The sacred and holy, oecumenical and general Synod of Trent, -lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same Legate and Nuncios of the holy Apostolic See presiding therein, --although, in the decree concerning Justification, there has been, through a certain kind of necessity, on account of the affinity of the subjects, much discourse introduced touching the sacrament of Penance; nevertheless, so great, in these our days, is the multitude of various errors relative to this sacrament, that it will be of no small public utility to have given thereof a more exact and full definition, wherein, all errors having been, under the protection of the Holy Ghost, pointed out and extirpated, Catholic truth may be made clear and resplendent; which (Catholic truth) this holy Synod now sets before all Christians to be perpetually retained.
If such, in all the regenerate, were their gratitude towards God, as that they constantly preserved the justice received in baptism by His bounty and grace; there would not have been need for another sacrament, besides that of baptism itself, to be instituted for the remission of sins But because God, rich in mercy, knows our frame, He hath bestowed a remedy of life even on [Page 93] those who may, after baptism, have delivered themselves up to the servitude of sin and the power of the devil, --the sacrament to wit of Penance, by which the benefit of the death of Christ is applied to those who have fallen after baptism. Penitence was in deed at all times neccessary, in order to attain to grace and justice, for all men who had defiled themselves by any mortal sin, even for those who begged to be washed by the sacrament of Baptism ; that so, their perverseness renounced and amended, they might, with a hatred of sin and a godly sorrow of mind, detest so great an offence of God. Wherefore the prophet says; Be converted and do penance for all your iniquities, and iniquity shall not be your ruin. The Lord also said; Except you do penance, you shall also likewise perish; and Peter, the prince of the apostoles, reconmending penitence to sinners who were about to be initiated by baptism, said; Do penance, and be baptized every one you. Nevertheless, neither before the coming of Christ was penitance a sacrament, nor is it such, since His coming, to any previously to baptism. But the Lord then principally instituted the sacrament of penance, when, being raised from the dead, He breathed upon His disciples, saying Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. By which action so signal, and words so clear, the consent of all the Fathers has ever understood, that the power of forgiving and retaining sins was communicated to the apostles and their lawful successors, for the reconciling of the faithful who have fallen after baptism. And the Catholic Church with great reason repudiated and condemned as heretics, the Novatians, who of old obstinately denied that power of forgiving. Wherefore, this holy Synod, approving of and re ceiving as most true this meaning of those words of our Lord, condemns the fanciful interpretations of those who, in opposition to the institution of this sacrament, falsely wrest those words to the power of preaching the word of God, and of an nouncing the Gospel of Christ.
For the rest, this sacrament is clearly seen to be different from baptism in many respects: for besides that it is very widely different indeed in matter and form, which constitute the essence of a sacrament, it is beyond doubt certain that the minister of baptism need not be a judge, seeing that the Church exercises judgment on no one who has not entered therein through the gate of baptism. For, what have I, saith the apostle, to do to judge them that are without? It is otherwise with those who are of the household of the faith, whom Christ our Lord has once, by the laver of baptism, made the members of His own body; for such, if they should afterwards have defiled themselves by any crime, He would no longer have them cleansed by a repetition of baptism--that being nowise lawful in the Catholic Church-but be placed as criminals before this tribunal; that, by the sentence of the priests, they might be freed, not once, but as often as, being penitent, they should, from their sins committed, flee thereunto. Furthermore, one is the fruit of baptism, and another that of penance. For, by baptism putting on Christ, we are made therein entirely a new creature, obtaining a full and entire remission of all sins: unto which newness and entireness, however, we are no ways able to arrive by the sacrament of Penance, without many tears and great labours on our parts, the divine justice demanding this; so that penance has justly been called by holy Fathers a laborious kind of baptism. And this sacrament of Penance is, for those who have fallen after baptism, necessary unto salvation; as baptism itself is for those who have not as yet been regenerated.
The holy synod doth furthermore teach, that the form of the sacrament of penance, wherein its force principally consists, is placed in those words of the minister, I absolve thee, &c: to which words indeed certain prayers are, according to the custom of holy Church, laudably joined, which nevertheless by no means regard the essence of that form, neither are they neces sary for the administration of the sacrament itself. But the acts of the penitent himself, to wit, contrition, confession and satisfaction, are as it were 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 perfect remission of sins, are for this reason called the parts of penance. But the thing signified indeed and the effect of this sacrament, as far as regards its force and efficacy, is 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 exceed ing consolation of spirit. The holy Synod, whilst delivering these things touching the parts and the effect of this sacrament, condemns at the same time the opinions of those who contend, that, the terrors which agitate the conscience, and faith, are the parts of penance.
