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Documents – Under Julius III Council of Trent-14

Session 14 – The Council Of Trent

Session XIV – The fourth under the Supreme Pontiff, Julius III, celebrated on the twenty-fifth day of November, 1551


The Most Holy Sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction The Doctrine of the Sacrament of Extreme Unction Canons Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of Penance Canons Concerning the Sacrament of Extreme Unction Decree Concerning Reform Notes

The Most Holy Sacraments Of Penance And Extreme Unction

Though the holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legate and nuncios of the holy Apostolic See presiding, has in the decree on justification,[1] by reason of a certain necessity induced by the affinity of the subjects, given much consideration to the sacrament of penance, yet so great is in our days the number of errors relative to this sacrament, that it will be of no little general benefit to give to it a more exact and complete definition, in which all errors having under the guidance of the Holy Ghost been pointed out and refuted, Catholic truth may be made clear and resplendent, which [truth] this holy council now sets before all Christians to be observed for all time.


If in all those regenerated such gratitude were given to God that they constantly safeguarded the justice received in baptism by His bounty and grace, there would have been no need for another sacrament besides that of baptism to be instituted for the remission of sins.[2] But since God, rich in mercy,[3] knoweth our frame,[4] He has a remedy of life even to those who may after baptism have delivered themselves up to the servitude of sin and the power of the devil, namely, the sacrament of penance, by which the benefit of Christ’s death is applied to those who have fallen after baptism. Penance was indeed necessary at all times for all men who had stained themselves by mortal sin,[5] even for those who desired to be cleansed by the sacrament of baptism, in order to obtain grace and justice; so that their wickedness being renounced and amended, they might with a hatred of sin and a sincere sorrow of heart detest so great an offense against God. Wherefore the Prophet says: Be converted and do penance for all your iniquities, and iniquity shall not be your ruin.[6] The Lord also said: Except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish;[7] and Peter the Prince of the Apostles, recommending penance to sinners about to receive baptism, said: <Do penance and be baptized every one of you.>[8] Moreover, neither before the coming of Christ was penance a sacrament nor is it such since His coming to anyone before baptism. But the Lord then especially instituted the sacrament of penance when, after being risen from the dead, He breathed upon His disciples, and said: <Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.>[9] The consensus of all the Fathers has always acknowledged that by this action so sublime and words so clear the power of forgiving and retaining sins was given to the Apostles and their lawful successors for reconciling the faithful who have fallen after baptism, and the Catholic Church with good reason repudiated and condemned as heretics the Novatians, who of old stubbornly denied that power of forgiving.[10] Therefore, this holy council, approving and receiving that perfectly true meaning of the above words of the Lord, condemns the grotesque interpretations of those who, contrary to the institution of this sacrament, wrongly contort those words to refer to the power of preaching the word of God and of making known the Gospel of Christ.


Besides, it is clear that this sacrament is in many respects different from baptism.[11] For apart from the fact that in matter and form, which constitute the essence of a sacrament, it differs very widely, it is beyond question that the minister of baptism need not be a judge, since the Church exercises judgment on no one who has not entered it through the gate of baptism. <For what have I to do, says St. Paul, to judge them that are without?>[12] It is otherwise with regard to those who are of the household of the faith, whom Christ the Lord has once by the laver of baptism made members of His own body.[13] For these, if they should afterward have defiled themselves by some crime, He wished not to have cleansed by the repetition of baptism, since that is in no manner lawful in the Catholic Church, but to be placed as culprits before this tribunal that by the sentence of the priests they may be absolved, not only once but as often as, repentant of the sins committed, they should turn themselves thereto. Moreover, the fruit of baptism is one thing, that of penance another. For by baptism <we put on Christ>[14] and are made in Him an entirely new creature, receiving a full and complete remission of all sins; to which newness and integrity, however, we are by no means able to arrive by the sacrament of penance without many tears and labors on our part, divine justice demanding this, so that penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers a laborious kind of baptism. This sacrament of penance is for those who have fallen after baptism necessary for salvation, as baptism is for those who have not yet been regenerated.


The holy council teaches furthermore, that the form of the sacrament of penance, in which its efficacy chiefly consists, are those words of the minister: I absolve thee, etc., to which are indeed laudably added certain prayers according to the custom of holy Church, which, however, do not by any means belong to the essence of the form nor are they necessary for the administration of the sacrament. But the acts of the penitent himself, namely, contrition,[15] confession and satisfaction, constitute the matter of this sacrament, which acts, inasmuch as they are by God’s institution required in the penitent for the integrity of the sacrament and for the full and complete remission of sins, are for this reason called the parts of penance. But that which is signified and produced by this sacrament is, so far as its force and efficacy are concerned, reconciliation with God, which sometimes, in persons who are pious and who receive this sacrament with devotion, is wont to be followed by peace and serenity of conscience with an exceedingly great consolation of spirit. The holy council, while declaring these things regarding the parts and effect of this sacrament, at the same time condemns the opinions of those who maintain that faith and the terrors that agitate conscience are parts of penance.


