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Documents – Paul III Council of Trent-5

Session 5 – Council Of Trent

Session V – Celebrated on the seventeenth day of June, 1546 under Pope Paul III

Decree Concerning Original Sin Decree Concerning Reform Announcement Of The Next Session Notes

Decree Concerning Original Sin

That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God,[1] may, after the destruction of errors, remain integral and spotless in its purity, and that the Christian people may not be carried about with every wind of doctrine,[2] since that old serpent,[3] the everlasting enemy of the human race, has, among the many evils with which the Church of God is in our times disturbed, stirred up also not only new but also old dissensions concerning original sin and its remedy, the holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same three legates of the Apostolic See presiding, wishing now to reclaim the erring and to strengthen the wavering, and following the testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, of the holy Fathers, of the most approved councils, as well as the judgment and unanimity of the Church herself, ordains, confesses and declares these things concerning original sin:

1. If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the holiness and justice in which he had been constituted, and through the offense of that prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of god, and thus death with which God had previously threatened him,[4] and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil,[5] and that the entire Adam through that offense of prevarication was changed in body and soul for the worse,[6] let him be anathema.

2. If anyone asserts that the transgression of Adam injured him alone and not his posterity,[7] and that the holiness and justice which he received from God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has transfused only death and the pains of the body into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul, let him be anathema, since he contradicts the Apostle who says: By one man sin entered into the world and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.[8]

3. If anyone asserts that this sin of Adam, which in its origin is one, and by propagation, not by imitation, transfused into all, which is in each one as something that is his own, is taken away either by the forces of human nature or by a remedy other than the merit of the one mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ,[9] who has reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, sanctification and redemption;[10] or if he denies that that merit of Jesus Christ is applied both to adults and to infants by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the Church, let him be anathema; for there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.[11]

Whence that declaration: Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world;[12] and that other: As many of you as have been baptized, have put on Christ.[13]

4. If anyone denies that infants, newly born from their mothers’ wombs, are to be baptized, even though they be born of baptized parents, or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins,[14] but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam which must be expiated by the laver of regeneration for the attainment of eternal life, whence it follows that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins is to be understood not as true but as false, let him be anathema, for what the Apostle has said, by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned,[15] is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church has everywhere and always understood it.

For in virtue of this rule of faith handed down from the apostles, even infants who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this reason truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that in them what they contracted by generation may be washed away by regeneration.[16]

For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.[17]

5. If anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted, or says that the whole of that which belongs to the essence of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only canceled or not imputed, let him be anathema.

For in those who are born again God hates nothing, because there is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism unto death,[18] who walk not according to the flesh,[19] but, putting off the old man and putting on the new one who is created according to God,[20] are made innocent, immaculate, pure, guiltless and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, joint heirs with Christ;[21] so that there is nothing whatever to hinder their entrance into heaven.

But this holy council perceives and confesses that in the one baptized there remains concupiscence or an inclination to sin, which, since it is left for us to wrestle with, cannot injure those who do not acquiesce but resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; indeed, he who shall have striven lawfully shall be crowned.[22]

This concupiscence, which the Apostle sometimes calls sin,[23] the holy council declares the Catholic Church has never understood to be called sin in the sense that it is truly and properly sin in those born again, but in the sense that it is of sin and inclines to sin.

But if anyone is of the contrary opinion, let him be anathema.

This holy council declares, however, that it is not its intention to include in this decree, which deals with original sin, the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of God, but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed under the penalties contained in those constitutions, which it renews.[24]

Decree Concerning Reform


The same holy council, adhering to the pious decisions of the sovereign pontiffs and of approved councils,[25] and accepting and adding to them, that the heavenly treasure of the sacred books which the Holy Ghost has with the greatest liberality delivered to men may not lie neglected, has ordained and decreed that in those churches in which there exists a prebend or a benefice with an obligation attached, or other income by whatever name it may be known, set aside for instructors in sacred theology, the bishops, archbishops, primates, and other ecclesiastical superiors of those localities compel, even by a reduction of their revenues, those who hold such prebend, benefice or income, to expound and interpret the Holy Scriptures, either personally if they are competent, otherwise by a competent substitute to be chosen by the bishops, archbishops, primates, or other superiors of those places.

In the future such prebend, benefice and income shall be conferred only on competent persons and those who can themselves discharge that office; a provision made otherwise shall be null and void.

