sources of catholic dogma 900-1000


JULIUS III 1550-1555


SESSION XIII (Oct. II, 1551)

Decree On the Most Holy Eucharist *

Chap. 5. Confession

899 From the institution of the sacrament of penance as already explained the universal Church has always understood that the complete confession of sins was also instituted by our Lord, [Jas. 5:16; John 1:9; (Luke 17:14)], and by divine law is necessary for all who have fallen after baptism [can. 7], because our Lord Jesus Christ, when about to ascend from earth to heaven, left behind Him priests as His own vicars [ Matt. 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23], as rulers and judges, to whom all the mortal sins into which the faithful of Christ may have fallen should be brought, so that they in virtue of the power of the keys may pronounce the sentence of remission or retention of sins. For it is evident that priests could not have exercised this judgment without a knowledge of the matter, nor could they indeed have observed justice in imposing penalties, if the faithful had declared their sins in general only, and not specifically and one by one. From this it is gathered that all mortal sins of which they have knowledge after a careful self-examination must be enumerated in confession by the penitents, even though they are most secret and have been committed only against the two last precepts of the decalogue [ Exo d. 20:17; Matt. 5:28], sins which sometimes wound the soul more grievously, and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly. For venial sins, by which we are not excluded from the grace of God and into which we fall more frequently, although they may rightly and profitably and without any presumption be declared in confession [can. 7], as the practice of pious persons indicates, may be passed over in silence without guilt and may be expiated by many other remedies But since all mortal sins, even those of thought, make men children of wrath [ Eph. 2:3] and enemies of God, it is necessary to ask pardon for all of them from God by an open and humble confession. While, therefore, the faithful of Christ strive to confess all sins which occur to their memory, they undoubtedly lay all of them before the divine mercy to be forgiven [can. 7]. While those who do otherwise and knowingly conceal certain sins, lay nothing before the divine bounty for forgiveness by the priest. "For if one who is ill is ashamed to make known his wound to the physician, the physician does not remedy what he does not know."* Furthermore, it is gathered that those circumstances also must be explained in confession, which alter the species of the sin, [can. 7], because without them the sins themselves are neither honestly revealed by the penitents, nor are they known to the judges, and it would not be possible for them to judge rightly the gravity of the crimes and to impose the punishment which is proper to those penitents. Hence it is unreasonable to teach that these circumstances have been conjured up by idle men. or that one circumstance only must be confessed, namely up by idle men, or that one circumstance only must be confessed, namely to have sinned against a brother.

900 But it is also impious to say that a confession, which is ordered to be made in this manner [can. 8] is impossible, or to call it a torture of conscience; for it is clear that in the Church nothing else is exacted of the penitents than that each one, after he has carefully examined himself and searched all the nooks and recesses of his conscience, confess those sins by which he recalls that he has mortally offended his Lord and God; moreover, the other sins which do not occur to him after diligent thought, are understood to be included in a general way in the same confession; for these sins we trustingly say with the Prophet: "From my hidden sins cleanse me, O Lord" Ps. 18:13]. But, truly, the difficulty of such confession and the shame of disclosing the sins might appear a burdensome matter indeed, if it were not alleviated by so many and such great advantages and consolations which are most certainly bestowed by absolution upon all those who approach this sacrament worthily.

901 Moreover, as regards the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, although Christ has not prohibited that one confess sins publicly in expiation for his crimes and for his own humiliation, and as an example to others, as well as for the edification of the Church offended, yet this is not commanded by divine precept, nor would it be advisedly enjoined by any human law that offenses, especially secret ones, be disclosed by a public confession [can. 6]. Therefore, since secret sacramental confession, which the holy Church has used from the beginning and which she still uses, has always been recommended by the most holy and most ancient Fathers in emphatic and unanimous agreement, the empty calumny of those who do not fear to teach that this is foreign to the divine mandate and is a human invention, and that it had its origin in the Fathers assembled in the Lateran Council [can. 8] is manifestly disproved; for neither did the Church through the Lateran Council decree that the faithful of Christ should confess, a matter which she recognized was necessary and instituted by divine law, but that the precept of confession should be fulfilled at least once a year by each and all, when they have reached the years of discretion. Hence, this salutary custom of confessing to the great benefit of souls is now observed in the whole Church during that sacred and especially acceptable time of Lent, a custom which this holy Council completely approves and sanctions as pious and worthy to be retained [can. 8; see n. 427 f.].


Chap. 6. The Minister of this Sacrament and Absolution

902 With regard to the minister of this sacrament the holy Synod declares false and entirely foreign to the truth of the Gospel all doctrines which perniciously extend the ministry of the keys to any other men besides bishops and priests [can. 10], believing that those words of the Lord: "Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven" [ Matt. 18:18; and "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained" [ John 20:23], were indifferently and indiscriminately addressed to all the faithful of Christ contrary to the institution of this sacrament, so that anyone may have the power of remitting sins, public sins by way of rebuke, if the rebuked acquiesces, and secret ones through a voluntary confession made to anyone. It also teaches that even priests who are bound by mortal sin exercise as ministers of Christ the office of forgiving sins by virtue of the Holy Spirit conferred in ordination, and that they are of an erroneous opinion who contend that this power does not exist in bad priests. However, although the absolution of the priest is the dispensation of the benefaction of another, yet it is not a bare ministry only, either of announcing the Gospel or declaring the forgiveness of sins, but it is equivalent to a judicial act, by which sentence is pronounced by him as if by a judge [can. 9]. And, therefore, the penitent should not so flatter-himself on his own faith as to think that even though he have no contrition, and that the intention of acting earnestly and absolving effectively be wanting in the priest, nevertheless he is truly and before God absolved by reason of his faith alone. For faith without penance effects no remission of sins, and he would be most negligent of his own salvation, who would know that a priest was absolving him in a jesting manner, and would not earnestly consult another who would act seriously. 

Chap. 7. The Reservation of Cases 

903  Therefore, since the nature and essence of a judgment require that the sentence be imposed only on subjects, there has always been the conviction in the Church of God, and this Synod confirms it as most true, that this absolution which the priest pronounces upon one over whom he has no ordinary or delegated jurisdiction has no value. It seemed to be a matter of very great importance to our most holy Fathers for the discipline of the Christian people that certain more atrocious and grave crimes should be absolved not by anyone indiscriminately, but only by the highest priests. Hence the sovereign Pontiffs, by virtue of the supreme power given them in the universal Church, could right fully reserve to their own exclusive judgment certain more serious cases of crimes. Neither should it be a matter of doubt, since all things which are from God are well ordered, that the same may lawfully be done by all bishops each in his own diocese, "to edification," however, "not to destruction" [2 Cor. 13:10], by virtue of the authority over their subjects given to them above other priests inferior in rank, especially with regard to those crimes to which the censure of excommunication is at- i tached. That this reservation of crimes has force not only in external administration, but also in the sight of God is in accord with divine authority [can. 11]. But lest anyone perish on this account, it has always been piously observed in the same Church of God that there be no reservation at the moment of death, and that all priests, therefore, may in that case absolve all penitents from any sins and censures whatsoever; and since outside this moment priests have no power in reserved cases, let them strive to persuade penitents to this one thing, that they approach their superiors and lawful judges for the benefit of absolution.