Contrition, which holds the first place among the aforesaid acts of the penitent, is a sorrow of mind and a detestation for sin committed with the purpose of not sinning in the future.[16] This feeling of contrition was at all times necessary for obtaining the forgiveness of sins and thus indeed It prepares one who has fallen after baptism for the remission of sins, if it is united with confidence in the divine mercy and with the desire to perform the other things that are required to receive this sacrament in the proper manner. The holy council declares therefore, that this contrition implies not only an abstention from sin and the resolution and beginning of a new life, but also a hatred of the old,[17] according to the statement: <Cast away from you all your transgressions by which you have transgressed, and make to yourselves a new heart and a mew spirit.>[18] And certainly he who has pondered those lamentations of the saints: <To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee;[19] have labored in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed;[20] I will recount to thee all my years in the bitterness of my soul,>[21] and others of this kind, will easily understand that they issued from an overwhelming hatred of their past life and from a profound detestation of sins. The council teaches furthermore, that though it happens sometimes that this contrition is perfect through charity and reconciles man to God before this sacrament is actually received, this reconciliation, nevertheless, is not to be ascribed to the contrition itself without a desire of the sacrament, which desire is included in it. As to imperfect contrition, which is called attrition, since it commonly arises either from the consideration of the heinousness of sin or from the fear of hell and of punishment, the council declares that if it renounces the desire to sin and hopes for pardon, it not only does not make one a hypocrite and a greater sinner, but is even a gift of God and an impulse of the Holy Ghost, not indeed as already dwelling in the penitent, but only moving him, with which assistance the penitent prepares a way for himself unto justice.

And though without the sacrament of penance it cannot per se lead the sinner to justification, it does, however, dispose him to obtain the grace of God in the sacrament of penance. For, struck salutarily by this fear, the Ninivites, moved by the dreadful preaching of Jonas, did penance and obtained mercy from the Lord.[22] Falsely therefore do some accuse Catholic writers, as if they maintain that the sacrament of penance confers grace without any pious exertion on the part of those receiving it, something that the Church of God has never taught or ever accepted. Falsely also do they assert that contrition is extorted and forced, and not free and voluntary.


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 the Lord and is by divine law necessary for all who have fallen after baptism;[23] because our Lord Jesus Christ, when about to ascend from earth to heaven, left behind Him priests, His own vicars,[24] as rulers and judges,[25] to whom all the mortal sins into which the faithful of Christ may have fallen should be brought in order that they may, in virtue of the power of the keys, 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 have observed justice in imposing penalties, had the faithful declared their sins in general only and not specifically and one by one. From which it is clear that all mortal sins of which they have knowledge after a diligent self-examination, must be enumerated by the penitents in confession,[26] even though they are most secret and have been committed only against the two last precepts of the Decalogue;[27] which sins sometimes injure the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those that are committed openly. Venial sins, on the other hand, by which we are not excluded from the grace of God and into which we fall more frequently,[28] though they may be rightly and profitably and without any presumption declared in confession, as the practice of pious people evinces, may, nevertheless, be omitted without guilt and can be expiated by many other remedies. But since all mortal sins, even those of thought, make men <children of wrath>[29] and enemies of God, it is necessary to seek pardon of all of them from God by an open and humble confession. While therefore the faithful of Christ strive to confess all sins that come to their memory, they no doubt lay all of them before the divine mercy for forgiveness; while those who do otherwise and knowingly conceal certain ones, lay nothing before the divine goodness to be forgiven through the priest; for if one sick be ashamed to make known his wound to the physician, the latter does not remedy what he does not know. It is evident furthermore, that those circumstances that change the species of the sin are also to be explained in confession, for without them the sins themselves are neither integrally set forth by the penitent nor are they known to the judges, and it would be impossible for them to estimate rightly the grievousness of the crimes and to impose the punishment due to the penitents on account of them. Hence it is unreasonable to teach that these circumstances have been devised by idle men, or that one circumstance only is to be confessed, namely, to have sinned against another. It is also malicious to say that confession, commanded to be made in this manner, is impossible, or to call it a torture of consciences; for it is known that in the Church nothing else is required of penitents than that each one, after he has diligently examined himself and searched all the folds and corners of his conscience, confess those sins by which he remembers to have mortally offended his Lord and God; while the other sins of which he has after diligent thought no recollection, are understood to be in a general way included in the same confession; for which sins we confidently say with the Prophet: <From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord.>[30] But the difficulty of such a confession and the shame of disclosing the sins might indeed appear a burdensome matter, if it were not lightened by so many and so great advantages and consolations, which are most certainly bestowed by absolution upon all who approach this sacrament worthily. Moreover, as regards the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, although Christ has not forbidden that one may in expiation for his crimes and for his own humiliation, for an example to others as well as for the edification of the Church thus scandalized, confess his offenses publicly, yet this is not commanded by divine precept; nor would it be very prudent to enjoin by human law that offenses, especially secret ones, should be divulged by a public confession. Wherefore, since secret sacramental confession, which holy Church has used from the beginning and still uses, has always been recommended by the most holy and most ancient Fathers with great and unanimous agreement, the empty calumny of those who do not fear to teach that it is foreign to the divine command, is of human origin and owes its existence to the Fathers assembled in the Lateran Council,[31] is convincingly disproved. For the Church did not through the Lateran Council decree that the faithful of Christ should confess, a thing that she recognized as of divine law and necessary, but that the precept of confession should be complied with by each and all at least once a year when they have attained the age of discretion. Hence this salutary custom of confessing during that sacred and most acceptable period of Lent is now observed in the whole Church to the great benefit of the souls of the faithful, which custom this holy council completely endorses and sanctions as pious and worthy of retention.


