Session 18 – The Council Of Trent
Session XVIII – The second under the Supreme Pontiff, Pius IV, celebrated on the twenty-sixth day of February, 1562
Decree Concerning the Choice of Books and the Invitation of All to the Council Under Public Protection Safe-Conduct Granted to the German Nation in a General Congregation on the Fourth Day of March, 1562 Notes
The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, not confiding in human strength but relying on the power and support of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has promised to give to His Church a mouth and wisdom, has in view above all to restore to its purity and splendor the doctrine of the Catholic faith, which in many places has become defiled and obscured by the opinions of many differing among themselves, and to bring back to a better mode of life morals which have deviated from ancient usage, and to <turn the heart of the fathers unto the children,> and the heart of the children unto the fathers. Since therefore it has first of all observed that the number of suspected and pernicious books in which an impure doctrine is contained and disseminated far and wide has in these days exceedingly increased, for which reason indeed many censures have with pious zeal been issued in various provinces and especially in the fair city of Rome, and that as yet no salutary remedy has been of avail against so great and pernicious a disease; it has thought it proper that the Fathers chosen for this inquiry should consider carefully what ought to be done with regard to censures and books and at an opportune time report thereon to the council, so that it may more easily separate the various and strange doctrines as cockle from the wheat of Christian truth, and may more conveniently deliberate and determine what seems better adapted to remove anxiety from the minds of many and to put an end to causes of complaints. It wishes, moreover, that all this be brought to the knowledge of all persons, as it also does by the present decree bring it, so that if anyone should consider himself in any manner concerned either in the matter of books and censures or in other things which it has declared beforehand are to be treated in this general council, he may not doubt that he will be courteously listened to by the holy council.
And since the same holy council heartily desires and earnestly beseeches God for the things that are for the peace of the Church, so that all acknowledging our common mother on earth, who cannot forget those whom she has begotten, we <may with one mind and one mouth glorify God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,> it invites and exhorts, by the bowels of the mercy of our same God and Lord, to concord and reconciliation all who do not hold communion with us and to come to this holy council, to embrace <charity, which is the bond of perfection>, and to show forth the peace of Christ rejoicing in their hearts, wherein they are called in one body. Wherefore, <hearing this voice,> not of man but of the Holy Ghost, let them not <harden their hearts,> but, walking not after their own sense, nor pleasing themselves, let them be moved and converted by this so pious and salutary admonition of their own mother. For as the holy council invites them with all the kindness of charity, so will it receive them.
Moreover, the same holy council has decreed that the public faith can be granted in a general congregation, and that it shall have the same force, authority and obligation as if it had been given and decreed In public session.
Summons For The Next Session
The same holy Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, ordains and decrees that the next following session be held and celebrated on the Thursday after the most sacred feast of the Ascension of the Lord, which will be on the fourteenth day of the month of May.
The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, certifies to all men that by the tenor of these presents it grants and fully concedes the public faith and the fullest and truest security, which they call a safe-conduct, to each and all priests, electors, princes, dukes, marquises, counts, barons, soldiers, the common people, and to all other persons, of whatever state, condition or character they may be, the German province and nation, to the cities and other places thereof, and to all other ecclesiastical and secular persons, especially those of the Confession of Augsburg, who shall come or shall be sent with them to this general Council of Trent, and to those who are going to come or have already come, by whatever name they are or may be designated, to come freely to this city of Trent, to remain, abide and sojourn here, and to propose, speak and consider, examine and discuss any matters whatever with the council, to present freely whatever they may think suitable, to set forth any articles whatever either in writing or orally, and to explain, establish and prove them by the Sacred Scriptures and by the words, decisions, and arguments of the blessed Fathers, and also to reply, if need be, to the objections of the general council, and to dispute and confer charitably and respectfully and without hindrance with those who have been selected by the council, putting aside absolutely reproachful, vexatious and offensive language; and particularly, it certifies that the controverted matters shall be treated in this Council of Trent in accordance with Sacred Scriptures and the traditions of the Apostles, the approved councils, the consensus of the Catholic Church and the authority of the holy Fathers; with this further provision, it grants and entirely concedes that they shall under no condition be punished by reason of religion or of offenses committed or that may be committed in regard thereto; provided