Chap. 8. The Necessity and Fruit of Satisfaction 


904  Finally with regard to satisfaction, which of all the parts of penance has been recommended by our Fathers to the Christian people in all ages, and which is especially assailed in our day under the pretext of piety by those who "have an appearance of piety, but who have denied the power thereof" [ 2 Tim. 3:51], the holy Synod declares that it is absolutely false and contrary to the word of God that the guilt is never forgiven by the Lord without the entire punishment also being remitted [can. 12, 15]. For clear and illustrious examples are found in the Sacred Writings [cf.Gen. 3:16 f.;Num. 12:14 f.; 20:11 f.;2 Samuel 12:13]. f., etc.], besides which divine tradition refutes this error with all possible clarity. Indeed the nature of divine justice seems to demand that those who have sinned through ignorance before baptism may be received into grace in one manner, and in another those who at one time freed from the servitude of sin and the devil, and on receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, did not fear to "violate the temple of God knowingly" [1 Cor. 3:17], "and to grieve the Holy Spirit" [ Eph. 4:30]. And it befits divine clemency that sins be not thus pardoned us without any satisfaction, lest, seizing the occasion [ Rom. 7:8], and considering sins trivial, we, offering injury and "affront to the Holy Spirit" [Heb. 10:29], fall into graver ones, "treasuring up to ourselves wrath against the day of wrath" [ Rom. 2:5; Jas. 5:3]. For, without doubt, these satisfactions greatly restrain from sin, and as by a kind of rein act as a check, and make penitents more cautious and vigilant in the future; they also remove the remnants Of sin, and destroy vicious habits acquired by living evilly through acts contrary to virtue. Neither was there ever in the Church of God any way considered more secure for warding off impending punishment by the Lord than that men perform these works of penance [ Matt. 3:28;4:17;11:21 etc.] with true sorrow of soul. Add to this that, while we suffer by making satisfaction for our sins, we are made conformable to Christ Jesus, "who made satisfaction for our sins" [Rom. 5:10 ;1 John 2:1 f.], from whom is all our sufficiency [ 2 Cor. 3:5], having also a most certain pledge from Him that "if we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified" [cf. Rom. 8:17]. Neither is this satisfaction which we discharge for our sins so much our own as it is through Jesus Christ; for we who can do nothing of ourselves, as if of ourselves, with the cooperation "of Him who" comforts us, "we can do all things." Thus man has not wherein to glory; but all "our glorying" [cf.1 Cor. 1:31 2 Cor. 10:17; Gal. 6:14] is in Christ, "in whom we live, in whom we move" [cf. Acts 17:28], in whom we make satisfaction, "bringing forth fruits worthy of penance" [ Luke 3:8] which have their efficacy from Him, by Him are offered to the Father, and through Him are accepted by the Father [can. 13 f.].

905  The priests of the Lord ought, therefore, so far as the spirit and pru- dence suggest, to enjoin salutary and suitable satisfactions, in keeping with the nature of the crimes and the ability of the penitents, lest, if they should connive at sins and deal too leniently with penitents, by the imposition of certain very light works for grave offenses, they might become participators in the crimes of others [cf.1 Tim. 5:22]. Moreover, let them keep before their eyes that the satisfaction which they impose be not only for the safeguarding of a new life and a remedy against infirmity, but also for the atonement and chastisement of past sins; for the ancient Fathers both believe and teach that the keys of the priests were bestowed not only to loose, but also to bind [cf. Matt. 16:19; John 20:23 ; can. 15]. Nor did they therefore think that the sacrament of penance is a tribunal of wrath or of punishments; as no Catholic ever understood that from our satisfactions of this kind the nature of the merit and satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ is either obscured or in any way diminished; when the Innovators wish to observe this, they teach that the best penance is a new life, in order to take away all force and practice of satisfaction [can. 13].

Chap. 9. The Works of Satisfaction 

906  It teaches furthermore that so great is the liberality of the divine munificence that not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken by us in atonement for sin can we make satisfaction to God the Father through Jesus Christ, or by punishments imposed by the judgment of the priest according to the measure of our offense, but also, (and this is the greatest proof of love) by the temporal afflictions imposed by God and patiently borne by us [can. 13].

The Doctrine of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction * 


907  It has seemed fit to the holy Synod to add to the preceding doctrine on penance the following matters concerning the sacrament of extreme unction, which was considered by the Fathers * the consummation not only of penance, but also of the whole Christian life which should be a perpetual penance. In the first place, therefore, as regards its institution it declares and teaches that our most clement Redeemer, who wished that a provision be made for salutary remedies at all times for His servants against all the weapons of all enemies, just as He made provision for the greatest aids in other sacraments by which Christians, as long as they live, can preserve themselves free from every very grave spiritual injury, so He fortified the end of life with, as it were, the most powerful defense, by the sacrament of extreme unction [can. 1 ]. For, although "our adversary seeks" and seizes throughout our entire life occasions "to devour" [1 Pet. 5:8] our souls in every manner, yet there is no time when he directs more earnestly all the strength of his cunning to ruin us completely, and if possible to drive us also from faith in the divine mercy, than when he sees that the end of life is upon us.


Chap. 1. The Institution of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction 


908  This sacred unction for the sick, however, was instituted by Christ our Lord as truly and properly a sacrament of the New Testament, alluded to in Mark [ Mark 6:13], indeed, but recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the Apostle and brother of the Lord [can. 1]. "Is any man," he says, "sick among you?" "Let him bring in the priestsof the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord and the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him" [Jas. 5:14, 15]. In these words, as the Church has learned from apostolic tradition transmitted from hand to hand, he teaches the matter, form, proper ministration, and effect of this salutary sacrament. For the Church has understood that the matter is the oil blessed by the bishop, since the unction very appropriately represents the grace of the Holy Spirit, with which the soul of the sick person is visibly anointed; and that these words are the form: "By this anointing, etc."

Chap.2. The Effect of the Sacrament

909  Furthermore, the significance and effect of this sacrament are explained in these words: "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he be in sins they shall be forgiven him" [ Jas. 5:15]. For the thing signified is the grace of the Holy Spirit, whose anointing wipes away sins, if there be any still to be expiated, and the remains of sin, and relieves, and strengthens the soul of the sick person [can. 2] by exciting in him great confidence in divine mercy, supported by which the sick person bears more lightly the miseries and pains of his illness, and resists more easily the temptations of the evil spirit who "lies in wait for his heel" [ Gen. 3:15], and sometimes attains bodily health, when it is expedient for the salvation of the soul.

Chap. 3. The Minister of this Sacrament and the Time

When it Should be Administered 

910  And now, as regards the prescribing of those who can receive and administer this sacrament, this, too, was clearly expressed in the words above. For it is also indicated there that the proper ministers of this sacrament are the presbyters of the Church [can. 4], under which name in that place are to be understood not the elders by age or the foremost in rank among the people, but either bishops or priests duly ordained by them with the "imposition of the hands of the priesthood" [1 Tim. 4:14; can. 4]. It is also declared that this unction is to be applied to the infirm, but especially to those who are so dangerously ill that they seem to be facing the end of life, for which reason it is also called the sacrament of the dying. But if the sick should recover after the reception of this sacrament of extreme unction, they can with the aid of this sacrament be strengthened again, when they fall into another similar crisis of life. Therefore, under no condition are they to be listened to, who contrary to so open and clear a statement of the Apostle James [ Jas. 5:14] teach that this unction is either a figment of the imagination or a rite received from the Fathers, having neither a command of God nor a promise of grace [can. 1]; and likewise those who assert that this has now ceased, as though it were to be referred to the grace of healing only in the primitive Church; and those who maintain that the rite and practice which t e holy Roman Church observes in the administration of this sacrament are opposed to the thought of James the Apostle, and therefore ought to be changed to another; and finally, those who affirm that this extreme unction may be contemned by the faithful without sin [can. 3] or all these things very manifestly disagree with the clear words of this great Apostle. Nor, indeed, does the Roman Church, the mother and teacher of all others, observe anything else in the administration of this unction with reference to those matters which constitute the substance of this sacrament than what the blessed James has prescribed. Nor, indeed, could there be contempt for so great a sacrament without grievous sin and offense to the Holy Spirit.