With regard to the minister of this sacrament, the holy council declares false and absolutely foreign to the truth of the Gospel all doctrines which perniciously extend the ministry of the keys to all other men besides bishops and priests,[32] in the belief 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;>[33] and, <Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained,>[34] were, contrary to the institution of this sacrament, addressed indifferently and indiscriminately to all the faithful of Christ in such manner that everyone has the power of forgiving sins, public ones by way of rebuke, if the one rebuked complies, and secret ones by way of a voluntary confession made to anyone.[35] It [the council] teaches furthermore that even priests who are in mortal sin exercise, through the power of the Holy Ghost conferred in ordination,[36] as ministers of Christ the office of forgiving sins, and that the opinion of those is erroneous who maintain that bad priests do not possess this power. But although the absolution of the priest is the dispensation of another’s bounty, yet it is not a bare ministry only, either of proclaiming the Gospel or of declaring that sins are forgiven, but it is after the manner of a judicial act,[37] by which sentence is pronounced by him as by a judge. The penitent, therefore, ought not so flatter himself on his own faith as to think that even though he have no contrition and there be wanting on the part of the priest the intention to act earnestly and absolve effectively, he is nevertheless really and in the sight of God absolved by reason of faith alone. For faith without penance effects no remission of sins, and he would be most negligent of his salvation who, knowing that a priest absolved him jokingly, would not diligently seek another who would act earnestly.


Wherefore, since the nature of a judgment requires that sentence be imposed only on subjects, the Church of God has always maintained and this council confirms it as most true, that the absolution which a priest pronounces upon one over whom he has neither ordinary nor delegated jurisdiction ought to be invalid.[38] To our most holy Fathers it seemed to be a matter of great importance to the discipline of the Christian people, that certain more atrocious and grave crimes should be absolved not by all but only by the highest priests;[39] whence the sovereign pontiffs in virtue of the supreme authority given to them in the universal Church could with right reserve to their own exclusive judgment certain more grave cases of crimes.[40] And since all things that are from God are well ordered,[41] it is not to be doubted that the same may be lawfully done by all bishops, each in his own diocese,[42] unto edification however, not unto destruction, in virtue of the authority over their subjects that is given to them above other priests inferior in rank, especially in regard to those crimes that carry with them the censure of excommunication. That this reservation of crimes have effect not only in external administration but also in God’s sight is in accord with divine authority. But that no one may on this account perish, it has always been very piously observed in the same Church of God that there be no reservation in <articulo mortis>,[43] and that all priests, therefore, may in that case absolve all penitents from all sins and censures; and since outside of this single instance priests have no power in reserved cases, let them strive to persuade penitents to do this one thing, betake themselves to superiors and lawful judges for the benefit of absolution.


Finally, in regard to satisfaction, which, of all the parts of penance, just as it is that which has at all times been recommended to the Christian people by our Fathers, so it is the one which chiefly in our age is under the high-sounding pretext of piety assailed by those who <have an appearance of piety, but have denied the power thereof>,[44] the holy council declares that it is absolutely false and contrary to the word of God, that the guilt is never remitted by the Lord without the entire punishment being remitted also.[45] For clear and outstanding examples are found in the sacred writings,[46] by which, besides divine tradition, this error is refuted in the plainest manner. Indeed the nature of divine justice seems to demand that those who through ignorance have sinned before baptism be received into grace in one manner, and in another those who, after having been liberated from the servitude of sin and of the devil, and after having received the gift of the Holy Ghost, have not feared knowingly to violate the temple of God[47] and to grieve the Holy Spirit.[48] And it is in keeping with divine clemency that sins be not thus pardoned us without any satisfaction, lest seizing the occasion and considering sins as trivial and offering insult and affront to the Holy Spirit,[49] we should fall into graver ones, <treasuring up to ourselves wrath against the day of wrath.>[50] For without doubt, these satisfactions greatly restrain from sin, check as it were with a bit, and make penitents more cautious and vigilant in the future; they also remove remnants of sin, and by acts of the opposite virtues destroy habits acquired by evil living. Neither was there ever in the Church of God any way held more certain to ward off impending chastisement by the Lord than that men perform with true sorrow of mind these works of penance.[51] Add to this, that while we by making satisfaction suffer for our sins. we are made conformable to Christ Jesus who satisfied for our sins,[52] from whom is all our sufficiency,[53] having thence also a most certain pledge, that <if we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him.>[54] Neither is this satisfaction which we discharge for our sins so our own as not to be through Christ Jesus; for we who can do nothing of ourselves as of ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of Him who strengthens us.[55] Thus man has not wherein to glory, but all our glorying is in Christ,[56] in whom we live,[57] in whom we merit, in whom we make satisfaction, <bringing forth fruits worthy of penance,>[58] which have their efficacy from Him, by Him are offered to the Father, and through Him are accepted by the Father. The priests of the Lord must therefore, so far as reason and prudence suggest, impose salutary and suitable satisfactions, in keeping with the nature of the crimes and the ability of the penitents; otherwise, if they should connive at sins and deal too leniently with penitents, imposing certain very light works for very grave offenses, they might become partakers in the sins of others. But let them bear in mind that the satisfaction they impose be not only for the protection of a new life and a remedy against infirmity, but also for the atonement and punishment of past sins; for the early Fathers also believed and taught that the keys of the priests were bestowed not to loose only but also to bind.[59] It was not their understanding, moreover, that the sacrament of penance is a tribunal of wrath or of punishments, as no Catholic ever understood that through our satisfactions the efficacy of the merit and satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ is either obscured or in any way diminished;[60] but since the innovators wish to understand it so, they teach, in order to destroy the efficacy and use of satisfaction, that a new life is the best penance.


