24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain?! Council of Trent and the canon of Scripture

Was reading on Wikipedia, and this came up and intrigued me. (Yes I know Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable of places…)

“The Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, by vote (24 yea, 15 nay, 16 abstain) approved the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon including the Deuterocanonical Books.”

Waaaait… what? Is this true? If the canon of scripture was set in stone as some Catholics like to claim before this point, then how come 15 cardinals/bishops voted no to the canon, and 16 abstained?! You’d think it would be a bit more unanimous than that??

A cursory Internet search produces a plentiful supply of protestant websites that use the exact verbiage as the wikipedia quote. Apparently, the statement (from-Wiki, Metzger pg. 246) is being used as an “Aha!” moment against the Catholic Church.
May cooler heads prevail:
newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm & newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.htm

According to St. Alphonsus Liguori is his work on the Council of Trent, he states that, “all were of the opinion that the Council should approve of all the sacred books.”

The only question where there was some difficulty was, “whether the books which we have of the Bible should be subjected to a new examination for approbation.” St. Alphonsus goes on to say, “many, with Cardinal Del Monte and cardinal Pacecco objected to such an examination, saying that it was the practice of the Church not to call in question definitions already made. On the other hand, many maintained that the examination should be made in order to give greater authority to the truth . . .” He does not give a breakdown of the vote but I assume that this is what the article is referring to.


The Wikipedia article is inaccurate and it misapplies its source in Metzger. The vote re: the Deuterocanon was a unanimous vote – not a single Council Father voted against the current Canon of Scripture. They all voted unanimously simply to repeat the Canon that had been listed at the Council of Florence, which included the Deuterocanon. The official language was: “Et omnes responderunt placet” – “And all responded yes.” After that, they held a vote on whether they should include an anathema which would excommunicate all who disagreed; that was where only 24 of them voted in favor of the anathema. But the Canon itself was unanimously approved with the Deuterocanon. source

Metzger’s book itself, as quoted by Wikipedia, does not say that they voted 24-15-16 to “approve ] the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon” (as Wikipedia incorrectly infers) but rather that they voted 24-15-16 to make that Canon “an absolute article of faith ] confirmed by an anathema.” There’s a big difference between those two things. What Wikipedia should say is that the Council Fathers voted unanimously to “approve ] the present Roman Catholic Bible Canon” and then voted 24-15-16 to anathematize all who disagree.

Is there a tally of votes in here?

Wiki got it wrong! Say it ain’t so, dmoe. :smiley: Thanks for the link and clarification. Well done.

Thanks for the Article - - Very informative…:thumbsup:


Sultan… As a practicing Catholic, I feel obligated to tell you that Wikipedia may not be the most accurate source for all things Catholic. In fact, except for minor topics (sports, etc…), Wikipedia is notoriously UN-reliable. They are the used car salesmen of online encyclopedias.

There are a great many online Catholic apologetics sites that cover the Deuterocanon, as well as the Council of Trent.


There are also many tracts and threads here on www.catholic.com about BOTH subjects. Good hunting!

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