Council of Trent

Council of Trent
Date1545–63
Accepted byCatholic Church
Previous council
Fifth Council of the Lateran
Next council
First Vatican Council
Convoked byPaul III
President
Attendance
about 255 during the final sessions
Topics
Documents and statements
Seventeen dogmatic decrees covering then-disputed aspects of Catholic religion
Chronological list of ecumenical councils
The Council of Trent meeting in Santa Maria Maggiore church, Trent.
(Attributed to Pasquale Cati da Iesi; 1588.)

The Council of Trent (Latin: Concilium Tridentinum), held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent (or Trento, in northern Italy), was the 19th ecumenical council of the Catholic Church.[1] Prompted by the Protestant Reformation, it has been described as the embodiment of the Counter-Reformation.[2][3]

The Council issued condemnations of what it defined to be heresies committed by proponents of Protestantism, and also issued key statements and clarifications of the Church's doctrine and teachings, including scripture, the Biblical canon, sacred tradition, original sin, justification, salvation, the sacraments, the Mass and the veneration of saints.[4] The Council met for twenty-five sessions between 13 December 1545 and 4 December 1563.[5] Pope Paul III, who convoked the Council, oversaw the first eight sessions (1545–47), while the twelfth to sixteenth sessions (1551–52) were overseen by Pope Julius III and the seventeenth to twenty-fifth sessions (1562–63) by Pope Pius IV.

The consequences of the Council were also significant in regards to the Church's liturgy and practices. During its deliberations, the Council made the Vulgate the official example of the Biblical canon and commissioned the creation of a standard version, although this was not achieved until the 1590s.[2] In 1565, a year after the Council finished its work, Pius IV issued the Tridentine Creed (after Tridentum, Trent's Latin name) and his successor Pius V then issued the Roman Catechism and revisions of the Breviary and Missal in, respectively, 1566, 1568 and 1570. These, in turn, led to the codification of the Tridentine Mass, which remained the Church's primary form of the Mass for the next four hundred years.

More than three hundred years passed until the next ecumenical council, the First Vatican Council, was convened in 1869.

Background information

Obstacles and events before the Council's problem area

Pope Paul III, convener of the Council of Trent.

On 15 March 1517, the Fifth Council of the Lateran closed its activities with a number of reform proposals (on the selection of bishops, taxation, censorship and preaching) but not on the major problems that confronted the Church in Germany and other parts of Europe. A few months later, on 31 October 1517, Martin Luther issued his 95 Theses in Wittenberg.

A general, free council in Germany

Luther's position on ecumenical councils shifted over time,[6] but in 1520 he appealed to the German princes to oppose the papal Church, if necessary with a council in Germany,[7] open and free of the Papacy. After the Pope condemned in Exsurge Domine fifty-two of Luther's theses as heresy, German opinion considered a council the best method to reconcile existing differences. German Catholics, diminished in number, hoped for a council to clarify matters.[8]

It took a generation for the council to materialise, partly because of papal reluctance, given that a Lutheran demand was the exclusion of the papacy from the Council, and partly because of ongoing political rivalries between France and Germany and the Turkish dangers in the Mediterranean.[8] Under Pope Clement VII (1523–34), troops of the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Charles V sacked Papal Rome in 1527, "raping, killing, burning, stealing, the like had not been seen since the Vandals". Saint Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel were used for horses.[9] This, together with the Pontiff's ambivalence between France and Germany, led to his hesitation.

Charles V strongly favoured a council, but needed the support of King Francis I of France, who attacked him militarily. Francis I generally opposed a general council due to partial support of the Protestant cause within France, and in 1533 he further complicated matters when suggesting a general council to include both Catholic and Protestant rulers of Europe that would devise a compromise between the two theological systems. This proposal met the opposition of the Pope for it gave recognition to Protestants and also elevated the secular Princes of Europe above the clergy on church matters. Faced with a Turkish attack, Charles held the support of the Protestant German rulers, all of whom delayed the opening of the Council of Trent.[10]

Other Languages
العربية: مجمع ترنت
беларуская: Трыдэнцкі сабор
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Трыдэнцкі сабор
български: Трентски събор
Cymraeg: Cyngor Trent
Bahasa Indonesia: Konsili Trento
македонски: Трентски собор
Simple English: Council of Trent
slovenčina: Tridentský koncil
slovenščina: Tridentinski koncil
српски / srpski: Тридентски сабор
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Tridentski koncil
Türkçe: Trento Konsili
Tiếng Việt: Công đồng Trentô