It [the council] teaches furthermore that the liberality of the divine munificence is so great that we are able through Jesus Christ to make satisfaction to God the Father not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken by ourselves to atone for sins, or by those 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 borne patiently by us.

The Doctrine Of The Sacrament Of Extreme Unction

It has seemed good to the holy council to add to the preceding doctrine on penance the following concerning the sacrament of extreme unction, which was considered by the Fathers as the completion not only of penance but also of the whole Christian life, which ought to be a continual penance. First therefore, with regard to its institution it declares and teaches that our most benevolent Redeemer, who wished to have His servants at all times provided with salutary remedies against all the weapons of all enemies,[61] as in the other sacraments He provided the greatest aids by means of which Christians may during life keep themselves free from every graver spiritual evil, so did He fortify the end of life by the sacrament of extreme unction as with the strongest defense. For though our adversary seeks and seizes occasions throughout our whole life to devour our souls in any manner,[62] yet there is no time when he strains more vehemently all the powers of his cunning to ruin us utterly, and if possible to make us even lose faith in the divine mercy, than when he perceives that the end of our life is near.


This sacred unction of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as truly and properly a sacrament of the New Law, alluded to indeed by Mark[63] but recommended and announced to the faithful by James the Apostle and brother of the Lord. <Is any man>, he says, <sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of 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.>[64] In which words, as the Church has learned from Apostolic tradition received from hand to hand, he teaches the matter, form, proper administration and effect of this salutary sacrament. For the Church has understood that the matter is the oil blessed by the bishop, because the anointing very aptly represents the grace of the Holy Ghost with which the soul of the sick person is invisibly anointed. The form, furthermore, are those words: “By this unction, etc.”


Moreover, 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.>[65] For the thing signified is the grace of the Holy Ghost whose anointing takes away the sins if there be any still to be expiated, and also the remains of sin and raises up and strengthens the soul of the sick person by exciting in him great confidence in the divine mercy, supported by which the sick one bears more lightly the miseries and pains of his illness and resists more easily the temptations of the devil who lies in wait for his heel;[66] and at times when expedient for the welfare of the soul restores bodily health.


And now, with regard to prescribing who ought to receive and administer this sacrament, this also was not obscurely expressed in the words cited above. For there it is also pointed out that the proper ministers of this sacrament are the priests of the Church; by which name in that place are to be understood not the elders by age or the highest in rank among the people, but either bishops or priests[67] rightly ordained by bishops with the imposition of the hands of the priesthood.>[68] It is also declared that this anointing is to be applied to the sick, but especially to those who are in such danger as to appear to be at the end of life, whence it is also called the sacrament of the dying. If the sick should after the reception of this sacrament recover, they may again be strengthened with the aid of this sacrament when they fall into another similar danger of death. Wherefore, they are under no condition to be listened to who against so manifest and clear a statement of the Apostle James[69] teach that this anointing is either a human contrivance or is a rite received from the Fathers, having neither a command from God nor a promise of grace; nor those who declare that this has already ceased, as though it were to be understood only as referring to the grace of healing in the primitive Church; nor those who maintain that the rite and usage which the holy Roman Church observes in the administration of this sacrament are opposed to the expression of the Apostle James,[70] and therefore must be changed into some other; nor finally those who assert that this last anointing may without sin be despised by the faithful; for all these things are most clearly at variance with the manifest words of so great an Apostle. Assuredly, in reference to those things that constitute the substance of this sacrament, the Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all other churches, does not observe anything in administering this unction that has not been prescribed by the blessed James. Nor indeed can there be contempt for so great a sacrament without a grievous sin and offense to the Holy Ghost.

These things regarding the sacraments of penance and extreme unction this holy ecumenical council professes and teaches and proposes to all the faithful of Christ to be believed and held. And it submits the following canons to be inviolately observed, and forever anathematizes those who maintain the contrary.

Canons Concerning The Most Holy Sacrament Of Penance Canon 1. If anyone says that in the Catholic Church penance is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord for reconciling the faithful of God as often as they fall into sin after baptism,[71] let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone, confounding the sacraments, says that baptism is itself the sacrament of penance,[72] as though these two sacraments were not distinct, and that penance therefore is not rightly called a second plank after shipwreck,[73] let him be anathema.

Canon 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 you shall retain, they are retained,>[74] are not to be understood of the power of forgiving and retaining sins in the sacrament of penance, as the Catholic Church has always understood them from the beginning, but distorts them, contrary to the institution of this sacrament, as applying to the authority of preaching the Gospel, let him be anathema.

Canon 4. If anyone denies that for the full and perfect remission of sins three acts are required on the part of the penitent, constituting as it were the matter of the sacrament of penance, namely, contrition, confession and satisfaction, which are called the three parts of penance;[75] or says that there are only two parts of penance, namely, the terrors of a smitten conscience convinced of sin and the faith received from the Gospel or from absolution, by which one believes that his sins are forgiven him through Christ, let him be anathema.

Canon 5. If anyone says that the contrition which is evoked by examination, recollection and hatred of sins,[76] whereby one recounts his years in the bitterness of his soul,[77] by reflecting on the grievousness, the multitude, the baseness of his sins, the loss of eternal happiness and the incurring of eternal damnation, with a purpose of amendment, is not a true and beneficial sorrow, 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.

