Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The Council of Trent: Part 1

I have recently purchased a copy of the Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent on CD-ROM. In addition, I have obtained a copy of "The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent" translated and introduced by Reverend H.J. Schroeder, O.P. Since no decrees of a Council may ever be contradicted, and since the Council of Trent has profoundly impacted the Church, I feel it is proper to study the anathemas issued by the Council.

First and foremost, "anathema" is defined thusly
"After the time of the apostolic church, the term anathema has come to mean a form of extreme religious sanction beyond excommunication, known as major excommunication. The earliest recorded instance of the form is in the Council of Elvira (c. 306), and thereafter it became the common method of cutting off heretics. Cyril of Alexandria issued twelve anathemas against Nestorius in 431. In the fifth century, a formal distinction between anathema and excommunication evolved, where excommunication entailed cutting off a person or group from the rite of Eucharist and attendance at worship, while anathema meant a complete separation of the subject from the Church."


The Council of Trent convened three times between December 13, 1545 and December 4, 1563 in the city of Trent, Italy. It opened primarily as a response to the theological errors by the Protestant Reformation and to clearly specify Catholic doctrines on such subjects as salvation, the Seven Sacraments, the Biblical canon, and the standardizing of the Mass.

The following is the first set of anathemas to come out of the Council. These come from the Fifth Session celebrated on June 17, 1546, which dealt with the topic of original sin. Additional posts will follow as this will be a regular series on my blog. It is important that we believe exactly what the Catholic Church teaches, so it is important to study the anathemas issued by the Council.

Fifth Session:

1. If any one does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he had transgressed the commandment of God in Paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice wherein he had been constituted; and that he incurred, through the offence of that prevarication, the wrath and indignation of God, and consequently death, with which God had previously threatened him, and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam, through that offence of prevarication, was changed, in body and soul, for the worse; let him be anathema.

2. If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul; let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.

3. If any one asserts, that this sin of Adam,--which in its origin is one, and being transfused into all by propogation, not by imitation, is in each one as his own, --is taken away either by the powers of human nature, or by any other remedy than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, santification, and redemption; or if he denies that the said merit of Jesus Christ is applied, both to adults and to infants, by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the church; let him be anathema: For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved. Whence that voice; Behold the lamb of God behold him who taketh away the sins of the world; and that other; As many as have been baptized, have put on Christ.

4. If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, even though they be sprung from baptized parents, are to be baptized; or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining life everlasting,--whence it follows as a consequence, that in them the form of baptism, for the remission of sins, is understood to be not true, but false, --let him be anathema. For that which the apostle has said, By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned, is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere hath always understood it. For, by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

5. If any one denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away; but says that it is only rased, or not imputed; let him be anathema. For, in those who are born again, there is nothing that God hates; because, There is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism into death; who walk not according to the flesh, but, putting off the old man, and putting on the new who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, harmless, and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, but joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to retard their entrance into heaven. But this holy synod confesses and is sensible, that in the baptized there remains concupiscence, or an incentive (to sin); which, whereas it is left for our exercise, cannot injure those who consent not, but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; yea, he who shall have striven lawfully shall be crowned. This concupiscence, which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin, as being truly and properly sin in those born again, but because it is of sin, and inclines to sin.

6 comment(s):

del_button February 15, 2007 at 12:38 PM
Anonymous said...

I'll read and comment properly later, but I wondered, can you post the ISBN of the book?

del_button February 15, 2007 at 12:49 PM
Matthew said...

I am using the translations from an Internet site, so they might not match the book word for word. But, it is extremely close if there happens to be one difference.



del_button February 28, 2007 at 9:49 PM
FloridaWife said...

Interesting. Very interesting. I love your blog because of everything I learn here.

It was a bit difficult to read through this post, BUT I made it all the way through.

This actually hits me close to home because my brother is married to a non-Catholic (she is Methodist) and they have not yet baptized my nephew, who is now one year old. Every so often, I bring baptism to my brother's attention. You just gave me more background to give my brother. Thank you.

del_button August 23, 2010 at 7:53 PM
Anonymous said...

Thanks for working on stuff like this. i'm working on a school theology project and this really helped. Anathema seems scary though, i know that God is just but it seems un Catholic to cut a peson off completely from the Church.... Shouldn't we reach out in love?
Pax en Christi

del_button March 10, 2011 at 3:50 AM
Anonymous said...

Isn't it true that the church baptised adults by full immersion prior to the Council of Trent ?
Clearly the original church at Rome baptised that way, symbolising burial of the old life for adults (no infant baptism) Romans 6/4

del_button July 13, 2018 at 12:57 PM
Blue said...

Now more than ever, it is important that Catholics know the true faith as it has been either corrupted, denied, ignored, doubted, made ambiguous, and/or mocked by those within the Church who are clearly heretics and some apostates, including every pope beginning with Pius VI.

Tragically, those who could benefit from your website which here points out the dogmatic teachings of the Council of Trent, will never access it because the majority of Catholics have been deceived into believing only Vatican II and its aftermath (of deceit, of sacrilege, of blasphemy) is the only true teaching of the Church.

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