 These are the things which this sacred ecumenical Synod professes and teaches concerning the sacraments of penance and extreme unction, and it sets them forth to be believed and held by all the faithful of Christ. Moreover, the following canons, it says, must be inviolately observed, and it condemns and anathematizes forever those who assert the contrary.


Canons On the Sacrament of Penance * 


911  Can. 1. If anyone says that in the Catholic Church penance is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ our Lord to reconcile the faithful, as often as they fall into sin after baptism: let him be anathema [cf. n. 894].

912 Can. 2. If anyone, confusing the sacraments, says that baptism itself is the sacrament of penance, as though these two sacraments are not distinct, and that therefore penance is not rightly called "a second plank after shipwreck": let him be anathema [cf.n. 894 ].

913 Can. 3. If anyone says that those words of the Lord Savior: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins ye shall retain, they are retained" [John 20:22 f.], are not to be understood of the power of remitting and retaining sins in the sacrament of penance, as the Catholic Church has always understood from the beginning, but, contrary to the institution of this sacrament, distorts them to an authority for preaching the Gospel: let him be anathema [cf.n. 894 ].

914 Can. 4. If anyone denies that for the full and perfect remission of sins there are three acts required on the part of the penitent, as it were, the matter of the sacrament of penance, namely contrition, confession, and satisfaction, which are called the three parts of penance; or says, that there are only two parts of penance, namely the terrors of a troubled conscience because of the consciousness of sin, and the faith received rom the Gospel or from absolution, by which one believes that his sins ave been forgiven him through Christ: let him be anathema [cf. n. 896 ].

915 Can. 5. If anyone says that this contrition, which is evoked by examination, recollection, and hatred of sins "whereby one recalls his years in the bitterness of his soul" [ Isa. 38:15], by pondering on the gravity of one's sins, the multitude, the baseness, the loss of eternal happiness, and the incurring of eternal damnation, together with the purpose of a better life, is not a true and a beneficial sorrow, and does not prepare for grace, but makes a man a hypocrite, and a greater sinner; finally that this sorrow is forced and not free and voluntary: let him be anathema [cf. n. 898].

916   Can. 6. If anyone denies that sacramental confession was either instituted by divine law or is necessary for salvation; or says that the manner of secretly confessing to a priest alone, which the Catholic Church has always observed from the beginning and still observes, is alien to the institution and the mandate of Christ, and is a human invention: let him be anathema [cf.n. 899 f.].

917 Can. 7. If anyone says that in the sacrament of penance it is not necessary by divine law for the remission of sins to confess each and all mortal sins, of which one has remembrance after a due and diligent examination, even secret ones and those which are against the two last precepts of the decalogue, and the circumstances which alter the nature of sin; but that this confession is useful only for the instruction and consolation of the penitent, and formerly was observed only for imposing a canonical satisfaction; or says, that they who desire to confess all their sins wish to leave nothing to be pardoned by divine mercy; or, finally, that it is not lawful to confess venial sins: let him be anathema [cf. n. 899-901 ]

918  Can. 8. If anyone says that the confession of all sins as the Church observes is impossible, and is a human tradition to be abolished by the pious, or that each and all of the faithful of Christ of either sex are not bound to it once a year, according to the constitution of the great Lateran Council, and for this reason the faithful of Christ must be persuaded not to confess during the Lenten season; let him be anathema [cf.n. 900 f.].

919 Can. 9. If anyone says that the sacramental absolution of the priest is not a judicial act, but an empty service of pronouncing and declaring to the one confessing that his sins are forgiven, provided only that he believes that he has been absolved, or * even if the priest does not absolve seriously, but in jest; or says that the confession of the penitent is not required, so that the priest may be able to absolve him: let him be anathema [cf.n 902 ].

920  Can. 10. If anyone says that priests who are in mortal sin do not have the power of binding and loosing, or, that not only priests are the ministers of absolution, but that these words were spoken also to each and all of the faithful: "Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed in heaven" [Matt. 18:18; and, "Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained" [John 20:23 ], that by virtue of these words anyone can absolve sins, public sins indeed by reproof only, if the one reproved accepts correction, secret sins by voluntary confession: let him be anathema [cf. n. 902].

921   Can. 11. If anyone says that bishops do not have the right of reserving cases to themselves, except those of external administration, and that on this account the reservation of cases does not prohibit a priest from truly absolving from reserved cases: let him be anathema [cf. n. 903].

922  Can. 12. If anyone says that the whole punishment, together with the guilt, is always pardoned by God, and that the satisfaction of penitents is nothing other than faith, by which they perceive that Christ has made satisfaction for them: let him be anathema [cf. n. 904 ].

923  Can. 13. If anyone says that for sins, as far as temporal punishment is concerned, there is very little satisfaction made to God through the merits of Christ by the punishments inflicted by Him and patiently borne, or by those enjoined by the priest, but voluntarily undertaken, as by fasts, prayers, almsgiving, or also by other works of piety, and that therefore the best penance is only a new life: let him be anathema [cf. n. 904 ff.]. 

924  Can. 14. If anyone says that the satisfactions by which penitents atone for their sins through Jesus Christ are not a worship of God, but the traditions of men, obscuring the doctrine of grace, the true worship of God, and the very beneficence of the death of Christ: let him be anathema * [cf.n. 905 ].

925 Can. 15. If anyone says that the keys have been given to the Church only to loose, and not also to bind, and that therefore priests, by imposing penalties on those who confess, act contrary to the institution of Christ; and that it is fiction that, after eternal punishment has been remitted by virtue of the keys, there usually remains a temporal punishment to be discharged: let him be anathema [cf. n. 904].

Canons on Extreme Unction * 


926 Can. 1 If anyone says that extreme unction is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ [cf.Mark 6:13 ], and promulgated by blessed James the Apostle [ Jas. 5:14], but is only a rite accepted by the Fathers, or a human fiction: let him be anathema [cf. n. 907 ff].

927  Can. 2. If anyone says that the sacred anointing of the sick does not confer grace nor remit sins, nor alleviate the sick, but that it has already ceased, as if it had at one time only been a healing grace: let him be anathema [cf. n. 909].

928  Can. 3. If anyone says that the rite of extreme unction and its practice, which the holy Roman Church observes, is opposed to the statement of the blessed Apostle James, and that it is therefore to be changed, and can be contemned without sin by Christians: let him be anathema [cf. n. 910].

929  Can. 4. If anyone says that the priests of the Church, whom blessed James exhorts to be brought to anoint the sick, are not the priests ordained by a bishop, but the elders by age in each community, and that for this reason a priest alone is not the proper minister of extreme unction let him be anathema [cf. n. 910].