Canon 6. If anyone denies that sacramental confession was instituted by divine law or is necessary to salvation;[78] or says that the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, which the Catholic Church has always observed from the beginning and still observes, is at variance with the institution and command of Christ and is a human contrivance, let him be anathema.

Canon 7. If anyone says that in the sacrament of penance it is not required by divine law for the remission of sins to confess each and all mortal sins which are recalled after a due and diligent examination,[79] also secret ones and those that are a violation of the two last commandments of the Decalogue,[80] as also the circumstances that change the nature of a sin, but that this confession is useful only to instruct and console the penitent and in olden times was observed only to impose a canonical satisfaction; or says that they who strive to confess all sins wish to leave nothing to the divine mercy to pardon; or finally, that it is not lawful to confess venial sins, let him be anathema.

Canon 8. If anyone says that the confession of all sins as it is observed in the Church is impossible and is a human tradition to be abolished by pious people;[81] or that each and all of the faithful of Christ of either sex are not bound thereto once a year in accordance with the constitution of the great Lateran Council[82] and that for this reason the faithful of Christ are to be persuaded not to confess during Lent, let him be anathema.

Canon 9. If anyone says that the sacramental absolution of the priest is not a judicial act but a mere service of pronouncing and declaring to him who confesses that the sins are forgiven, provided only he believes himself to be absolved, even though the priest absolves not in earnest but only in jest;[83] or says that the confession of the penitent is not necessary in order that the priest may be able to absolve him, let him be anathema.

Canon 10. If anyone says that priests who are in mortal sin have not the power of binding and loosing,[84] or that not only priests are the ministers of absolution but that to each and all of the faithful of Christ was it said: <Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed in heaven>;[85] and <whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained;>[86] by virtue of which words everyone can absolve from sins, from public sins by reproof only, provided the one reproved accept correction, and from secret sins by voluntary confession, let him be anathema.

Canon 11. If anyone says that bishops have not the right to reserve cases to themselves except such as pertain to external administration, and that therefore the reservation of cases does not hinder a priest from absolving from reserved cases,[87] let him be anathema.

Canon 12. If anyone says that God always pardons the whole penalty together with the guilt and that the satisfaction of penitents is nothing else than the faith by which they perceive that Christ has satisfied for them,[88] let him be anathema.

Canon 13. If anyone says that satisfaction for sins, as to their temporal punishment, is in no way made to God through the merits of Christ by the punishments inflicted by Him and patiently borne, or by those imposed by the priest, or even those voluntarily undertaken, as by fasts, prayers, almsgiving or other works of piety, and that therefore the best penance is merely a new life,[89] let him be anathema.

Canon 14. If anyone says that the satisfactions by which penitents atone for their sins through Christ are not a worship of God but traditions of men, which obscure the doctrine of grace and the true worship of God and the beneficence itself of the death of Christ,[90] let him be anathema.

Canon 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, when imposing penalties on those who confess, act contrary to the purpose of the keys and to the institution of Christ, and that it is a fiction that there remains often a temporal punishment to be discharged after the eternal punishment has by virtue of the keys been removed,[91] let him be anathema.

Canons Concerning The Sacrament Of Extreme Unction Canon l. If anyone says that extreme unction is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ our Lord and announced by the blessed Apostle James,[92] but is only a rite received from the Fathers or a human invention, let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone says that the anointing of the sick neither confers any grace nor remits sins nor comforts the sick, but that it has already ceased, as if it had been a healing grace only in the olden days,[93] let him be anathema.

Canon 3. If anyone says that the rite and usage of extreme unction which the holy Roman Church observes is at variance with the statement of the blessed Apostle James,[94] and is therefore to be changed and may without sin be despised by Christians, let him be anathema.

Canon 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 who have been ordained by a bishop, but the elders in each community, and that for this reason a priest only is not the proper minister of extreme unction,[95] let him be anathema.

Decree Concerning Reform


It is the office of the bishops to admonish their subjects of their duty, especially those appointed to the <cura animarum>

Since it is properly the office of bishops to reprove the transgressions of all their subjects, this especially must claim their attention, that clerics, particularly those appointed to the <cura animarum,> be not wicked, nor lead a disorderly life with their connivance.[96] For if they permit them to be given to evil and corrupt morals, how shall they reprove the lay people for their transgressions when these can by one word repulse them for permitting clerics to be worse than they?[97] And with what freedom shall priests be able to correct laics when they must answer silently to themselves that they have committed the same things that they censure?[98] Wherefore, bishops shall admonish their clergy, of whatever rank they may be, that in conduct, speech and knowledge they be a guide to the people of God committed to them;[99] being mindful of what is written: Be holy, for I also am holy.[100] And in accordance with the word of the Apostle, let them not give offense to any man, that their ministry may not be blamed; but in all things let them exhibit themselves as the ministers of God,[101] lest the saying of the prophet be fulfilled in them: <The priests of God defile the sanctuaries and despise the law.>[102] But that the bishops may be able to execute this more freely, and may not be hindered therein by any pretext whatsoever, the same holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, the same legate and nuncios of the Apostolic See presiding therein, has thought it proper that the following canons be established and decreed.


