Catholic Reaction : The Council of Trent

A.) The Council's Prehistory

In 1518 MARTIN LUTHER appealed the pope to hold a general council on German soil. Emperor CHARLES V. was opposed to a national council and actively promoted a general council during the 1520es and 1530es, to which both Catholics and Protestants were to be invited, under the precondition that the protestants restore the previous conditions before attending the council.
After having been debated and postponed again and again, the council was finally held in the city of Trent, located in the southernmost corner of the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation in 1545-47, 1551-52, 1562-63. The protestants - Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists and Anabaptists - were not represented.
The council was meant to be a forum where the reform of the church was to be discussed and it's unity to be preserved. Tragically, the Council was called to assemble more than two decades after it had been requested the first time. In the meantime, the protestant reformation had proceeded beyond a point of no return. The conditions made by Emperor and pope that the protestants would have to restore the previous conditions, i.e. to undo the reformation, made it impossible for the protestants to attend. This noncompliance was interpreted as disobedience and heresy; the Council, from the first day, was vehemently anti-protestant.

B.) The Council's Decisions

The Council adopted the ROMAN CATECHISM, a definition of what Catholics had to believe. The 7 SACRAMENTS - baptism, confirmation, eucharist, confession, marriage etc. were discussed and reconfirmed as Catholic dogma. The lists of saints were revised, the Catholic church reinvented itself.
In order to combat protestantism, lists of prohibited books were issued, Dominicans and Jesuits in charge of the INQUISITION made use of it in order to force people to reconvert. The Council of Trent launched a roll-back movement, the COUNTERREFORMATION.

Encyclopedic descriptions from Infoplease, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Das Konzil von Trient und die Auswirkungen auf Deutschland (The Council of Trent and its impact on Germany), from Zusammenfassende Deutsche Kirchengeschichte, in German
The Council of Trent, from Historical Theology, analytical, telegram style, concise
DOCUMENTS The Council of Trent : Canons and Decrees, ed. J. Waterworth 1848, from Hanover College
The Catechism of Trent, from Nazareth Resource Library; Catechism for Parish Priests, from Modern History Sourcebook
Council of Trent : Rules on Prohibited Books, from Modern History Sourcebook
The Tridentine Creed, from New Advent
Decree Concerning the Opening of the Council of Trent, from EWTN
Decree Concerning the Manner of Living and Other Matters to be Observed During The Council (1546), from EWTN
Decree Concerning the Symbol of Faith, 1546, from EWTN
Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures, 1546, from EWTN
Decree Concerning Original Sin, 1546, from EWTN
Decree Concerning Justification, 1547, from EWTN
Decree Concerning yhe Sacraments, 1547, from EWTN
Decree Concerning the Translation of the Council, 1547, from EWTN
Decree Concerning the Prorogation of the Session, 1547, from EWTN
Bull of the Resumption of the Council of Trent, from EWTN
Decree Concerning the Prorogation of the Session, 1551, from EWTN
Decree Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, 1551, from EWTN
The Most Holy Sacraments Of Penance And Extreme Unction, 1551, from EWTN
Decree For Proroguing The Session, 1552, from EWTN
Decree Suspending The Council, 1552, from EWTN
Bull For The Celebration Of The Council Of Trent, 1560, from EWTN
Decree Concerning The Choice Of Books And The Invitation Of All To The Council Under Public Protection, from EWTN
Decree For The Prorogation Of The Session, 1562, from EWTN
Decree For The Prorogation Of The Session, 1562, from EWTN
The Doctrine Of Communion Under Both Kinds And The Communion Of Little Children, 1562, from EWTN
Doctrine Concerning The Sacrifice Of The Mass, 1562, from EWTN
The True And Catholic Doctrine Concerning The Sacrament Of Order, Defined And Published By The Holy Council Of Trent In The Seventh Session In Condemnation Of Current Errors, 1563, from EWTN
Doctrine Of The Sacrament Of Matrimony, 1563, from EWTN
Session XXV - which is the ninth and last under the Supreme Pontiff, Pius IV, begun on the third and closed on the fourth day of December, 1563, from EWTN

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First posted in 2000, last revised on November 15th 2004

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