Contrition, which holds the first place amongst the aforesaid acts of the penitent, is a sorrow of mind, and a detestation for sin committed, with the purpose of not sinning for the future. [Page 96] This movement of contrition was at all times necessary for obtaining the pardon of sins; and, in one who has fallen after baptism, it then at length prepares for the remissions of sins, when it is united with confidence in the divine mercy, and with the desire of performing the other things which are required for rightly receiving this sacrament. Wherefore the holy Synod declares, that this contrition contains not only a cessation from sin, and the purpose and the beginning of a new life, but also a hatred of the old, agreeably to that saying; Cast away from you all your iniquities, wherein you have transgressed, and make to yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. And assuredly he who has considered those cries of the saints; To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee, I have laboured in my groaning, every night I will wash my bed, I will recount to thee all my years, in the bitterness of my soul, and others of this kind, will easily understand that they flowed from a certain vehement hatred of their past life, and from an exceeding detestation of sins. The Synod teaches moreover, that, although it sometimes happen that this contrition is perfect through charity, and reconciles man with God before this sacrament be actually received, the said reconciliation, nevertheless, is not to be ascribed to that contrition, independently of the desire of the sacrament which is included therein. And as to that imperfect contrition, which is called attrition, because that it is commonly conceived either from the consideration of the turpitude of sin, or from the fear of hell and of punishment, It declares that if, with the hope of pardon, it exclude the wish to sin, it not only does not make a man a hypocrite, and a greater sinner, but that it is even a gift of God, and an impulse of the Holy Ghost, --who does not indeed as yet dwell in the penitent, but only moves him, --whereby the penitent being assisted prepares a way for himself unto justice. And although this (attrition) cannot of itself, without the sacrament of penance, conduct the sinner to justification, yet does it dispose him to obtain the grace of God in the sacrament of [Page 97] Penance. For, smitten profitably with this fear, the Ninivites, at the preaching of Jonas, did fearful penance and obtained mercy from the Lord. Wherefore falsely do some calumniate Catholic writers, as if they had maintained that the sacrament of Penance confers grace without any good motion on the part of those who receive it: a thing which the Church of God never taught, or thought: and falsely also do they assert that contrition is extorted and forced, not free and voluntary.
From the institution of the sacrament of Penance as already explained, the universal Church has always understood, that the entire confession of sins was also instituted by the Lord, and is of divine right necessary for all who have fallen after baptism; because that our Lord Jesus Christ, when about to ascend from earth to heaven, left priests His own vicars, as presidents and judges, unto whom all the mortal crimes, into which the faithful of Christ may have fallen, should be carried, in order that, in accordance with the power of the keys, they may pronounce the sentence of forgiveness or retention of sins. For it is manifest, that priests could not have exercised this judgment without knowledge of the cause; neither indeed could they have observed equity in enjoining punishments, if the said faithful should have declared their sins in general only, and not rather specifically, and one by one. Whence it is gathered that all the mortal sins, of which, after a diligent examination of themselves, they are conscious, must needs be by penitents enumerated in confession, even though those sins be most [Page 98] hidden, and committed only against the two last precepts of the decalogue,--sins which sometimes wound the soul more grievously, and are more dangerous, than those which are committed outwardly. For venial sins, whereby we are not excluded from the grace of God, and into which we fall more frequently, although they be rightly and profitably, and without any presumption declared in confession, as the custom of pious persons demonstrates, yet may they be omitted without guilt, and be expiated by many other remedies. But, whereas all mortal sins, even those of thought, render men children of wrath, and enemies of God, it is necessary to seek also for the pardon of them all from God, with an open and modest confession. Wherefore, while the faithful of Christ are careful to confess all the sins which occur to their memory, they without doubt lay them all bare before the mercy of God to be pardoned: whereas they who act otherwise, and knowingly keep back certain sins, such set nothing before the divine bounty to be forgiven through the priest: for if the sick be ashamed to show his wound to the physician, his medical art cures not that which it knows not of. We gather furthermore, that those circumstances which change the species of the sin are also to be explained in confession, because that, without them, the sins themselves are neither entirely set forth by the penitents, nor are they known clearly to the judges; and it cannot be that they can estimate rightly the grievousness of the crimes, and impose on the penitents, the punishment which ought to be inflicted, on account of them. Whence it is unreasonable to teach, that these circumstances have been invented by idle men; or, that one circumstance only is to be confessed, to wit, that one has sinned against a brother. But it is also impious to assert, that confession, enjoined to be made in this manner, is impossible, or to call it a slaughter-house of consciences: for it is certain, that in the Church nothing else is required of penitents, but that, after each has examined himself diligently, and searched all the folds and recesses of his conscience, he confess those sins by which he shall remember that he has mortally offended [Page 99] his Lord and God: whilst the other sins, which do not occur to him after diligent thought, are understood to be included as a whole in that same confession; for which sins we confidently say with the prophet; From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord. Now, the very difficulty of a confession like this, and the shame of making known one's sins, might indeed seem a grievous thing, were it not alleviated by the so many and so great advantages and consolations, which are most assuredly bestowed by absolution upon all who worthily approach to this sacrament. For the rest, as to the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, although Christ has not forbidden that a person may,--in punishment of his sins, and for his own humi liation, as well for an example to others as for the edification of the Church that has been scandalized,--confess his sins publicly, nevertheless this is not commanded by a divine precept; neither would it very prudent to enjoin by any human law, that sins, especially such as are secret, should be made known by a public confession. Wherefore, whereas the secret sacramental confession, which was in use from the beginning in holy Church, and is still also in use, has always been commended by the most holy and the most ancient Fathers with a great and unanimous consent, the vain calumny of those is manifestly refuted, who are not ashamed to teach, that confession is alien from the divine command, and is a human invention, and that it took its rise from the Fathers assembled in the Council of Lateran: for the Church did not, through the Council of Lateran, ordain that the faithful of Christ should confess,--a thing which it knew to be necessary, and to be instituted of divine right,--but that the precept of confession should be complied with, at least once a year, by all and each, when they have attained to years of discretion. Whence, throughout the whole Church, the salutary custom is, to the great benefit of the souls of the faithful, now observed, of confessing at that most sacred and most acceptable time of Lent,--a custom which this holy Synod most highly approves of and embraces, as pious and worthy of being retained.