MARCELLUS II    PAULUS IV 1555 - 1559*

PIUS IV 1559-1565

COUNCIL OF TRENT, conclusion

SESSION XXI (July 16, 1562)

The Doctrine on Communion under both 

Species and that of Little Children *


929a The holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit with the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding has decreed that those things which relate to communion under both species, and to that of little children are to be explained here, since in different places various monstrous errors concerning the tremendous an most holy sacrament of the Eucharist are being circulated by the wiles of the evil spirit; and for this reason in some provinces many seem to have fallen away from the faith and from obedience to the Catholic Church. Therefore, it warns all the faithful of Christ not to venture to believe' teach, or preach hereafter about those matters, otherwise than is explained or defined in these decrees.

Chap. 1. That Laymen and Clerics who not Of Bring Mass are not

Bound by Divine Law to Communion under Both Species

930 Thus, the holy Synod itself, instructed by the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and piety, [Isa. 11:2]. and following the judgment and custom of the Church itself, declares and teaches that laymen and clerics not officiating are bound by no divine law to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist under both species, and that without injury to the faith there can be no doubt at all that communion under either species suffices for them for salvation. For although Christ the Lord at the Last Supper instituted and delivered to the apostles this venerable sacrament under the species of bread and wine [cf. Matt. 26:26 f.; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:23], f.], yet, that institution and tradition do not contend that all the faithful of Christ by an enactment of the Lord are bound [can. 1, 2] to receive under both species [can. 1, 2]. But neither is it rightly inferred from that sixth discourse in John that communion under both forms was commanded by the Lord [can. 3], whatever the understanding may be according to the various interpretations of the holy Fathers and Doctors. For, He who said: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you" [ John 6:54], also said: "If anyone eat of this bread, he shall live forever" [ John 6:52]. And He who said: "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood hath life everlasting" [ John 6:55] also said: "The bread, which I shall give, is my flesh for the life of the world" [ John 6:52]: and finally, He who said: "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him" [ John 6:57], said nevertheless: "He that eateth this bread, shall live forever" [ John 6:58].

Chap.2.The Power of the Church Concerning

the Administration of the Sacrament of the Eucharist 

931 It [the Council] declares furthermore that this power has always been in the Church, that in the administration of the sacraments, preserving their substance, she may determine or change whatever she may judge to be more expedient for the benefit of those who receive them or for the veneration of the sacraments, according to the variety of circumstances, times, and places. Moreover, the Apostle seems to have intimated this in no obscure manner, when he said: "Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ and the dispensers of the mysteries of God" [ 1 Cor. 4:1]; and that he himself used this power is quite manifest in this sacrament as well as in many other things, not only in this sacrament itself, but also in some things set down-with regard to its use, he says: "The rest I will set in order when I come" [ 1 Cor. 11:23]. Therefore holy mother Church, cognizant of her authority in the administration of the sacraments, although from the beginning of the Christian religion the use of both species was not infrequent, nevertheless, since that custom in the progress of time has been already widely changed, induced by weighty and just reasons, has approved this custom of communicating under either species, and has decreed that it be considered as a law, which may not be repudiated or be changed at will without the authority of the Church [can. 2].

Chap. 3. Christ Whole and Entire and a True Sacrament is 

Received under Either Species 

932  Moreover, it declares that although our Redeemer, as has been said before, at that Last Supper instituted this sacrament and gave it to the apostles under two species, yet it must be confessed that Christ whole and entire and a true sacrament is received even under either species alone, and that on that account, as far as regards its fruit, those who receive only one species are not to be deprived of any grace which is necessary for salvation [can. 3].

Chap. 4. Little Children are not 

Bound to Sacramental Communion 

933  Finally, the same holy Synod teaches that little children without the use of reason are not bound by any necessity to the sacramental communion of the Eucharist [can. 4.], since having been "regenerated" through "the laver" of baptism [ Tit. 3:5], and having been incorporated with Christ they cannot at that age lose the grace of the children of God which has already been attained; Nor is antiquity, therefore, to be condemned, if at one time it observed this custom in some places. For, just as those most holy Fathers had good reason for an observance of that period, so certainly it is to be believed without controversy that they did this under no necessity for salvation.

Canons on Communion Under Both Species

and that of Little Children * 


934  Can. 1. If anyone says that each and every one of the faithful of Christ ought by a precept of God, or by necessity for salvation to receive both species of the most holy Sacrament: let him be anathema [cf. n. 930 ].

935 Can. 2. If anyone says that the holy Catholic Church has not been influenced by just causes and reasons to give communion under the form of bread only to layman and even to clerics when not consecrating, or that she has erred in this: let him be anathema [cf. n.931 ].

936  Can. 3. If anyone denies that Christ whole and entire, who is the fountain and author of all graces, is received under the one species of bread, because, as some falsely assert, He is not received according to the institution of Christ Himself under both species: let him be anathema [cf. n. 930,932 ]. 

937  Can. 4. If anyone says that for small children, before they have attained the years of discretion, communion of the Eucharist is necessary: let him be anathema [cf. n.933 ].


SESSION XXII (Sept. 17, 1562)

The Doctrine on the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass*

937a The holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent lawfully assembled in the Holy Spirit with the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, has decreed that the faith and doctrine concerning the great mystery of the Eucharist in the holy Catholic Church, complete and perfect in every way, should be retained and, after the errors and heresies have been repudiated, should be preserved as of old in its purity; concerning this doctrine, since it is the true and the only sacrifice, the holy Council, instructed by the light of the Holy Spirit, teaches these matters which follow, and declares that they be preached to the faithful.


Chap. 1.[ The Institution of the Most Holy

Sacrifice of the Mass ] *

938 Since under the former Testament (as the Apostle Paul bears witness) there was no consummation because of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood, it was necessary (God the Father of mercies ordaining it thus) that another priest according to the order of Melchisedech [ Gen. 14:18 ;Ps. 109:4;Heb. 7:11] arise, our Lord Jesus Christ, who could perfect [ Heb. 10:14] all who were to be sanctified, and lead them to perfection. He, therefore, our God and Lord, though He was about to offer Himself once to God the Father upon the altar of the Cross by the mediation of death, so that He might accomplish an eternal redemption for them [edd.: illic,there], nevertheless, that His sacerdotal office might not come to an end with His death [Heb. 7:24, 27] at the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, so that He might leave to His beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice [can. 1] (as the nature of man demands), whereby that bloody sacrifice once to be completed on the Cross might be represented, and the memory of it remain even to the end of the world [ 1 Cor. 11:23 ff.] and its saving grace be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit, declaring Himself constituted "a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech" Ps. 109:4; offered to God the Father His own body and blood under the species of bread and wine, and under the symbols of those same things gave to the apostles (whom He then constituted priests of the New Testament), so that they might partake, and He commanded them and their successors in the priesthood in these words to make offering: "Do this in commemoration of me, etc." [ Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:23], as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught [can. 2]. For, after He had celebrated the ancient feast of the Passover, which the multitude of the children of Israel sacrificed [Exod. 12:1 ff.] in memory of their exodus from Egypt, He instituted a new Passover, Himself to be immolated under visible signs by the Church through the priests, in memory of His own passage from this world to the Father, when by the shedding of His blood He redeemed us and "delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into His kingdom [Col. 1:13 ]. 

