1.1 The council of Trent was one of the great turning points in the Catholic Church.
2.1 The aims of the council were to arrive at clear definitions of the Catholic
doctrine and to reform the discipline of the Church.
3 3 Sessions:
3.1 First Session: 1545-7
3.1.1 Much of the 1st Session was taken up with the problem
of salvation and justification by "Faith Alone", which
were central to Protestant teaching. Some bishops and
cardinals, and those who recognised the importance of
the biblical studies generated by humanism, looked
favourably on "faith alone" and tried to find a
compromise between earning salvation and
predestination. Lainez and Salmeron represented the
orthodox view and were allowed to start and sum up the
session on justification - Lainez being allowed to
address the assembly for three hours. Although Lainez
and Salmeron summer up the majority view, their
explanations impressed the assembled bishops/
22.214.171.124 There were 29 voting delegates, mostly Italian bishops with one English,
one French and one German bishops, and two from Spain. A debate at
once started on which should bediscussed first - discussing reform or
doctrine.Although a majority wanted reformfirst, the papal legates
secured a compromise by which bothsould be discuessed in parallel.
3.2 Second Session: 1551-2
3.2.1 In the second session, both thelogians commented on the doctrines of the Mass, including the
real presence. The Emperor Chrales V had wanted some compromise on the issue of whether
the laity in Germany should be allowed to take communion in Both kinds. This had been
allowed in some parts of central Europe and it would have been helpful to allow Lutherans who
returned to Catholicism to continue to receive both the bread and wine. Salmeron argued that
the true Catholic teaching was to take the break only and denounced attempts at compromise.
The Jesuits showed they were well thought of when discussing religious problems.
126.96.36.199 The reign of Julius III; Julius was an
effective legate at the Council of Trent, but
he enjoyed good living and promoted his
family to key positions (nepotism).
Although not against reform, he had too
much timidity and too little drive. He
possessed none of the greatness of Paul
III, but he did commission another report on
reform of the papal curia and ordered the
Council to return to Trent for its second
188.8.131.52 In the 2nd session
little was achieved;
no compromise was
given to protestant
were persuaded to
decrees had already
been passed in the
first sessionk so
there was no hope
of a reunion.
3.3 Third Session: 1562-3
3.3.1 The third Session of the council almost fell apart of the critical issue of the
nature of the authority of the bishops. The Spanish delegation of Bishops
argued that the presence and authority of a bishop in his diocese and indeed
the office itself, was commanded by divine law - that is, had its origins in
Christ himself, and not in the law of the Church. Therefore the status of
bishops was not given by the pope, and indeed the pope himself was the
most important bishop.
184.108.40.206 It had great implications. If the
bishop was in his diocese by
diving authority, then the pope
could not, for example, give
permission for a bishop to leave
his diocese for other work. This
greatly alarmed the Italian
Bishops in the papal court, most
of them whom would have had to
return to their dioceses.
220.127.116.11.1 The problem was that although
all Catholics recognised the
authority of the Pope, the
precise extent of this authority
was the subject of bitter
argument. Even the Jesuits,
with their supposed total
obedience to the Pope, only
accepted this when doing
18.104.22.168 It was Pope Pius IV's greatest achievement to recall the Council of Trent. The third session brought together
the work on discipline. There was a redefinition of the role of bishops: they had to stay in their diocese and
visit each parish at least once a year; preaching a pastoral work was their chief role; they had to be legitimate,
of a mature age and well educated. Celibacy was asserted. Duties were clearly define. Indulgence sellers and
relic merchants were banned (but not indulgences or relics themselves). Other decrees defined standards of
monastic life and the status of sacrament of marriage. Priests had to register marriages as well as baptisms.
22.214.171.124.1 It was affirmed that:
126.96.36.199.1.1 There were 7 sacraments
188.8.131.52.1.2 Belief in purgatory, the
veneration of saints and images,
pilgrimages and every traditional
practice of popular Catholicism
184.108.40.206.1.3 Good works were
essential to salvation, not
220.127.116.11.1.4 The only acceptable version of
the Bible was the Vulgate,
although its errors would be
corrected. Other translations, or
reading in the vernacular were
18.104.22.168.1.5 The traditions and teaching
authority of the Church were
on an equal footing to personal
interpretations of the scripture.
22.214.171.124.1.6 Laypeople should
only have bread at
126.96.36.199.1.7 The only orthodox
explanation for the Real
Presence of Christ on the
4 The Influence of the Jesuits at Trent:
4.1 Jesuits = Reliable supporters
of Catholic orthodoxy and
champions of papal authority.