But, as regards the minister of this sacrament, the holy Synod declares all these doctrines to be false, and utterly alien from the truth of the Gospel, which perniciously extend the ministry of the keys to any others soever besides bishops and priests; imagining, contrary to the institution of this sacrament, that those words of our 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, and, Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained,were in such wise addressed to all the faithful of Christ indifferently and indiscriminately, as that every one has the power of forgiving sins,-public sins to wit by rebuke, provided he that is rebuked shall acquiesce, and secret sins by a voluntary confession made to any individual whatsoever. It also teaches, that even priests, who are in mortal sin, exercise, through the virtue of the Holy Ghost which was bestowed in ordination, the office of forgiving sins, as the ministers of Christ; and that their sentiment is erroneous who contend that this power exists not in bad priests. But although the absolution of the priest is the dispensation of another's bounty, yet is it not a bare ministry only, whether of announcing the Gospel, or of declaring that sins are forgiven, but is after the manner of a judicial act, whereby sentence is pronounced by the priest as by a judge: and therefore the penitent ought not so to confide in his own personal faith, as to think that,--even though there be no contrition on his part, or no intention on the part of the priest of acting seriously and absolving truly,--he is nevertheless truly and in God's sight absolved, on account of his faith alone. For neither would [Page 101] faith without penance bestow any remission of sins; nor would he be otherwise than most careless of his own salvation, who, knowing that a priest but absolved him in jest, should not care fully seek for another who would act in earnest.
Wherefore, since the nature and order of a judgment require this, that sentence be passed only on those subject (to that judicature), it has ever been firmly held in the Church of God, and this Synod ratifies it as a thing most true, that the absolution, which a priest pronounces upon one over whom he has not either an ordinary or a deligated jurisdiction, ought to be of no weight whatever. And it hath seemed to our most holy Fathers to be of great importance to the discipline of the Christian people, that certain more atrocious and more heinous crimes should be absolved, not by all priests, but only by the highest priests: whence the Sovereign Pontiffs, in virtue of the supreme power delivered to them in the universal Church, were deservedly able to reserve, for their special judgment, certain more grievous cases of crimes. Neither is it to be doubted,--seeing that all things, that are from God, are well ordered-but that this same may be lawfully done by all bishops, each in his own diocese, unto edification, however, not unto destruction, in virtue of the authority, above (that of) other inferior priests, delivered to them over their subjects, especially as regards those crimes to which the censure of excommunication is annexed. But it is consonant to the divine authority, that this reservation of cases have effect, not merely in external polity, but also in God's sight. Nevertheless, for fear lest any may perish on this account, it has always been very piously observed in the said Church of God, that there be no reservation at the point [Page 102] of death, and that therefore all priests may absolve all penitents whatsoever from every kind of sins and censures whatever: and as, save at that point of death, priests have no power in reserved cases, let this alone be their endeavour, to persuade penitents to repair to superior and lawful judges for the benefit of absolution.