939 And this, indeed, is that "clean oblation" which cannot be defiled by any unworthiness or malice on the part of those who offer it; which the Lord foretold through Malachias must be offered in every place as a clean oblation [Mal. 1:11 ] to His name, which would be great among the gentiles, and which the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians has clearly indicated, when he says that they who are defiled by participation of the "table of the devils" cannot become partakers of the table of the Lord [ 1 Cor. 10:21], understanding by table in each case, the altar. It is finally that [sacrifice] which was prefigured by various types of sacrifices, in the period of nature and the Law [ Gen. 4:4;8:20;12:8;22; Ex: passim], inasmuch as it comprises all good things signified by them, as being the consummation and perfection of them all.

Chap.2. [ The Sacrifice is a Visible Propitiation

for the Living and the Dead ] 

940 And since in this divine sacrifice, which is celebrated in the Mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who on the altar of the Cross "once offered Himself" in a bloody manner [ Heb. 9:27], the holy Synod teaches that this is truly propitiatory [can. 3], and has this effect, that if contrite and penitent we approach God with a sincere heart and right faith, with fear and reverence, "we obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid" [ Heb. 4:16]. For, appeased by this oblation, the Lord, granting the grace and gift of penitence, pardons crimes and even great sins. For, it is one and the same Victim, the same one now offering by the ministry of the priests as He who then offered Himself on the Cross, the manner of offering alone being different. The fruits of that oblation (bloody, that is) are received most abundantly through this unbloody one; so far is the latter from being derogatory in any way to Him [can. 4]. Therefore, it is offered rightly according to the tradition of the apostles [can. 3], not only for the sins of the faithful living, for their punishments and other necessities, but also for the dead in Christ not yet fully purged.

Chap. 3.[Masses in Honor of the Saints ] 


941  And though the Church has been accustomed to celebrate some Masses now and then in honor and in memory of the saints, yet she does not teach that the sacrifice is offered to them, but to God alone, who has crowned them [can. 5]. Thence the priest is not accustomed to say: "I offer sacrifice to you, Peter and Paul,'' * but giving thanks to God for their victories, he implores their patronage, so that "they themselves may deign to intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we celebrate on earth" [Missal].


Chap. 4. [ The Canon of the Mass ]


942 And since it is fitting that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and this sacrifice is of all things the most holy, the Catholic Church, that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, instituted the sacred canon many centuries ago, so free from all error [can. 6], that it contains nothing in it which does not especially diffuse a certain sanctity and piety and raise up to God the minds of those who offer it. For this consists both of the words of God, and of the traditions of the apostles, and also of pious instructions of the holy Pontiffs.


Chap. 5.[ The Solemn Ceremonies of the sacrifice of the Mass ]

943 And since such is the nature of man that he cannot easily without external means be raised to meditation on divine things, on that account holy mother Church has instituted certain rites, namely, that certain things be pronounced in a subdued tone [can. 9] in the Mass, and others in a louder tone; she has likewise [can. 7] made use of ceremonies such as mystical blessings, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind in accordance with apostolic teaching and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be commended, and the minds of the faithful excited by these visible signs of religion and piety to the contemplation of the most sublime matters which lie hidden in this sacrifice.


Chap. 6.[ The Mass in which the Priest Alone Communicates]

944 The holy Synod would wish indeed that at every Mass the faithful present receive communion not only by spiritual desire, but also by the sacramentalreception of the Eucharist, so that a more abundant fruit of this most holy Sacrifice may be brought forth in them; yet if that is not always done, on that account it does not condemn [can. 8], those Masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally, as private and illicit, but rather approves and commends them, since indeed these Masses should also be considered as truly common, partly because at these Masses the people communicate spiritually, and partly, too, because they are celebrated by a public minister of the Church not only for himself, but for all the faithful who belong to the Body of Christ.


Chap. 7.[ The Water to be Mixed with Wine 

to be Offered in the Chalice ]

945  The holy Synod then admonishes priests that it has been prescribed by the Church to mix water with the wine to be offered in the chalice [can. 9], not only because the belief is that Christ the Lord did so, but also because there came from His side water together with blood [ John 19:34], since by this mixture the sacrament is recalled. And since in the Apocalypse of the blessed John the peoples are called waters [Rev. 17:1, 15 ], the union of the faithful people with Christ, their head, is represented.


Chap. 8. [The Mass not to be Celebrated in the Vernacular,

and its Mysteries to be Explained to the People]

946   Although the Mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it has nevertheless not seemed expedient to the Fathers that it be celebrated everywhere in the vernacular [can. 9]. For this reason, since the ancient rite of each church has been approved by the holy Roman Church, the mother and teacher of all churches, and has been retained everywhere, lest the sheep of Christ suffer hunger, and "little ones ask for bread and there is none to break it unto them" [cf. Lam. 4:4], the holy Synod commands pastors and everyone who has the care of souls to explain frequently during the celebration of the Masses, either themselves or through others, some of the things which are read in the Mass, and among other things to expound some mystery of this most holy Sacrifice, especially on Sundays and feast days.

Chap. 9.[ Preliminary Remarks on the Following Canons ]

947  Because various errors have been disseminated at this time, and many things are being taught and discussions carried on by many against this ancient faith founded on the holy Gospel, on the traditions of the apostles, and on the doctrine of the holy Fathers, the holy Synod, after long and grave deliberations over these matters, has resolved by the unanimous consent of all the fathers, to condemn and to eliminate from the holy Church by means of the following canons whatever is opposed to this most pure faith and to this sacred doctrine. 

Canons on the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass * 


948 Can. 1. If anyone says that in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God, or that the act of offering is nothing else than Christ being given to us to eat: let him be anathema [cf. n. 938 ].

949 Can. 2. If anyone says that by these words: "Do this for a commemoration of me" [ Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:24], Christ did not make the apostles priests, or did not ordain that they and other priests might offer His own body and blood: let him be anathema [cf. n. 938 ].

950 Can. 3. If anyone says that the sacrifice of the Mass is only one of praise and thanksgiving, or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the Cross, but not one of propitiation; or that it is of profit to him alone who receives; or that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities: let him be anathema [cf. n. 940 ]. 

951  Can. 4. If anyone says that blasphemy is cast upon the most holy sacrifice of Christ consummated on the Cross through the sacrifice of the Mass, or that by it He is disparaged: let him be anathema [cf. n. 940 ].

952 Can. 5. If anyone says that it is a deception for Masses to be celebrated in honor of the saints and to obtain their intercession with God, as the Church intends: let him be anathema [cf. n. 941 ].

953  Can. 6. If anyone says that the canon of the Mass contains errors, and should therefore be abrogated: let him be anathema [cf. n. 942].

954 Can. 7. If anyone says that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church uses in the celebration of Masses, are incentives to impiety rather than the services of piety: let him be anathema [cf. n.943 ].

955 Can. 8. If anyone says that Masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally, are illicit and are therefore to be abrogated: let him be anathema [cf. n. 944].

956 Can. 9. If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned, or that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vernacular only, or that water should not be mixed with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice because it is contrary to the institution of Christ: let him be anathema [cf. n. 943, 945 f.].