Since it is more honorable and safe for a subject to serve in an inferior ministry and render due obedience to those placed over him than to the scandal of the superiors seek the dignity of a higher rank, to him to whom the advance to sacred orders has, for any reason whatsoever, even on account of secret crime, or in whatsoever manner, even extra-judicially, been denied by his own prelate, or who has been suspended from his orders or ecclesiastical rank or dignities, no permission granted against the will of that prelate to bring about his promotion or restoration to former orders, rank, dignities or honors, shall be of any avail.


Since some bishops of churches located in <partibus infidelium>, having neither clergy nor Christian people, being well-nigh wanderers and without a fixed residence, seeking not the things of Jesus Christ, but other sheep without the knowledge of their pastor,[103] and finding themselves forbidden by this holy council to exercise episcopal functions in the diocese of another without the expressed permission of the local ordinary,[104] and then only in regard to persons who are subject to that ordinary, do in their boldness, by evasion and in contempt of the law, choose as it were an episcopal see in a place which belongs to no diocese, and presume to mark with the clerical character and even promote to the sacred order of the priesthood any who come to them, even though they have no commendatory letters from their bishops or prelates, whence it happens very often that persons are ordained who are but little qualified, who are untrained and ignorant, and have been rejected by their own bishops as incompetent and unworthy, neither able to perform the divine offices nor to administer rightly the sacraments of the Church; none of the bishops, therefore, who are called titular, even though they reside or sojourn in a place within no diocese, even if it be exempt, or in a monastery of whatsoever order, may, by virtue of any privilege granted them for a time, promote those who come to them, or promote or ordain to any sacred or minor orders, or even to the first tonsure, the subject of another bishop, even under the pretext that he is his domestic and companion at table, without the expressed consent of or dimissory letters from that person’s own bishop.[105] Those acting contrary to this shall be <ipso jure> suspended for one year from the exercise of pontifical functions, and the one so promoted shall likewise be suspended from the exercise of the orders as long as his own prelate shall see fit.


A bishop may suspend for as long a time as he may see fit from the exercise of the orders received, and may prohibit from ministering or from exercising the functions of any order, any of his clerics, especially those who are in sacred orders, who have been promoted by any authority whatsoever without his previous examination and commendatory letters, even though they shall have been approved as competent by him who ordained them, but whom he himself shall find unfit and incapable to celebrate the divine offices or to administer the sacraments of the Church.[106]


All prelates of churches who ought to apply themselves diligently to correct the excesses of their subjects,[107] and against whom no cleric is by the statutes of this council under pretext of any privilege whatsoever considered secure that he may not be visited, punished and corrected in accordance with the canons, shall, if they reside in their own churches, have the power, delegated for this purpose by the Apostolic See, to correct and punish, even outside the time of visitation, all secular clerics in whatever manner exempt, who would otherwise be subject to their jurisdiction, for their excesses, crimes and delinquencies as often as and whenever there shall be need;[108] no exemptions, declarations, customs, sentences, oaths, agreements, which bind only their authors, shall be of any avail to said clerics and their relations, chaplains, domestics, agents, or to any others whatsoever in view and in consideration of said exempt clerics.


Moreover, since some who, under the pretext that divers wrongs and annoyances are inflicted on them in their goods, possessions and rights, obtain certain judges to be appointed by means of conservatory letters to protect and defend them against such annoyances and wrongs and to maintain and keep them in the real or quasi possession of their goods, property and rights without suffering them to be molested therein, in most cases wrest from such letters a meaning that is contrary to the intention of the donor, therefore, conservatory letters, whatever may be their clauses and decrees, whatever judges may be appointed, or under whatever other sort of pretext or color they may have been granted, shall avail absolutely no one, of whatever dignity and condition, even though a chapter, from being in criminal and mixed causes accused and summoned, examined and proceeded against before his own bishop or other ordinary superior, or from being freely summoned before the ordinary judge in those matters, even if any rights should come to him from a concession made to him. In civil causes also, if he be the plaintiff, it shall under no condition be lawful for him to bring anyone for judgment before his own conservatory judges. And if in those cases in which he shall be defendant, it should happen that the conservator chosen by him should be declared by the plaintiff to be suspected by him, or if any dispute shall have arisen between the judges themselves, the conservator and the ordinary, with regard to the competency of jurisdiction, the cause shall not be proceeded with until a decision shall have been made relative to said suspicion or competency of jurisdiction by arbiters legally chosen. Nor shall such conservatory letters be of any avail to the said party’s domestics, who are in the habit of shielding themselves thereby, except to two only and then provided they live at his own cost. No one, moreover, shall enjoy the benefit of such letters more than five years. It shall also not be lawful for conservatory judges to have any fixed tribunal. With regard to causes that relate to wages and to destitute persons, the decree of this holy council shall remain in its full force.[109] General universities, however, colleges of doctors or scholars, places belonging to regulars, also hospitals in which hospitality is actually exercised, and persons belonging to such universities, colleges, places and hospitals, are not to be considered included in the present decree, but are and are to be understood as wholly exempt.