Finally, as regards satisfaction,--which as it is, of all the parts of penance, that which has been at all times recommended to the Christian people by our Fathers, so is it the one especially which in our age is, under the loftiest pretext of piety, impugned by those who have an appearance of godliness, but have denied the power thereof,--the holy Synod declares, that it is wholly false, and alien from the word of God, that the guilt is never forgiven by the Lord, without the whole punishment also being therewith pardoned. For clear and illustrious examples are found in the sacred writings, whereby, besides by divine tradition, this error is refuted in the plainest manner possible. And truly the nature of divine justice seems to demand, that they, who through ignorance have sinned before baptism, be received into grace in one manner; and in another those who, after having been freed 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, and to grieve the Holy Spirit. And it beseems the divine clemency, that sins be not in such wise pardoned us without any sat is fac tion, as that, taking occasion therefrom, thinking sins less grievous, we, offering as it were an insult and an outrage to the Holy Ghost, should fall into more grievous sins, treasuring up wrath against the Jay of wrath. For, doubtless, these satisfactory punishments greatly recall from sin, and check as it were with a bridle, and make penitents more cautious and watchful for the future; they are also remedies for the remains [Page 103] of sin, and, by acts of the opposite virtues, they remove the habits acquired by evil living. Neither indeed was there ever in the Church of God any way accounted surer to turn aside the impending chastisement of the Lord, than that men should, with true sorrow of mind, practise these works of penitence. Add to these things, that, whilst we thus, by making satisfaction, suffer for our sins, we are made conformable to Jesus Christ, who satisfied for our sins, from whom all our sufficiency is; having also thereby a most sure pledge, that if we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him. But neither is this satisfaction, which we discharge for our sins, so our own, as not to be through Jesus Christ. For we who can do nothing of ourselves, as of ourselves, can do all things, He cooperating, who strengthens us. Thus, man has not wherein to glory, but all our glorying is in Christ: in whom we live; in whom we merit; in whom we satisfy; bringing forth fruits worthy of penance, which from him have their efficacy; by him are offered to the Father; and through him are accepted by the Father. Therefore the priests of the Lord ought, as far as the Spirit and prudence shall suggest, to enjoin salutary and suitable satisfactions, according to the quality of the crimes and the ability of the penitent; lest, if haply they connive at sins, and deal too indulgently with penitents, by enjoining certain very light works for very grievous crimes, they be made partakers of other men 's sins. But let them have in view, that the satisfaction, which they impose, be not only for the preservation of a new life and a medicine of infirmity, but also for the avenging and punishing of past sins. For the ancient Fathers likewise both believe and teach, that the keys of the priests were given, not to loose only, but also to bind. But not therefore did they imagine that the sacrament of Penance is a tribunal of wrath or of punishments; even as no Catholic ever thought, by this kind of satisfactions on our parts, the efficacy of the merit and of the satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ is either obscured, [Page 104] or in any way lessened: which when the innovators seek to understand, they in such wise maintain a new o be the est penance, as to Fake away the entire efficacy and use of satisfaction.
The Synod teaches furthermore, that so great is the liberality of the divine munificence, that we are able through Jesus Christ to make satisfaction to God the Father, not only by punishments voluntarily undertaken of ourselves for the punishment of sin, or by those imposed at the discretion of the priest according to the measure of our delinquency, but also, which is a very great proof of love, by the temporal scourges inflicted of God, and borne patiently by us.
It hath also seemed good to the holy Synod, to subjoin, to the preceding doctrine on penance, the following on the sacrament of Extreme Unction, which by the Fathers was regarded as being the completion, not only of penance, but also of the whole Christian life, which ought to be a perpetual penance. First, therefore, as regards its institution, It declares and teaches, that our most gracious Redeemer,--who would have his servants at all times provided with salutary remedies against all the weapons of all their enemies,--as, in the other sacraments, He prepared the greatest aids, whereby, during life, Christians may preserve themselves whole from every more grievous spiritual evil, so did He guard the close of life, by the sacrament of Extreme Unction, as with a most firm defence. For though our adversary seeks and seizes opportunities, all our life long, to be able in any way to devour our souls; yet is there no time wherein he strains more vehemently all the powers of his craft to ruin us utterly, and, if he can possibly, to make us fall even from trust in the mercy of God, than when he perceives the end of our life to be at hand.
Now, this sacred unction of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord, as truly and properly a sacrament of the new law, insinuated indeed in Mark, but recommended and promulgated to the faithful by James the Apostle, and brother of the Lord. Is any man, he saith, 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. In which words, as the Church has learned from apostolic tradition, received from hand to hand, he teaches the matter, the form, the proper minister, and the effect of this salutary sacrament. For the Church has understood the matter thereof to be oil blessed by a bishop. For the unction very aptly represents the grace of the Holy Ghost with which the soul of the sick person is invisibly anointed; and furthermore that whose words, "By this unction," &c. are the form.
Moreover the thing signified and the effect of this sacrament are explained in those 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. For the thing here signified is the grace of the Holy Ghost; whose anointing cleanses away sins, if there be any still to be expiated, as also the remains of sins; and raises up and strengthens the soul of the sick person, by exciting in him a great confidence in the [Page 106] divine mercy; whereby the sick being supported, bears more easily the inconveniences and pains of his sickness; and more readily resists the temptations of the devil who lies in wait for his heel; and at times obtains bodily health, when expedient for the welfare of the soul.