SESSION XXIII (July 15, 1563)

956 a   The Doctrine on the Sacra ment of Orders

Chap. 1.[The Institution of the Priesthood of the New Law]


957  Sacrifice and priesthood are so united by the ordinance of God that both have existed in every law. Since, therefore, in the New Testament the Catholic Church has received from the institution of the Lord the holy, visible sacrifice of the Eucharist, it must also be confessed that there is in this Church a new visible and external priesthood [can. 1], into which the old has been translated [Heb. 7:12]. Moreover, that this was instituted by that same Lord our Savior [can. 3], and that to the apostles and their successors in the priesthood was handed down the power of consecrating, of offering and administering His body and blood, and also of forgiving and retaining sins, the Sacred Scriptures show and the tradition of the Catholic Church has always taught [can. 1].

Chap.2. [The Seven Orders]

958 Moreover, since the ministry of this holy priesthood is a divine thing, it was proper that it should be exercised more worthily and with deeper veneration, that in the most well ordered arrangement of the Church, there should be different orders of ministers [ Matt. 16:19; Luke 22:19;John 20:22 f.], who by virtue of their office should administer to the priesthood, so distributed that those who already had the clerical tonsure should ascend through the minor to the major orders [can. 2]. For the Sacred Scriptures make distinct mention not only of the priests, but also of the deacons [Acts 6:5 ; 1 Tim. 3:8 f.; Phil. 1:1], and teach in the most impressive words what is especially to be observed in their ordination; and from the very beginning of the Church the names of the following orders and the duties proper to each one are known to have been in use, namely those of the subdeacon, acolyte, exorcist, rector, and porter, though not of equal rank; for the subdiaconate is classed among the major orders by the Fathers and the sacred Councils, in which we also read very frequently of other inferior orders.

Chap. 3.[The Order of the Priesthood is Truly a Sacrament]

959 Since from the testimony of Scripture, apostolic tradition, and the un- animous consensus of opinion of the Fathers it is evident that by sacred ordination, which is performed by words and outward signs, grace is conferred, no one can doubt that order is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the Church [can. 3 ]. For the Apostle says: "I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the imposition of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sobriety" [2 Tim. 1:6, 7 ; cf. 1 Tim. 4: 14].

Chap. 4.[ The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy and Ordination]

960  But since in the sacrament of orders, as also in baptism and in confirmation, a sign is imprinted [can. 4], which can neither be effaced nor taken away, justly does the holy Synod condemn the opinion of those who assert that the priests of the New Testament have only a temporary power, and that those at one time rightly ordained can again become laymen, if they do not exercise the ministry of the word of God [can. 1 ]. But if anyone should affirm that all Christians without distinction are priests of the New Testament, or that they are all endowed among themselves with an equal spiritual power, he seems to do nothing else than disarrange [can. 6] the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is "as an army set in array" [cf. Song. 6:3], just as if, contrary to the teaching of blessed Paul, all were apostles, all prophets, all evangelists, all pastors, all doctors [cf. 1 Cor. 12:29; Eph. 4:11]. Accordingly, the holy Synod declares that besides the other ecclesiastical grades, the bishops who have succeeded the Apostles, belong in a special way to this hierarchial order, and have been "placed (as the same Apostle says) by the Holy Spirit to rule the Church of God" [Acts 20:29], and that they are superior to priests, and administer the sacrament of confirmation, ordain ministers of the Church, and can perform many other offices over which those of an inferior order have no power [can. 7]. The holy Synod teaches, furthermore, that in the ordination of bishops, priests, and of other orders, the consent, or call, or authority of the people, or of any secular power or magistrate is not so required for the validity of the ordination; but rather it decrees that those who are called and instituted only by the people, or by the civil power or magistrate and proceed to exercise these offices, and that those who by their own temerity take these offices upon themselves, are not ministers of the Church, but are to be regarded as "thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door" [cf. John 10:1; can. 8]. These are the matters which in general it seemed well to the sacred Council to teach to the faithful of Christ regarding the sacrament of order. It has, however, resolved to condemn the contrary in definite and appropriate canons in the following manner, so that all, making use of the rule of faith, with the assistance of Christ, may be able to recognize more easily the Catholic truth in the midst of the darkness of so many errors, and may adhere to it.


Canons on the Sacrament of Order *

961 Can. 1. If anyone says that there is not in the New Testament a visible and external priesthood, or that there is no power of consecrating and offering the true body and blood of the Lord, and of forgiving and retaining sins, but only the office and bare ministry of preaching the Gospel, or that those who do not preach are not priests at all: let him be anathema [cf. n.957 960].

962  Can. 2. If anyone says that besides the priesthood there are in the Catholic Church no other orders, both major and minor, by which as by certain grades, there is an advance to the priesthood: let him be anathema [cf. n. 958].

963  Can. 3. If anyone says that order or sacred ordination is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord, or that it is some human contrivance, devised by men unskilled in ecclesiastical matters, or that it is only a certain rite for selecting ministers of the word of God and of the sacraments: let him be anathema [cf. n. 957, 959 ].

964  Can. 4. If anyone says that by sacred ordination the Holy Spirit is not imparted, and that therefore the bishops say in vain: "Receive ye the Holy Spirit"; or that by it a character is not imprinted or that he who has once been a priest can again become a layman: let him be anathema [cf. n. 852].

965  Can. 5. If anyone says that the sacred unction which the Church uses in holy ordination, is not only not required, but is to be contemned and is pernicious as also are the other ceremonies of order: let him be anathema [cf. n. 856].

966   Can. 6. If anyone says that in the Catholic Church a hierarchy has not been instituted by divine ordinance, which consists of the bishops, priests, and ministers: let him be anathema [cf. n. 960].

967  Can. 7. If anyone says that the bishops are not superior to priests; or that they do not have the power to confirm and to ordain, or, that the power which they have is common to them and to the priests; or that orders conferred by them without the consent or call of the people or of the secular power are invalid, or, that those who have been neither rightly ordained nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical authority, but come from a different source, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments: let him be anathema [cf. n. 960].

968   Can. 8. If anyone says that the bishops who are chosen by the authority of the Roman Pontiff are not true and legitimate bishops, but a human invention: let him be anathema [cf. n. 960 ].

SESSION XXIV (NOV. 11, 1563)

Doctrine (Concerning the Sacrament of Matrimony) * 

969  The first parent of the human race expressed the perpetual and indissoluble bond of matrimony under the influence of the divine Spirit, when he said: "This now is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife' and they shall be two in one flesh" [ Gen. 2:23 f.; cf.Eph. 5:31].

 But that by this bond two only are united and joined together, Christ the Lord taught more openly, when referring to those last words, as having been uttered by God, He said: "Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh" [Matt. 19:6 ], and immediately ratified the strength of this same bond, pronounced by Adam so long ago in these words: "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" [ Matt. 19:6; Mark10:9].

 But the grace which was to perfect that natural love, and confirm the indissoluble union, and sanctify those united in marriage, Christ Himself, institutor and perfecter of the venerable sacraments, merited for us by His passion. The Apostle Paul intimates this, when he says: "Men, love your wives as Christ loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it" [Eph. 5:25], directly adding: "This is a great Sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church" [Eph. 5:32].

970 Since, therefore, matrimony in the evangelical law, by grace through Christ, excels the ancient marriages, our holy Fathers, the Councils, and the tradition of the universal Church have with good reason always taught that it is to be classed among the sacraments of the New Law; and, since impious men of this age, madly raging against this teaching, have not only formed false judgments concerning this venerable sacrament, but according to their custom, introducing under the pretext of the Gospel a carnal liberty, have in writing and in word asserted many things foreign to the mind of the Catholic Church and to the general opinion approved! from the time of the apostles, not without great loss of the faithful of Christ, this holy and general Synod wishing to block their temerity has decided, lest their pernicious contagion attract more, that the more prominent heresies and errors of the aforesaid schismatics are to be destroyed, decreeing anathemas against these heretics and their errors.