In metropolitan and cathedral churches, however, if the city be an outstanding and populous one, and also in collegiate churches that are situated in a prominent town, even though they do not belong to any diocese, provided the clergy there are numerous, where there is no prebend, benefice or income provided for this purpose, let the prebend that shall first become vacant in any manner whatever, except by resignation, and to which some other incompatible duty is not attached, be understood to be ipso facto and forever set aside and devoted to that purpose.

And should it happen that in those churches there is not any or no sufficient income,[26] let the metropolitan or the bishop himself, by assigning thereto the revenues of some simple benefice, the duties connected with it being nevertheless discharged, or by contributions of the beneficiati of his city and diocese, or otherwise, as may be most convenient, provide in such a way with the advice of the chapter that the instructions in Holy Scripture may be procured; so, however, that all other instructions, whether established by custom or any other agency, be by no means on that account omitted.

Churches whose annual revenues are scanty and where the number of clergy and people is so small that instruction in theology cannot be conveniently had therein, may have at least a master, to be chosen by the bishop with the advice of the chapter, to teach grammar gratuitously to clerics and other poor students,[27] so that afterwards they may with the help of God pass on to the study of Holy Scripture.

For this purpose let the revenues of some simple benefice be assigned to that master of grammar,[28] which he shall receive so long as he is engaged in teaching (provided, however, that that benefice be not deprived of the services due to it), or let some suitable remuneration be paid him out of the capitular or episcopal income, or finally, let the bishop himself devise some other arrangement suitable to his church and diocese, that this pious, useful and profitable provision may not under any feigned excuse be neglected.

In the monasteries of monks also, where this can be conveniently done, let there be instructions in the Holy Scriptures.[29]

If abbots prove negligent in this matter, let the bishops of the localities, as the delegates herein of the Apostolic See, compel them thereto by suitable measures.

In the convents of other regulars in which studies can conveniently flourish, let there be likewise instructions in the Holy Scriptures, which shall be assigned by the general and provincial chapters to the more worthy masters.

In the public gymnasia also where instructions so profitable and of all the most necessary have not thus far been instituted, let them be introduced by the piety and charity of the most religious princes and governments for the defense and increase of the Catholic faith and the preservation and propagation of wholesome doctrine, and where once instituted and neglected, let them be restored.

And that under the semblance of piety impiety may not be disseminated, the same holy council has decreed that no one be admitted to this office of instructor, whether such instruction be public or private, who has not been previously examined and approved by the bishop of the locality as to his life, morals and knowledge; which, however, is not to be understood of instructions in the monasteries of monks.

Moreover, those who teach Holy Scripture, as long as they teach publicly in the schools, and also the students who study in those schools, shall fully enjoy and possess in case of absence all the privileges accorded by the common law with regard to the collection of the incomes of their prebends and benefices.[30]


But since the preaching of the Gospel is no less necessary to the Christian commonwealth than the reading thereof, and since this is the chief duty of the bishops,[31] the same holy council has ordained and decreed that all bishops, archbishops, primates and all other prelates of the churches are bound personally, if not lawfully hindered, to preach the holy Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But if it should happen that bishops and the others mentioned above are hindered by a legitimate impediment, they shall be bound, in accordance with the provision of the general council,[32] to appoint competent persons to discharge beneficially this office of preaching.

If however anyone through contempt fails to observe this, let him be subject to severe punishment.

Archpriests, priests and all who in any manner have charge of parochial or other churches to which is attached the cura animarum, shall at least on Sundays and solemn festivals,[33] either personally or, if they are lawfully impeded, through others who are competent, feed the people committed to them with wholesome words in proportion to their own and their people’s mental capacity, by teaching them those things that are necessary for all to know in order to be saved, and by impressing upon them with briefness and plainness of speech the vices that they must avoid and the virtues that they must cultivate, in order that they may escape eternal punishment and obtain the glory of heaven.

But if anyone of the above should neglect to discharge this duty, even on the plea that for some reason he is exempt from the jurisdiction of the bishop, even if the churches are said in some way to be exempt, or perhaps annexed or united to some monastery that is outside the diocese, if the churches are really within their dioceses, let not the watchful and pastoral solicitude of the bishops be wanting, lest that be fulfilled:   The little ones have asked for bread, and there was none to break it unto them.[34]

Wherefore, if after having been admonished by the bishop they neglect their duty for a period of three months, let them be compelled by ecclesiastical censures or by other measures at the discretion of the bishop; and should he deem it expedient, let a fair remuneration be paid from the revenues of the benefices to another person to discharge that office, till the incumbent, having come to his senses, shall fulfil his own duty.