And now as to prescribing who ought to receive, and who to administer this sacrament, this also was not obscurely delivered in the words above cited. For it is there also shown, that the proper ministers of this sacrament are the Presbyters of the Church; by which name are to be understood, in that place, not the elders by age, or the foremost in dignity amongst the people, but, either bishops, or priests by bishops rightly ordained by the imposition of the hands of the priesthood. It is also declared, that this unction is to be applied to the sick, but to those especially who lie in such danger as to seem to be about to depart this life: whence also it is called the sacrament of the departing. And if the sick should, after having received this unction, recover, they may again be aided by the succour of this sacrament, when they fall into another like danger of death. Wherefore, they are on no account to be hearkened to, who, against so manifest and clear a sentence of the apostle James, teach, either that this unction is a human figment or is a rite received from the Fathers which neither has a command from Cod, nor a promise of grace: nor those who assert that it has already ceased, as though it were only to be referred to the grace of healing in the primitive church; nor those who say that the rite and usage which the holy Roman Church observes in the administration of this sacrament is repugnant to the sentiment of the apostle James, and that it is therefore to be changed [Page 107] into some other: nor finally those who affirm that this Extreme Unction may without sin be contemned by the faithful : for all these things are most manifestly at variance with the perspicuous words of so great an apostle. Neither assuredly does the Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all other churches, observe aught in administering this unction,--as regards those things which constitute the substance of this sacrament,--but what blessed James has prescribed. Nor indeed can there be contempt of so great a sacrament without a heinous sin, and an injury to the Holy Ghost himself. These are the things which this holy oecumenical Synod professes and teaches and proposes to all the faithful of Christ, to be believed and held, touching the sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction. And it delivers the following canons to be inviolably preserved; and condemns and anathematizes those who assert what is contrary thereto.
CANON I.--If any one saith, that in the Catholic Church Penance is not truly and properly a sacrament, instituted by Christ our Lord for reconciling the faithful unto God, as often as they fall into sin after baptism; let him be anathema.
CANON II.--If any one, confounding the sacraments, saith that baptism is itself the sacrament of Penance, as though these two Sacraments were not distinct, and that therefore Penance is not rightly called a second plank after shipwreck; let him be anathema.
CANON III.--If any one saith, that those words of the Lord the Saviour, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained, are not to be understood of the power of forgiving and of retaining sins in the Sacrament of penance, as the Catholic Church has always from the beginning understood them; but wrests them, contrary to the institution of this sacrament, to the power of preaching the gospel; let him be anathema.
[Page 108] CANON IV.--If any one denieth, that, for the entire and perfect remission of sins, there are required three acts in the penitent, which are as it were the matter of the sacrament of Penance, to wit, contrition, confession, and satisfaction, which are called the three parts of penance; or saith that there are two parts only of penance, to wit, the terrors with which the conscience is smitten upon being convinced of sin, and the faith, generated by the gospel, or by the absolution, whereby one believes that his sins are forgiven him through Christ; let him be anathema.
CANON V.--If any one saith, that the contrition which is acquired by means of the examination, collection, and detestation of sins,--whereby one thinks over his years in the bitterness of his soul, by pondering on the grievousness, the multitude, the filthiness of his sins, the loss of eternal blessedness, and the eternal damnation which he has incurred, having therewith the purpose of a better life,--is not a true and profitable sorrow, does not prepare for grace, but makes a man a hypocrite and a greater sinner; in fine, that this (contrition) is a forced and not free and voluntary sorrow; let him be anathema.
CANON VI.--If any one denieth, either that sacramental confession was instituted, or is necessary to salvation, of divine right; or saith, that the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, which the Church hath ever observed from the beginning, and doth observe, is alien from the institution and command of Christ, and is a human invention; let him be anathema.
CANON VII.--If any one saith, that, in the sacrament of Penance, it is not necessary, of divine right, for the remission of sins, to confess all and singular the mortal sins which after due and diligent previous meditation are remembered, even those (mortal sins) which are secret, and those which are opposed to the two last commandments of the Decalogue, as also the circumstances which change the species of a sin; but (saith) that such confession is only useful to instruct and console the penitent, and that it was of old only observed in order to impose a [Page 109] canonical satisfaction; or saith that they, who strive to confess all their 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 VIII.--If any one saith, that the confession of all sins, such as it is observed in the Church, is impossible, and is a human tradition to be abolished by the godly; or that all and each of the faithful of Christ, of either sex, are not obliged thereunto once a year, conformably to the constitution of the great Council of Lateran, and that, for this cause, the faithful of Christ are to be persuaded not to con fess during Lent; let him be anathema.
CANON IX.--If any one saith, that the sacramental absolution of the priest is not a judicial act, but a bare ministry of pronouncing and declaring sins to be forgiven to him who confesses; provided only he believe himself to be absolved, or (even though) the priest absolve not in earnest, but in joke; or saith, that the confession of the penitent is not required, in order that the priest may be able to absolve him; let him be anathema.