971  Can. 1. If anyone says that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelical Law, instituted by Christ the Lord,. but that it has been invented by men in the Church, and does not confer grace: let him be anathema [cf. n. 969 f.].

972  Can. 2. If anyone says that it is lawful for Christians to have several) wives at the same time, and that it is not forbidden by any divine law [ Matt. 19:4 f.]: let him be anathema [cf. n.969 f.].

973  Can. 3. If anyone says that only those degrees of consanguinity and, affinity which are expressed in Leviticus [18:6 f.] can be impediments to' the contract of matrimony and can dissolve it when contracted, and that the Church can dispense in some of these, or establish more to impede or;invalidate: let him be anathema [cf. n.1550 f.].

974 Can. 4. If anyone says that the Church could not establish impediments invalidating marriage [cf. Matt.16:19]; or that she has erred in establishing them: let him be anathema.

975 Can. 5. If anyone says that the bond of matrimony can be dissolved because of heresy, or grievous cohabitation, or voluntary absence from the spouse: let him be anathema.

976 Can. 6. If anyone says that matrimony contracted, but not consummated, is not dissolved by a solemn religious profession of either one of the married persons: let him be anathema.

977  Can. 7. If anyone says that the Church errs, * inasmuch as she has taught and still teaches that in accordance with evangelical and apostolic doctrine [ Matt. 10: 1 1Cor. 7] the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved because of adultery of one of the married persons, and that both, or even the innocent one, who has given no occasion for adultery, cannot during the lifetime of the other contract another marriage, and that he, who after the dismissal of the adulteress shall marry another, is guilty of adultery, and that she also, who after the dismissal of the adulterer shall marry another: let him be anathema.

978  Can. 8. If anyone says that the Church errs, when she decrees that for many reasons a separation may take place between husband and wife with regard to bed, and with regard to cohabitation, for a determined or indetermined time: let him be anathema.

979 Can. 9. If anyone says that clerics constituted in sacred orders, or regulars who have solemnly professed chastity, can contract marriage, and that such marriage is valid, notwithstanding the ecclesiastical law or the vow, and that the contrary is nothing else than a condemnation of marriage, and that all who feel that they have not the gift of chastity (even though they have vowed it) can contract marriage: let him be anathema. Since God does not refuse that gift to those who seek it rightly, "neither does he suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able" [ 1 Cor. 10:13 ].

980  Can. 10. If anyone says that the married state is to be preferred to the state of virginity or celibacy, and that it is not better and happier to remain in virginity or celibacy than to be united in matrimony [cf. Matt. 19:11 f.;1 Cor. 7:25 f.;28-40]: let him be anathema.

981  Can. 11. If anyone says that the prohibition of the solemnization of marriages at certain times of the year is a tyrannical superstition, derived from the superstition of the heathen, or condemns the benedictions and other ceremonies which the Church makes use of in them: let him be anathema.

982 Can. 12. If anyone says that matrimonial causes do not belong to ecclesiastical judges: let him be anathema [see n.1500a , 1559 f.].

SESSION XXV (Dec. 3 and 4, 1563)

Decree Concerning Purgatory *

983 Since the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Spirit, in conformitywith the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers in sacred councils, and very recently in this ecumenical Synod, has taught that there is a purgatory [see n. 940,950], and that the souls detained there are assisted by the suffrages of the faithful, and especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar, the holy Synod commands the bishops that they insist that the sound doctrine of purgatory, which has been transmitted by the holy Fathers and holy Councils, be believed by the faithful of Christ, be maintained, taught, and everywhere preached. Let the more difficult and subtle "questions," however, and those which do not make for "edification" [cf.1 Tim. 1:4], and from which there is very often no increase in piety, be excluded from popular discourses to uneducated people. Likewise, let them not permit uncertain matters, or those that have the appearance of falsehood, to be brought out and discussed publicly. Those matters on the contrary, which tend to a certain curiosity or superstition, or that savor of filthy lucre, let them prohibit as scandals and stumbling blocks to the faithful


Invocation, Veneration and Relics of Saints, and on Sacred Images *


984 The holy Synod commands all bishops and others who hold the office of teaching and its administration, that in accordance with the usage of the Catholic and apostolic Church, received from primeval times of the Christian religion, and with the consensus of opinion of the holy Fathers and the decrees of sacred Councils, they above all diligently instruct the faithful on the intercession and invocation of the saints, the veneration of relics, and the legitimate use of images, teaching them that the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their prayers to God for men; and that it is good and useful to invoke them suppliantly and, in order to obtain favors from God through His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who alone is our Redeemer and Savior, to have recourse to their prayers, assistance, and support; and that they who deny that those saints who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven are to be invoked, think impiously, or who assert that they do not pray for men, or that our invocation of them, to intercede for each of us individually, is idolatry, or that it is opposed to the word of God, and inconsistent with the honor of the "one mediator of God and men Jesus Christ" [cf.1 Tim. 2:5], or that it is foolish to pray vocally or mentally to those who reign in heaven.

985 That the holy bodies of the saints and also of the martyrs and of others living with Christ, who were the living "members of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit" [cf.1 Cor. 3:16;6:19 ;2 Cor. 6:16], which are to be awakened by Him to eternal life and to be glorified, are to be venerated by the faithful, through which many benefits are bestowed by God on men, so that those who affirm that veneration and honor are not due to the relics of the saints, or that these and other memorials are honored by the faithful without profit, and that the places dedicated to the memory of the saints for the purpose of obtaining their help are visited in vain, let these be altogether condemned, just as the Church has for a long time condemned and now condemns them again.

986 Moreover, that the images of Christ, of the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other saints, are to be placed and retained especially in the churches, and that due honor and veneration be extended to them, not that any divinity or virtue is believed to be in them, for which they are to be venerated, or that anything is to be petitioned from them, or that trust is to be placed in images, as at one time was done by the gentiles, who placed their hope in idols [cf. Ps. 134:15 f.], but because the honor which is shown them, is referred to the prototypes which they represent, so that by means of the images, which we kiss and before which we bare the head and prostrate ourselves, we adore Christ, and venerate the saints, whose likeness they bear. This is what was sanctioned by the decrees of the councils, especially that of the second council of NICEA, against the opponents of images [see n. 302 ff.].

987 Indeed let the bishops diligently teach this, that by the accounts of the mysteries of our redemption, portrayed in pictures or in other representations, the people are instructed and confirmed in the articles of faith which should be kept in mind and constantly pondered over; then, too, that from all sacred images great profit is derived not only because the people are reminded of the benefits and gifts, which are bestowed upon them by Christ, but also, because through the saints the miracles of God and salutary examples are set before the eyes of the faithful, so that they may give thanks to God for those things, may fashion their own lives and conduct in imitation of the saints, and be stimulated to adore and love God, and to cultivate piety. But if anyone should teach or maintain anything contrary to these decrees, let him be anathema.