But if there should be found parochial churches subject to monasteries that are not in any diocese, and the abbots and regular prelates are negligent in the aforesaid matters, let them be compelled thereto by the metropolitans in whose provinces the dioceses are located, who in this matter shall act as delegates of the Apostolic See, and no custom, exemption, appeal, protest or counteraction shall impede the execution of this decree, till a competent judge, who shall proceed summarily and examine only into the truth of the fact, shall have taken the matter into consideration and given a decision.

Regulars of whatever order, unless they have been examined by their superiors regarding life, morals and knowledge and approved by them, may not without their permission preach even in the churches of their order, and they must present themselves personally with this permission before the bishops and ask from these the blessing before they begin to preach.

In churches, however, that are not of their orders they must, in addition to the permission of their superiors, have also that of the bishop, without which they may not under any circumstances preach in churches that do not belong to their orders.[35] This permission the bishops shall grant gratis.

But if, which heaven avert, a preacher should spread errors or scandals among the people, let the bishop forbid him to preach, even though he preach in his own or in the monastery of another order.

Should he preach heresies, let him proceed against him in accordance with the requirement of the law or the custom of the locality, even though that preacher should plead exemption by a general or special privilege; in which case the bishop shall proceed by Apostolic authority and as the delegate of the Apostolic See.

But let bishops be careful that a preacher be not annoyed by false accusations or calumnies, or have just cause of complaint concerning such.

Moreover, let bishops be on their guard not to permit anyone, whether of those who, being regulars in name, live outside their monasteries and the obedience of their religious institute, or secular priests, unless they are known to them and are of approved morals and doctrine, to preach in their city or diocese, even under pretext of any privilege whatsoever, till they have consulted the holy Apostolic See on the matter; from which See it is not likely that privileges of this kind are extorted by unworthy persons except by suppressing the truth or stating what is false.

Those soliciting alms, who are also commonly known as questors,[36] whatever their state, shall not in any manner presume to preach either per se or per alium, and shall, notwithstanding any privilege whatsoever, be absolutely restrained by suitable measures by the bishops and ordinaries of the localities.

Announcement Of The Next Session

This holy council also ordains and decrees that the next session be held and celebrated on the Thursday after the feast of the blessed Apostle James.

The session was afterwards prorogued to the thirteenth day of January, 1547.


1. Heb. 11:6.

2. Eph. 4:14.

3. Gen. 3:1 ff.; Apoc. 12:9; 20:2.

4. Gen. 2:17.

5. Heb. 2:14.

6. Cf. II Synod of Orange (529), c. I. Denzinger, no. 174.

7. See 1 Cor. 15:21 f.; II Synod of Orange, c.2. Ibid., no. 175.

8. Rom. 5:12.

9. See 1 Tim. 2:5.

10. See 1 Cor. 1:30.

11. Acts 4:12.

12. John 1:29.

13. Gal. 3:27.

14. Acts 2:38.

15. Rom. 5:12.

16. C.153, D.IV de cons.

17. John 3:5.

18. Rom. 6:4; C.13, D.IV de cons.

19. Rom. 8:1.

20. Eph. 4:22, 24; Col. 3:9f.

21. Rom. 8:17.

22. See II Tim. 2:5.

23. Rom. 6-8; Col. 3.

24. Cc. 1, 2, Extrav. comm., De reliq. et venerat. sanct., III, 12.

25. C.12 D.XXXVII; cc.1, 4, 5, X, De magistr., V, 5. Cf. also Sess. XXIII, chap. 18 de ref.

26. Sess. XXIV, chap. 15 de ref.

27. C.1, X, De magistr., V, 5; Sess. XXIII, chap. 18 de ref.

28. By the bull In sacrosancta of Pius IV (13 Nov., 1564) this master was bound to make a profession of faith.

29. To which Paul V by the constitution Apostolicae (1610) added instructions in Hebrew, Greek and Arabic.

30. C.5, X, De magistr., V, 5.

31. Cf. Sess. XXIV, chap. 4 de ref.; c.6, D.LXXXVIII.

32. C.15, X, De off. jud. ord., I, 31 (IV Lat., c.10).

33. Cf. Sess. XXIV, chap. cit.

34. Lam. 4:4.

35. C.13 (par. 6), X, De haeret., V, 7; Sess. XXIV, chap. 4 de ref.

36. C.14, X, De poenit. et remiss., V, 38; c.11 (par. 2), VI, De haeret., V, 2; C.2, in Clem., De poenit. et remis., V, 9. By the bull of Pius V, Etsi Dominici (1567), all indulgences which gave occasion for abuse by the questors were withdrawn.

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