CANON X.--If any one saith, that priests, who are in mortal sin, have not the power of binding and of loosing; or, that not priests alone are the ministers of absolution, but that, to all and each of the faithful of Christ is it said: 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; and, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained; by virtue of which words every one is able to absolve from sins, to wit, from public sins by reproof only, provided he who is reproved yield thereto, and from secret sins by a voluntary confession; let him be anathema.
CANON XI.--If any one saith, that bishops have not the right of reserving cases to themselves, except as regards external polity, and that therefore the reservation of cases hinders not but that a priest may truly absolve from reserved cases; let him be anathema.
[Page 110] CANON XII.--If any one saith, that God always remits the whole punishment together with the guilt, and that the satisfaction of penitents is no other than the faith whereby they apprehend that Christ has satisfied for them; let him be anathema.
CANON XIII.--If any one saith, that satisfaction for sins, as to their temporal punishment, is nowise made to God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, by the punishments inflicted by Him, and patiently borne, or by those enjoined by the priest, nor even by those voluntarily undertaken, as by fastings, prayers, almsdeeds, or by other works also of piety; and that, therefore, the best penance is merely a new life; let him be anathema.
CANON XIV.--If any one saith, that the satisfaction, by which penitents redeem their sins through Jesus 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 benefit itself of the death of Christ; let him be anathema.
CANON XV.--If any one saith, that the keys are given to the Church, only to loose, not also to bind; and that, therefore, priests act contrary to the purpose of the keys, and contrary to the institution of Christ, when they impose punishments on those who confess; and that it is a fiction, that, after the eternal punishment, has, by virtue of the keys, been removed, there remains for the most part a temporal punishment to be discharged; let him be anathema.
CANON I.--If any one saith, that Extreme Unction is not truly and properly a sacrament, instituted by Christ our Lord, and promulgated by the blessed apostle James; but is only a rite received from the Fathers, or a human figment; let him be anathema.
[Page 111] CANON II.--If any one saith, that the sacred unction of the sick does not confer grace, nor remit sin, nor comfort(h) the sick; but that it has already ceased, as though it were of old only the grace of working Cures; let him be anathema.
CANON III.--If any one saith, that the rite and usage of Extreme Unction, which the holy Roman Church observes, is repugnant to the sentiment of the blessed apostle James, and that is therefore to be changed, and may, without sin, be contemned by Christians; let him be anathema.
CANON IV.--If any one saith, that the Presbyters 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 Cause a priest alone is not the proper minister of Extreme Unction; let him be anathema.
It is the office of bishops to admonish their subjects, especially those appointed to the cure of souls, of their duty.
Whereas it is properly the office of bishops to reprove the vices of all who are subject to them, this will have to be principally their care,--that clerics, especially those appointed to the cure of souls, be blameless; and that they do not, with their connivance, lead a disorderly life: for if they suffer them to be of evil and corrupt conversation, how shall they reprove the laity for their vices, when they themselves can be by one word silenced by them, for that they suffer clerics to be worse than they? And with what freedom shall priests be able to correct laymen, when they have to answer silently to themselves, that they have committed the very things which they reprove? Wherefore, bishops shall charge their clergy, of whatsoever rank they be, that they be a guide to the people of God committed to them, in conduct, conservation, and doctrine; being mindful of that which is written, Be holy for I also am holy. And, agreeably to the admonition of the apostle; Let them not give [Page 112] offence to any man, that their ministry be not blamed; but in all things let them exhibit themselves as the ministers of God, lest that saying of the prophet be fulfilled in them, The priests of God defile the sanctuaries, and despise the law. But, in order that the said bishops may be able to execute this with greater freedom, and may not be hindered therein under any pretext whatever, the same sacred and holy, ocecumenical and general Synod of Trent, the same legate and nuncios of the Apostolic See presiding therein, has thought fit that these canons following be established and decreed.
Whereas it is more beseeming and safe for one that is subject, by rendering due obedience to those set over him, to serve in an inferior ministry, than, to the scandal of those set over him, to aspire to the dignity of a more exalted degree; to him, unto whom the ascent to sacred orders shall have been interdicted by his own prelate, from whatsoever cause, be it even on account of some secret crime, or in what manner soever, even extra-judicially; and to him who shall have been suspended from his own orders, or ecclesiastical degrees and dignities; no license, conceded against the will of that said prelate, for causing himself to be promoted, nor any restoration to former orders, degrees, dignities and honours, shall be of any avail.