988 If any abuses shall creep into these holy and salutary observances, the holy Synod earnestly desires that they be entirely abolished, so that no representations of false dogma and those offering occasion of dangerous error to uneducated persons be exhibited. And if at times it happens that the accounts and narratives of the Holy Scripture, when this is of benefit to the uneducated people, are portrayed and exhibited, let the people be instructed that not for that reason is the divinity represented, as if it can be seen with bodily eyes, or expressed in colors and figures. . .

Decree Concerning Indulgences * 

989 Since the power of granting indulgences was conferred by Christ on the Church, and she has made use of such power divinely given to her, [cf.Matt. 16:19; 18:18] even in the earliest times, the holy Synod teaches and commands that the use of indulgences, most salutary to a Christian people and approved by the authority of the sacred Councils, is to be retained in the Church, and it condemns those with anathema who assert that they are useless or deny that there is in the Church the power of granting them. . . . 


Clandestinity Invalidating Matrimony * 

[From Session XXIX Chap. (1) "Tametsi" on the reformation of matrimony]

990  Although it is not to be doubted that clandestine marriages made with the free consent of the contracting parties, are valid and true marriages, so long as the Church has not declared them invalid; and consequently that they are justly to be condemned, as the holy Synod condemns those with anathema, who deny that they are true and valid, and those also who falsely affirm that marriages contracted by minors without the consent of parents are invalid, and that parents can make them sanctioned or void, nevertheless the holy Church of God for very just reasons has always detested and forbidden them. But while the holy Synod recognizes that those prohibitions by reason of man's disobedience are no longer of any use, and considers the grave sins which have their origin in such clandes tine marriage, especially, indeed, the sins of those who remain in the state of damnation, after abandoning the first wife, with whom they made a secret contract, while they publicly contract another, and live with her in continual adultery, since the Church, which does not judge what is hidden, cannot correct this evil, unless a more efficacious remedy be applied, therefore by continuing in the footsteps of the holy Lateran Council [IV] proclaimed under INNOCENT III, it commands that in the future, before a marriage is contracted, public announcement be made three times on three consecutive feast days in the Church during the celebration of the Masses, by the proper pastor of the contracting parties between whom the marriage is to be contracted; after these publications have been made, if no legitimate impediment is put in the way, one can proceed with the celebration of the marriage in the open church, where the parish priest, after the man and woman have been questioned, and their mutual consent has been ascertained, shall either say: "I join you together in matrimony, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," or use other words, according to the accepted rite of each province.

991 But if at some time there should be a probable suspicion that a marriage m can be maliciously hindered, if so many publications precede it, then either one publication only may be made, or the marriage may be celebrated at once in the presence of the parish priest and of two or three witnesses; then before its consummation the publications should be made in the church, so that, if any impediments exist, they may the more easily be detected, unless the ordinary himself may judge it advisable that the publications be dispensed with, which the holy Synod leaves to his prudence and judgment.

992 Those who shall attempt to contract marriage otherwise than in the presence of the parish priest, or of another priest with the authorization of the parish priest or the ordinary, in the presence of two or three witnesses, the holy Synod renders absolutely incapable of thus contracting marriage, and declares that contracts of this kind are invalid and nil, inasmuch as by the present decree it invalidates and annuls them.

The Trinity and the Incarnation (against the Unitarians) * 

[From the ordinance of Paul IV, "Cum quorundam,"* Aug. 7, 1555]


993 Since the depravity and iniquity of certain men have reached such a point in our time that, of those who wander and deviate from the Catholic faith, very many indeed not only presume to profess different heresies but also to deny the foundations of the faith itself, and by their example lead many away to the destruction of their souls, we, in accord with our pastoral office and charity, desiring, in so far as we are able with God, to call such men away from so grave and destructive an error, and with paternal severity to warn the rest, lest they fall into such impiety, all and each who have hitherto asserted, claimed or believed that Almighty God was not three in persons and of an entirely uncomposedand undivided unity of substance and one single simple essence of divinity; or that our Lord is not true God of the same substance in every way with the Father and the Holy Spirit, or that He was not conceived of the Holy Spirit according to the flesh in the womb of the most blessed and ever Virgin Mary, but from the seed of Joseph just as the rest of men; or that the same Lord and our God, Jesus Christ, did not submit to the most cruel death of the Cross to redeem us from sins and from eternal death, and to reunite us with the Father unto eternal life; or that the same most blessed Virgin Mary was not the true mother of God, and did not always persist in the integrity of virginity, namely, before bringing forth, at bringing forth, and always after bringing forth, on the part of the omnipotent God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, with apostolic authority we demand and advise, etc.

The Profession of Faith of the Council of Trent *

[From the Bull of Pius IV, "Iniunctum nobis," Nov. 13, 1565]

994 I, N., with firm faith believe and profess all and everything which is contained in the creed of faith, which the holy Roman Church uses, namely: I believe * in one God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation descended from heaven, and became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; he was also crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and he rose on the third day according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven; he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, and will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose kingdom there shall be no end; and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke through the prophets; and in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins, and I await the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen. 

995  The apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and all other observances and constitutions of that same Church I most firmly admit and embrace. I likewise accept Holy Scripture according to that sense which our holy Mother Church has held and does hold, whose [office] it is to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures; I shall never accept nor interpret it otherwise than in accordance with the unanimous consent of the Fathers. 

996   I also profess that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the New Law instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, although not all are necessary for each individual; these sacraments are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, order, and matrimony; and [I profess] that the- confer grace, and that of these baptism, confirmation, and order cannot be repeated without sacrilege. I also receive and admit the accepted and approved rites of the Catholic Church in the solemn administration of all the aforesaid sacraments. I embrace and accept each and everything that has been defined and declared by the holy Synod of Trent concerning original sin and justification.

997  I also profess that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper sacrifice of propitiation for the living and the dead, and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially present the body and blood together with the soul and the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that there takes place a conversion of the whole substance of bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood; and this conversion the Catholic Church calls transubstantiation. I also acknowledge that under one species alone the whole and entire Christ and the true sacrament are taken.

998   I steadfastly hold that a purgatory exists, and that the souls there detained are aided by the prayers of the faithful; likewise that the saints reigning together with Christ should be venerated and invoked, and that they offer prayers to God for us, and that their relics should be venerated. I firmly assert that the images of Christ and of the Mother of God ever Virgin, and also of the other saints should be kept and retained, and that due honor and veneration should be paid to them; I also affirm that the power of indulgences has been left in the Church by Christ, and that the use of them is especially salutary for the Christian people.

999 I acknowledge the holy Catholic and apostolic Roman Church as the mother and teacher of all churches; and to the Roman Pontiff, the successor of the blessed Peter, chief of the Apostles and vicar of Jesus Christ, I promise and swear true obedience.

1000 Also all other things taught, defined, and declared by the sacred canons and ecumenical Councils, and especially by the sacred and holy Synod of Trent, (and by the ecumenical Council of the Vatican, *particularly concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching), I without hesitation accept and profess; and at the same time all things contrary thereto, and whatever heresies have been condemned, and rejected, and anathematized by the Church, I likewise condemn, reject, and anathematize. This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, (and) which of my own accord I now profess and truly hold, I, N., do promise, vow, and swear that I will, with the help of God, most faithfully retain and profess the same to the last breath of life as pure and inviolable, and that I will take care as far as lies in my power that it be held, taught, and preached by my subjects or by those over whom by virtue of my office I have charge, so help me God, and these holy Gospels of God.