanded it to be preached by His apostles to every creature as
the source at once of all saving truth and rules of conduct.
It also clearly perceives that these truths and rules are
contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ
Himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down to us, transmitted as it were from
hand to hand.
“Following, then, the examples of the orthodox Fathers, it [the Council] receives and venerates with a feeling
of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and New Testaments, since one God is the author of both; also the
traditions, whether they relate to faith or to morals, as having been dictated either orally by Christ or by the Holy Ghost,
and preserved in the Catholic Church in unbroken succession.”
The list of approved biblical books includes: Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom (Ben Sirach), Sophonias, I, II,
Machabees, 1, and 2 Esdras, and Baruch, which are not in the Protestant Bibles.
And the council would also specify the