And forasmuch as certain bishops of churches which are in partibus infidelium, (in the districts of unbelievers), having [Page 113] neither clergy nor Christian people, and being in a manner wanderers, having no fixed see, and seeking not the things of Christ, but other's sheep without the knowledge of their own pastor, finding themselves prohibited by this holy Synod from exercising episcopal functions in the diocese of another, without the express permission of the ordinary of the place, and then only in regard of those who are subject to the said ordinary, do, by an evasion and in contempt of the law, of their own rashness choose as it were an episcopal chair in a place which is not of any diocese, and presume to mark with the clerical character, and to promote even to the sacred orders of the priesthood, any that come unto them, even though they have no commendatory letters from their own bishops, or prelates; whence it for the most part comes to pass, that, persons being ordained who are but little fit, and are uninstructed and ignorant, and who have been rejected by their own bishops as incapable and unworthy, they are neither able rightly to perform the divine offices, nor to administer the sacraments of the Church: none of the bishops, who are called titular, even though they may reside, or tarry in a place within no diocese, even though it be exempted, or in a monastery of whatsoever order, shall, by virtue of any privilege granted them to promote during a certain time such as come unto them, be able to ordain, or to promote to any sacred or minor orders, or even to the first tonsure, the subject of another bishop, even under the pretext of his being his domestic fed constantly at his own table, without the express consent of, or without letters demissory from that individual's own bishop. The contravener shall be ipso jure suspended during a year from the exercise of pontifical functions; and the person so promoted shall in like manner be suspended from the exercise of the orders so received, for as long as to his own prelate shall seem fit.
The bishop may suspend, for the time that shall seem to him fit, from the exercise of the orders received, and may interdict from ministering at the altar, or from exercising the functions of any order, any of his clerics, especially those who are in sacred orders, who have been, without his previous examination and commendatory letters, promoted by any authority whatsoever; even though they shall have been approved of as competent by him who has ordained them, but whom he himself shall find but little fit and able to celebrate the divine offices, or to administer the sacraments of the Church.
All prelates of the churches, who ought diligently to apply themselves to correct the excesses of their subjects,-and from whose jurisdiction, by the statutes of this holy Synod, no cleric is, under the pretext of any privilege soever, considered screened, so as not to be able to be visited, punished and corrected, in accordance with the appointments of the canons,--provided those prelates be resident in their own churches,--shall have power, as delegates for this end of the Apostolic See, to correct and punish, even out of the times of visitation, all Secular clerics,--howsoever exempted, who would otherwise be subject to their jurisdiction,--for their excesses, crimes, and delinquencies, as often as, and whensoever there shall be need; no exemptions, declarations, customs, sentences, oaths, concordates, which only bind the authors thereof, being of any avail to the said clerics, [Page 115] or to their relatives, chaplains, domestics, agents, or to any others whatsoever, in view and in consideration of the said exempted clerics.
Moreover, whereas sundry persons, under the plea that divers wrongs and annoyances are inflicted on them in their goods, possessions, and rights, obtain certain judges to be deputed by means of letters conservatory, to protect and defend them from the said annoyances and wrongs, and to maintain and keep them in possession, or quasi-possession, of their goods, property, and rights, without suffering them to be molested therein; and whereas they pervert these letters, in many ways, to an evil meaning quite opposed to the intention of the donor;--therefore, these letters conservatory, whatsoever be their clauses or decrees, whatsoever be the judges deputed, or under whatsoever other kind of pretext or colour, these letters may have been granted, shall not avail any, of what dignity and condition soever, even though a Chapter, so as to screen the party from being capable of being, in criminal and mixed causes, accused and summoned, and from being examined and proceeded against before his own bishop, or other ordinary superior; or prevent him from being liable to be freely summoned before the ordinary judge, in the matter of any rights which may be pleaded as his from having been ceded to him. In civil causes also, if he be the plaintiff, it shall nowise be lawful for him to bring up any one for judgment before his own judges conservatory. And if, in those causes wherein he shall be the defendant, it shall happen that the conservator chosen by him shall be declared by the plaintiff to be one suspected by him, or if any dispute shall have arisen between the judges themselves, the conservator [Page 116] to wit and the ordinary, concerning competency of jurisdiction, the cause shall not be proceeded with, until by arbitrators, chosen in legal form, a decision shall have been come to relative to the said suspicion, or competency of jurisdiction. Neither shall these letters conservatory be of any avail to the said party's domestics--who are in the habit of screening themselves thereby--save to two only, and this provided they live at his proper cost. Neither shall any one enjoy the benefit of such letters longer than for five years. It shall also not be lawful for conservatory judges to have any fixed tribunal. As to causes which relate to wages and to destitute persons, the decree of this holy Synod thereupon shall remain in its full force. But general universities, colleges of doctors or scholars, places belonging to Regulars, as also hospitals wherein hospitality is actually exercised, and persons belonging to the said universities, colleges, places, and hospitals are not to be deemed included in this present canon, but are to be considered, and are, wholly exempted.
