Council of Trent

Beset by laxity within the Church and the threat of Protestantism without, Pope Paul III convened an ecumenical council in the prince-isophric of Trento in northern Italy. Beginning in 1545, the council of Trent would meet in twenty-five sessions over the next eighteen years, through 1563. Interrupted by war, plague, and dissension among the participants, the Council of Trent eventually produced a wide-ranging program of revitilization and reform for the Church. The Council defined Church teachings in the areas of Scripture and Tradition, Original Sin, Justification, Sacraments, the Eucharist in Holy Mass and the veneration of saints and produced numerous reform decrees, including a new rite of mass, henceforth known as the Tridentine Mass.

One of the most significant actions of the Council of Trent was the condemnation of Protestantism as heresy.

The decrees of the council were acknowledged in Italy, Portugal, Poland and by the Catholic princes of Germany at the Diet of Augsburg in 1566. Philip II of Spain accepted them for Spain, the Netherlands and Sicily insofar as they did not infringe the royal prerogative. In France they were officially recognized by the king only in their doctrinal parts; the disciplinary sections received official recognition at provincial synods and were enforced by the bishops. No attempt was made to introduce it into England. Pius IV sent the decrees to Mary, Queen of Scots, requesting her to publish them in Scotland, but she dared not do it in the face of John Knox and the Reformation.


Council of Trent

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