also that the divine offices shall not by reason of their presence, either upon the road or in any place of their journey, their stay or their return, or in the city of Trent itself, be in any way interrupted; and that on the conclusion of these matters or before their conclusion, whensoever it shall please them, if they should wish by the command and permission of their superiors to return to their homes, or if any one of them should so wish, they may at their pleasure return freely and securely, without restraint, formality or delay, without injury to their property and to the honor and persons of their attendants and vice versa; making known, however, their intention of withdrawing to those to be deputed by the council, so that at a convenient time, without deceit or fraud, provision may be made for their security. The holy council wishes also that all clauses whatsoever, which may be necessary and suitable for a complete, effective and sufficient security for coming, sojourning and returning, be included and contained, and to be considered as included, in this public faith and safe-conduct. For their greater security and for the sake of peace and reconciliation, it declares also that if, which God forbid, any one or several of them should either on the way to Trent or while sojourning in or returning therefrom, perpetrate or commit an atrocious act, by which the benefit of this public faith and assurance granted to them might be annulled and cassated, it wishes and concedes that those discovered in any such crime shall be forthwith punished by their own countrymen and not by others, with a condign chastisement and proper reparation, which the council on its part may justly approve and commend, the form, conditions and terms of the safe-conduct remaining entirely intact thereby. In like manner it wishes also that if, which God forbid, any one or several of this council should, either on the road or while sojourning or returning, perpetrate or commit an atrocious act by which the benefit of this public faith or assurance may be violated or in any manner annulled, those discovered in any such crime shall be forthwith punished by the council itself and not by others, with a condign chastisement and proper reparation, which the Germans of the Augsburg Confession here present may on their part approve and commend, the present form, conditions and terms of the safe-conduct remaining entirely intact thereby. The council wishes furthermore, that each and all of their ambassadors shall be allowed to go out of the city of Trent to take the fresh air as often as it shall be convenient or necessary and to return here; also freely to send or dispatch their messenger or messengers to any place whatsoever to attend to their necessary affairs and to receive those sent or dispatched or the one sent or dispatched as often as they may deem fit; so however that several or one of those appointed by the council may accompany them or him in order to provide for their safety. This safe-conduct and security shall be good and extend from and during the time that they shall have been taken under the protection of this council and its agents to their arrival at Trent, and during the entire time of their sojourn here; and further, after a sufficient hearing has been had, a period of twenty days having expired, when they themselves should desire, or the council on the conclusion of such hearing should give them notice to return, it will, all deceit and fraud being wholly excluded, reconduct them with the help of God from Trent to that place of safety which each may choose for himself. All of which it promises and pledges in good faith to be inviolately observed toward each and all of the faithful of Christ, toward all ecclesiastical and secular princes and all ecclesiastical and secular persons, of whatsoever state and condition they may be or by whatsoever name they may be known. Moreover, it promises in sincere and good faith, to the exclusion of fraud and deceit, that the council will neither openly nor secretly seek any occasion, nor make use of, nor permit anyone else to make use of, any authority, power, right or statute, privilege of laws or canons, or of any councils in whatever form of words expressed, especially those of Constance and Siena, in any way prejudicial to this public faith and the fullest security, and of the public and free hearing granted by this council to the above-named; these it abrogates in this respect and for this occasion. And if the holy council or any member thereof, or any of its adherents, of whatever condition, state or pre-eminence, shall violate, which may the Almighty prevent, in any point or clause whatever, the form and terms of the security and safe-conduct as set forth above, and a satisfactory reparation that in their judgment may be justly approved and commended shall not have forthwith followed, they may consider the council to have incurred all those penalties which by human and divine law or by custom the violators of such safe-conducts can incur, without any excuse or contrary allegation in this respect.
THE EXTENSION OF THE ABOVE TO OTHER NATIONS
The same holy council, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates <de latere> of the Apostolic See presiding, grants the public faith or a safe-conduct under the same form and terms in which it is granted to the Germans, to each and all others who do not hold communion with us in matters of faith, of whatever kingdoms, nations, provinces, cities and places they may be, in which the contrary to that which the holy Roman Church holds is publicly and with impunity preached, taught or believed.
1 Luke 21:15.
2 Ibid., 1:17.
3 Matt. 13:30.
4 Ps. 121:6.
5 Is. 49:15.
6 Rom. 15:6.
7 Col 3:14f.
8 Ps. 94:8; Heb. 3:8.
9 Eph. 4:17.
10 Rom. 15:1ff.