And forasmuch as, though the habit does not make the monk, it is nevertheless needful that clerics always wear a dress suitable to their proper order, that by the decency of their outward apparel they may show forth the inward correctness of their morals; but to such a pitch, in these days, have the contempt of religion and the rashness of some grown, as that, making but little account of their own dignity, and of the clerical honour, they even wear in public the dress of laymen--setting their feet in different paths, one of God, the other of the flesh;-for this cause, all ecclesiastical persons, howsoever exempted, who are either in sacred orders or in possession of any manner of dignities, personates, or other offices, or benefices ecclesiastical; [Page 117] if, after having been admonished by their own bishop, even by a public edict, they shall not wear a becoming clerical dress, suitable to their order and dignity, and in conformity with the ordinance and mandate of the said bishop, they may, and ought to be, compelled thereunto, by suspension from their orders, office, benefice, and from the fruits, revenues, and proceeds of the said benefices; and also, if, after having been once rebuked, they offend again herein, (they are to be coerced) even by deprivation of the said offices and benefices; pursuant to the constitution of Clement V. published in the Council of Vienne, and beginning Quoniam, which is hereby renewed and enlarged.
Whereas too, he who has killed his neighbour on set purpose and by lying in wait for him, is to be taken away from the altar, (q) because he has voluntarily committed a homicide ; even though that crime have neither been proved by ordinary process of law, nor be otherwise public, but is secret, such an one can never be promoted to sacred orders; nor shall it be lawful to confer upon him any ecclesiastical benefices, even though they have no cure of souls; but he shall be for ever excluded from every ecclesiastical order, benefice, and office. But if it be alleged that the homicide was not committed purposely but accidentally, or when repelling force by force that he might defend himself from death, in such wise that, by a kind of right, a dispensation ought to be granted, even for the ministry of sacred orders, and of the altar, and for any kind of benefice whatever and dignity,-the case shall be committed to the Ordinary of the place, or, if there be a cause for it, to the metropolitan, or to the nearest bishop; who shall not be able [Page 118] to dispense, without having taking cognizance of the case, and after the prayers and allegations have been proved, and not otherwise.
Furthermore, forasmuch as there are sundry persons,--some of whom even are true pastors, and have their own sheep,--who seek also to rule over the sheep of others, and at times give their attention in such wise to the subjects of others, as to neglect the care of their own; no one, even though he be of episcopal dignity, who may have by privilege the power of punishing the subjects of another, shall by any means proceed against clerics not subject to him,--especially against such as are in sacred orders,--be they guilty of crime ever so atrocious; except with the intervention of the proper bishop of the said clerics, if that bishop be resident in his own church, or of the person that may be deputed by the said bishop: otherwise, the proceedings, and all the consequences thereof, shall be wholly without effect.
And forasmuch as it is with very good reason that dioceses and parishes have been made distinct, and to each flock their proper pastors have been assigned, and to inferior churches their rectors, each to take care of his own sheep, that so ecclesiastical order may not be confounded, or one and the same church belong in some sort to two dioceses, not without grievous inconvenience to such as are subject thereunto; the benefices of one diocese, be they even parochial churches, perpetual vicarages, simple benefices, prestimonies, or prestimonial portions, shall [Page 119] not be united in perpetuity to a benefice, monastery, college, or even to a pious place, of another diocese, not even for the sake of augmenting divine worship, or the number of beneficiaries, or for any other cause whatsoever; thus herein explaining the decree of this holy Synod on the subject of these unions.
Benefices of Regulars that have been accustomed to be granted in title to professed Regulars, when they happen to become vacant by the death of the titulary incumbent, or by his resignation, or otherwise, shall be conferred on religious of that order only, or on persons who shall be absolutely bound to take the habit, and make that profession, and upon none others, that they may not wear a garment that is woven of woollen and linen together.
But forasmuch as Regulars, after being transferred from one order to another, ordinarily obtain permission easily from their superior to remain out of their monastery, whereby occasion is given of their wandering about and apostatizing; no prelate or superior of any order shall be allowed, by virtue of any faculty whatsoever, to admit any individual to the habit and to profession, except with the view that he shall remain perpetually in enclosure under obedience to his own superior, in the order itself to which he is transferred; and one so transferred, even though he be a canon Regular, shall be wholly incapable of Secular Benefices, even of cures.
No one, moreover, of whatsoever ecclesiastical or Secular dignity, can, or ought to, obtain, or acquire a right of patronage, for any other reason whatever, but that he has founded, and built anew, a church, benefice, or chapel; or that he has competently endowed, out of his own proper and patrimonial resources, one already erected, which, however, is without a sufficient endowment. But, in case of such foundation or endowment, the institution thereof 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 whatsoever, to present any one, in any way, to the benefices which are under his right of patronage, except to the ordinary bishop of the place, to whom the providing for, or the institution to, the said benefice would, that privilege ceasing, of right belong; otherwise the presentation and institution, which may have followed, shall be null, and as such reputed.
The holy Synod declares, moreover, that, in the next Session, which It has already decreed is to beholden on the twenty-fifth [Page 121] day of January, of the ensuing year, MDLII,--It will, together with the sacrifice of the mass, also apply itself to, and treat of the sacrament of order, and that the subject of reformation will be prosecuted.