The Council recognised their
unique organisation by
exempting them from the new
rule which said that a novice
should be accepted into an
order straight after his
noviciate and their schools
avoided a new tax to pay for
schools to return to train
priests. Their privileges given
by the popes were
4.2 Their close identification with
the papacy was a mixed
blessing. Although it gave them
high status in the Church, it
caused great resentment from
the other orders, and some
monarchs were suspicious
that their loyalties were with
the papacy and that there
were international papal
"agents". As the status of the
papacy declined in the 18th
century, demands were made
for their abolition, which
happened in 1773.
5 Who founded it?
5.1 The Council of Trent was Paul III's greatest achievement. It was the result of many
years od patient diplomacy. In 1534 Paul's knowledge of the German situation was
minimal, but he soon appreciated that the spread of Lutheranism into Scandinavia and
Germany, and the formation of Protestant military leagues, meant that a general council
had to be called to deal with the two problems of the spread of heresy and demands for
reform from both Protestant and liberal Catholics.
5.1.1 Paul called a council to meet at Mantua in 1536, which failed. It was not until
December 1545 that a council actually began its work at Trent. Paul had
managed to overcome considerable obstacles to make this happen:
6 Obstacles to Needed to Overcome to Make The Council of Trent happen:
6.1 The Emperor Charles V needed a general council to solve the religious division of Germany. He was faced
with a conflict with Francis I and pressure from the Ottoman Turks to the east. He needed soldiers and
resources from his German lands to sustain these conflicts. Religious compromise and reforms which met
Lutheran criticisms would reunite the empire and thus increase his political and military authority. He therefore
demanded that anycouncil must meet within the empire. Reform of discipline was his priority. However , the
price of his support for a council was complete support for Habsburg policy, which the pope could not agree
6.2 Francis I of France took the opposite view. He
opposed the calling of a general council because if
it reunited Germany it would increase Charles'
power. He could wreck the Council by refusing to
allow French bishops to attend.
6.3 A council held considerable dangers for the papacy. The Conciliar Movement of the 15th century had
undermined papal authority and since 1460 the popes had been strengthening their control over the Church.
Now, only a pope could call a council, but the Lutherans rejected any council called by the pope. Popes were
afraid that reform would begin with the pope and the papal curia itself. Paul III had to create a delicate balance
- confronting the Lutheran heresy was the first priority; any reform must not challenge the powers of the pope.
Any council must take place in Italy, where the pope could monitor its work. On the other hand, if a council
was seem merely as a papal rubber stamp, it would have littleattraction for many bishops. Free speech had to
6.4 There was political instability - dangers of war and actual wars between Francis I and
Charles V; between the German Protestant princes supported by Francis I againstthe
Emperor; and between the Emperor and the Turks.
6.5 Ways to reduce obstacles:
6.5.1 The issue of a venue was decided when Charles V suggested Trent in 1542. It was
technically inside the Holy Roman Empire, but south of the Alps. The only problems
were that it was bitterly cold in winter and had a fly-blown,frontier town atmosphere
with poor accommodation.
6.5.2 Paul III succeeded in establishing the
method of voting. In previous councils each
nation (English, French, ect.) had had one
vote. Paul insisted that voting should be by
individuals actuallypresent and only by
those with pastoral authority in the Church (
when Trent met, there were hundreds of
theologians, experts and representatives of
states also present)
6.5.3 Papal control was also secured byother decisions. The call for a
council must come from the pope; the sessions would be chaired by
three papal legates (representatives), who decided the agenda and
ruled on procedure; and the Council's decisions would be adisory
only, making recommendations for the pope to accept (or not).
7 Was it successful?
7.1.1 It strengthened the authority
of the Bishops. They were
now clearly responsible for
managing their dioceses.
Changed the attitude of
Bishops - it was no longer
acceptable to have bishops
treating their pastoral
7.1.2 The stress on an educated
clergy and seminaries
produced great benefits in the
long term, In 1600 there were
20 in Spain, 11 in Italy and
none in France. Even in 1630,
one half of Italian dioceses had
a seminary. It took time.
7.2.1 The Council was
silent on a number of
such as the role of
the new orders; the
role of the Inquisition;
the great missionary
work world wide; the
between Church and
state and the role of
women in the church.
7.2.2 Above all, the Council did not
define the exact position of the
pope within the church,
although the debate of 1562
had strengthened the papal
position. It said little about
reforming the papal curia
which had faced criticism for
7.2.3 The success of the
decrees on dicipline
depended on the support of
the secular rulers, but many
of the changes cut across
their own interests.
Bishops could not use their
new powers without their
support. Philip II accepted
the decrees in a limited
way and France and the
Imperial Diet, not at all.
7.3 The real winner was
the papacy - the
Council trusted it to
carry out its decrees.