Ecumenism and the Council of Trent
Mary Ann Collins
There is a hidden agenda behind the ecumenical movement. Official Catholic documents from the Second Vatican Council show that the purpose behind ecumenism is to bring Protestants back into the Catholic Church.The Council of Trent anathematized (cursed) every Christian who disagrees with any detail of Catholic doctrine. These anathemas have never been canceled.
VATICAN II AND ECUMENISM
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) wrote 16 official documents. It also gave some groups of experts the task of working out the details of how to apply the principles and directives of the Council. These groups of men wrote official “post conciliar” documents to more fully elaborate what had been written by the Council. The conciliar and post conciliar documents are published together in a two-volume work.
The Council’s “Decree on Ecumenism” states that ecumenical activity cannot result in changing any aspect of the Catholic faith. [Note 1] This foundational principle is reflected in the post conciliar documents dealing with ecumenism.
For example, Post Conciliar Document No. 42 says that the purpose of ecumenism is to transform the thinking and behavior of non-Catholics so that eventually all Christians will be united in one Church. It states that unity means being “in the Catholic Church.” [Note 2]In other words, as far as Rome is concerned, “unity” means that all Christians will become Roman Catholics.
THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
Reaching out in a friendly, respectful way to “separated brethren” seems inconsistent with the Council of Trent.
The Council of Trent (1545-1564) was the Roman Catholic Church’s response to the Protestant Reformation. It denounced every single doctrine which was proposed by the Protestant Reformers. It declared that any person who believes even one of these doctrines is “anathema” (cursed).
It also defined Catholic doctrines, detail by detail, and declared that anybody who denies even one of these details is anathema. These include the authority of the Pope, the practice of indulgences, veneration of Mary and the saints, and the use of statues. So the Council of Trent anathematizes all Protestants.
Declarations relating to doctrines that are especially important to Evangelicals are available online. [Note 3] The declarations of the Council of Trent were published as a book. [Note 4]
OFFICIAL MODERN ENDORSEMENT OF
The declarations and anathemas of the Council of Trent have never been revoked. On the contrary, the decrees of the Council of Trent are confirmed by both the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the official “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (1992).
The documents of the Second Vatican Council cite the Council of Trent as an authority for doctrinal statements, both in the text and in the notes. The “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church” states that the Second Vatican Council “proposes again the decrees of” three previous councils, one of which is the Council of Trent. [Note 5] The “Decree on the Training of Priests” says that the Second Vatican Council continued the work of the Council of Trent. [Note 6]
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” was written for the purpose of summarizing the essential and basic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1992 and the English translation was released in 1994. It has numbered paragraphs, and has been published in many languages.The Council of Trent is mentioned in seventy-five paragraphs of the “Catechism”. It is always mentioned in a positive, authoritative way. Some paragraphs mention it two or three times. Paragraph 9 of the “Catechism” says that the Council of Trent was the origin of Catholic Catechisms. The other 74 paragraphs in the “Catechism” which mention it cite the Council of Trent as an authoritative source which supports their doctrinal statements. [Note 7]
THE ANATHEMAS OF THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
According to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the Catholic doctrine of infallibility applies not only to the Pope, but also to Church Councils (including the Council of Trent). [Note 8]
As a result, the official statements of the Council of Trent are considered to be infallible. This means that they cannot be changed. Therefore, the anathemas of the Council of Trent cannot be revoked.
The Catholic Church may find it expedient not to call people’s attention to these anathemas, but it cannot revoke them.
The Catholic Church is engaging in ecumenical dialog with Protestants, calling them “separated brethren,” and speaking as if it respects their beliefs. But at the same time, behind the scenes, it still officially declares that they are cursed because of their beliefs.
USE OF THIS ARTICLE
I encourage you to link to this article. You have permission to quote from this article, as long as you do it fairly and accurately. You have permission to make copies of this article for friends and for use in classes.
1. “Unitatis Redintegratio (“Decree on Ecumenism”), Paragraph 24. In Austin Flannery (Editor), “Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents,” Volume 1, New Revised Edition, fourth printing. Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1998, page 470.
2. “Reflections and Suggestions Concerning Ecumenical Dialogue” (Post Conciliar Document No. 42). In Austin Flannery (Editor), “Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents,” Volume 1, New Revised Edition, fourth printing. Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1998, pages 540-541. The quotation is on page 541.
3. This article from a Baptist web site gives general information about the Council of Trent. It quotes a number of decrees relating to Evangelical doctrines.
4. “Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent” (Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1978)
5. “Lumen Gentium” (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”), paragraph 51. In Austin Flannery (Editor), “Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents,” Volume 1, New Revised Edition, fourth printing. Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1998, page 412.
6. “Optatum Totius” (“Decree on Priestly Training”), Conclusion. In Austin Flannery (Editor), “Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents,” Volume 1, New Revised Edition, fourth printing. Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1998, page 724.
7. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” used to be available online with a search engine that enabled you to search for things by key word or by paragraph number. I searched for “Council of Trent” and found the phrase in 75 paragraphs. I printed those paragraphs and read them. Unfortunately, that search engine is no longer working.
8. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” Paragraph 891. The “Catechism” is available in many languages and many editions. It has numbered paragraphs so you can locate things precisely, no matter what language it is in or what edition you are using.