Council of Trent


So, I’m diving into some reading about the formation and refinement of the Catholic Church and just read about the Council of Trent.

I was really surprised at how long it took for it to be officially called. It seemed as though there was always some reason for it to be delayed - Italian politics, Clement VII fear of being deposed due to his illegitimate birth and smear of simony during his election, the French fearing the end of the Protestant Reformation and thus a unified Germany, Charles V attack on Rome…it just goes ON!

It makes me wonder what would have happened if the Council was promptly called and the heresies of the PR, as well as theological within the Church, were addressed right away.

What do you think would have happened? Do you think the Church would look different today?


There’s no doubt that the problems within the Church were allowed to fester and grow for far too long, and this greatly contributed to the success of the protestant movement.

And it’s not like Luther was the first guy to realize the Church had problems. Many of his 95 Thesis were credible and actionable and were apparent to everyone.

The world would surely be different today if somebody like Gregory the Great had been Pope. But it’s hard to speculate what the world would look like 500+ years later.

The council spanned a period of 17 years and 3 Popes, producing many written doctrines and dogmatic creeds. Many think that much of what the council produced has been abrogated but that’s not necessarily true. True that many anathemas have been superceded by later Canon Laws but the underlying doctrine still applies AFAIK.

And don’t forget the Catechism of Trent also came as a result of this council. Explains many things, such as spiritual communion et al. Good resource.

Not to mention if even someone like our post-VII Popes had been Pope during that time. We have been very blessed by having six very holy men as Pope since the convening of the Second Vatican Council (I’m including St. John XXIII here, who opened the council and John Paul I, who died a month after his election). Even if we include all the Popes since the beginning of the twentieth century, it’s been a good list (this includes St. Pius X, Venerable Pius XII, as well as Benedict XV and Pius XI).

Part of the problem was that during the High Middle Ages through the Renaissance and Reformation (and often beyond), the Popes were extremely engaged in king-making and European secular politics. In other words, the Popes had much secular power - not just spiritual and moral power. And such secular power corrupted many of the men who were elected Pope. Fortunately, it didn’t corrupt their teachings - but it sure changed the way they dealt with people.

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