And since, though the habit does not make the monk,[110] it is necessary nevertheless that clerics always wear a dress conformable to their order, that by the propriety of their outward apparel they may show forth the inward uprightness of their morals, yet to such a degree have the contempt of religion and the boldness of some grown in these days, that esteeming but little their own dignity and the clerical honor, they even wear in public the dress of laymen, setting their feet in different paths, one of things divine, the other of the flesh. Wherefore, all ecclesiastical persons, howsoever exempt, who are either in sacred orders or in possession of dignities with or without jurisdiction, offices or whatsoever ecclesiastical benefices, if, after having been admonished by their bishops, even by a public edict, they do not wear a becoming clerical dress conformable to their order and dignity and in conformity with the ordinance and mandate of their bishop, may and ought to be compelled thereto by suspension from their orders, office, benefice and from the fruits, revenues and proceeds of those benefices; and also, if, after having been once rebuked, they offend again in the matter, even by deprivation of those offices and benefices; the constitution of Clement V published in the Council of Vienne, beginning “Quondam,” being hereby renewed and amplified.[111]


Since also he who has killed his neighbor on set purpose and by lying in wait for him, is to be taken away from the altar,[112] he who has voluntarily committed a homicide, even though that crime has neither been proved by ordinary judicial process nor is otherwise public, but is secret, can never be promoted to sacred orders; nor shall it be lawful to confer on him any ecclesiastical benefices, even though they have not annexed the <cura animarum>; but he shall be forever excluded from every ecclesiastical order, benefice and office. But if it be declared that the homicide was not committed intentionally but accidentally, or when repelling force with force that one might defend himself from death (in which case indeed a dispensation for the ministry of sacred orders and of the altar and for all benefices and dignities is in some manner due by right), the matter shall be referred to the local ordinary, or if need be to the metropolitan or to the nearest bishop, who may dispense only after having taken cognizance of the case and after the entreaties and allegations have been proved, and not otherwise.


Furthermore, since there are persons, some of whom are true pastors and have their own sheep, who seek to rule over the sheep of others also,[113] and at times give their attention to the subjects of others to such an extent as to neglect the care of their own; no one, even though he enjoy the episcopal dignity, who may have the privilege of punishing the subjects of another, shall under any circumstances proceed against clerics not subject to him, especially such as are in sacred orders, even if guilty of crimes ever so atrocious, except with the intervention of the bishop of those clerics, if that bishop resides in his own church, or of the person that may be deputed by that bishop; otherwise the proceedings and all their consequences shall be entirely without effect.


And since it is by a very good law that dioceses and parishes have been made distinct,[114] and to each flock has been assigned its proper pastor and to inferior churches their rectors, each to take care of his own sheep, so that ecclesiastical order may not be disturbed or one and the same church belong in some way to two dioceses, not without grave disadvantage to those subject thereto; the benefices of one diocese, even if they be parochial churches, perpetual vicariates, simple benefices, prestimonies or prestimonial portions, shall not be united <in perpetuum> to a benefice, monastery, college or even to a pious place of another diocese, not even for the purpose of augmenting divine worship or the number of beneficiaries, or for any other reason whatsoever; hereby explaining the decree of this holy council on the subject of unions of this kind.[115]


Benefices of regulars that have been accustomed to be granted in title to professed regulars, shall, when they happen to become vacant by the death of the titular incumbent, or by his resignation or otherwise, be conferred on religious of the same order only[116] or on persons who shall be absolutely bound to take the habit and make profession, and on no others, that they may <not wear a garment that is woven of woolen and linen together.[117]


Since regulars, transferred from one order to another, usually obtain permission easily from their superior to remain out of the monastery, whereby occasion is given to wandering about and apostatizing, no prelate or superior of any order shall by virtue of any authority whatsoever, admit anyone to the habit and to profession, unless he remain in the order to which he was transferred and perpetually in the cloister under obedience to his superior[118] and one so transferred, even though he be a canon regular, shall be wholly disqualified to hold secular benefices, even with the <cura> annexed.


Moreover, no one, of whatever ecclesiastical or secular dignity, may or ought to procure or have a right of patronage for any reason whatever, except that he has founded and erected <de novo> a church, benefice or chapel; or has adequately endowed out of his own patrimonial resources one already erected but insufficiently endowed.[119] But in case of such foundation or endowment, appointments thereto shall be reserved to the bishop and not to some other inferior person.


Furthermore, it shall not be lawful for a patron, under pretext of any privilege, to present anyone in any way to the benefices that are under his right of patronage except to the ordinary bishop of the locality, to whom the provision for or appointment to that benefice would by right belong if the privilege ceased; 120 otherwise the presentation and the appointment perchance following shall be null and shall be understood as such.


The holy council declares, moreover, that in the next session, which it has already decreed to be held on the twenty-fifth day of January of the following year, 1552, it will, besides treating of the sacrifice of the mass, also apply itself to and treat of the sacrament of order and continue the subject of reform.


1 Cf. Sess. VI, chap. 14.

2 Cf. <infra>, chap. 5, Penance.

3 Eph. 2:4.

4 Ps. 102:14.

5 Sess. and chap. cited.

6 Ezech. 18:30.

7 Luke 13:5.

8 Acts 2:38.

9 John 20:22f.; <infra>, can. 3, Penance.

10 Eusebius, <Hist. eccl.>, VI, c. 43.

11 Cf. <infra,> Canon 2. and Sess. VI, chap. 14.

12 See 1 Cor. 5:12.

13 Ibid., 12:13.

14 Gal. 3:27.

15 Cf. <infra>, chap. 4; Sess. VI, chap. 14, and< infra>, can. 4.

16 Cf. Sess. VI, chaps. 6, 14.

17 <Infra>, can. 5.

18 Ezech. 18:31.

19 Ps. 50:6.

20 Ps. 6:7.

21 Is. 38:15.

22 Jonas 3:5; Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32.

23 Luke 5:14; 17:14; I John 1:9. Cf. <infra>, can. 6.

24 Matt. 16:19, John 20:23.

25 Cf. c. 51, D.I de poenit.

26 Cf. <infra>, can. 7.

27 Deut. 5:21.

28 Cf. Sess. VI, can. 23; c. 20, D. III de poenit.

29 Eph. 2:3.

30 Ps, 18:13.

31 Cf. c. 12, X, De poenit., V, 38.

32 <Infra,> can. 10.

33 Matt. 16:19; 18:18.

34 John 20:23.

35 Cf. Sess. VII, Sacraments, can. 10.

36 C. 8, D. XIX; c. 89, C I, q. I.

37 <Infra>, can. 9.

38 Cf. c. 2 VI, De poenit., V, 10.

39 Cf. c. 52, C.XVI, q. I; c. 29, C.XVII, q. 4 et al.

40 Cf. cc. l, 3, 19, 22, 24, 32, X, De sent. excomm., V, 39; cc. II, 18, h. t. in VI, V, 11; c. l, h. t. in Extrav. comm., V, 10 et al.

41 Rom. 13:1.

42 Cf. <infra>, sess. XXIV, chap. 6 de ref.

43 Cf. c. 29, C.XVII, q. 4; c. 5, VI, De poenis, V, 9; c. 3, h. t. in Clem., V, 8; c. 3, Extrav. comm., De privil, V, 7.

44 See II Tim. 3:5.

45 Cf. sess. VI, chap. 14, can. 30 and <infra>, can. 12.

46 Gen. 3:16 ff.; Num. 12:14 f.; 10:11 f.; II Kings 12:13 f., etc.

47 See l Cor. 3:17.

48 Eph. 4:30.

49 Heb. 10:29.

50 Rom. 2:5; James 5:3

51 Matt. 3:2, 8; 4:17; 11:21.

52 Rom. 5:10.

53 See II Cor. 3:5.

54 Rom. 8:17.

55 See II Cor. 3:5; Phil. 4:13.

56 See I Cor. 1:31; II Cor. 10:17; Gal. 6:14.

57 Acts 17:28.

58 Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8.

59 Matt. 16:19; John 20:23; <infra>, can. 15.

60 Cf. <infra>. can. 14.

61 Eph. 6:10 ff.

62 See I Pet. 5:8.

63 Mark 6:13.

64 James 5:14 f.

65 Ibid., 5:15.

66 Gen. 3:15.

67 C. 3, D.XCV and <infra>, Extr. Unct., can. 4.

68 See I Tim. 4:14.

69 James 5:14 f.

70 <Infra>, Extr. Unct., can. 3.

71 Cf. <supra>, chap. I.

72 Ibid.

73 C. 72, D.I de poenit.

74 Matt. 16:19; John 20:23 f.; cf. Sess. VI, chap. 14 and <supra>, chap. 1.

75 <Supra>, chap. 3.

76 Ibid., chap. 4 77 38:15.

78 <Supra>, chap. 5.

79 <Supra>, chap. 5.

80 Deut. 5:21.

81 <Supra>, chap. 5.

82 Ibid., chap. 5 at the end.

83 Ibid., chap. 6.

84 Ibid., chaps. 5-6.

85 Matt. 16:19; 18:18.

86 John 20:23.

87 <Supra>, chap. 7.

88 Ibid., chap. 8.

89 Ibid., chaps. 8-9.

90 Ibid., chap. 8.

91 Ibid., chaps 1, 8.

92 James 5:14 f.

93 Cf. supra, Extr. Unct., chap. 2.

94 James 5:14 f.

95 Ibid.; supra, Extr. Unct., chap. 3.

96 C 13, X, De off. jud. ord., I, 31; supra, Sess. VI, chap. 3 de ref.

97 See I Cor. 9:27.

98 C. 6, D.XXV.

99 Cf. Sess. XXII, chap. I de ref.

100 Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7; 1 Pet. 1:16.

101 See II Cor. 6:3 f.

102 Ezech. 22:26; Soph. 3:4.

103 Cf. infra, chap. 8 de ref.

104 Cf. Sess. VI, chap. 5 de ref.

105 Ibid. and Sess. XXIII, chaps. 3, 8, 10 de ref.

106 Cf. Sess. XXIII, chap. 8 de ref.

107 Sess. VI, chap. 3 de ref.; C. 13, X, De off. jud. ord., I, 31.

108 Sess. cit., chap. 4 de ref.

109 Cf. Sess. VII, chap. 14 de ref.

110 C. 13, X, De regular., III, 31. 111 C. 2, in Clem., De vit. et hon. cler., III, I.

112 Ex. 21:14; c. I, X, De homicid., V, 12.

113 Cf. <supra,> chap. 2 de ref. and Sess. VI, chap. 5 de ref.

114 Cf. c. 9, X, De his, quae fiunt a prael., III, 10 and Sess. XXIV, chap. 13 de ref.

115 Cf. Sess. VII, chaps. 6 and 7 de ref.; Sess. XXIV, chaps. 13 and 15 de ref.

116 Cf. Sess. XXV, chap. 21 de regular.; c. 5, VI, De praeb., III 4; C. 27, X, De elect., I 6.

117 Deut. 22:11.

118 Cf. Sess. XXV, chap. 4 de regular.

119 Cf. Sess. cit., chap. 9 de ref.

120 Cf. Sess. and chap. cited, and cc. 8, 21, X, De jur. patr., III, 38.

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