Did the council of Trent take over a century to be implemented?

[quote=Sean OL]it took up to 100 years to implement the Decrees of the Council of Trent!

[quote=Genesis3:15] it took Trent over a century to be properly implemented).

I have heard similar comments numerous times by those who attempt to explain the chaos that has erupted since Vatican II as being the normal course of events that follow a council.

My question is: what are some examples of the decrees that it took over 100 years to implement?

Since this claim is made so often, there certainly must be numerous websites that have gathered a list of these decrees with examples of how they were not implemented for 100 years. I did a google search and couldn’t find any of them.

So, my question for those who make this claim over and over again is this: what evidence is there to support the claim? I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I haven’t seen it.

And if there is no evidence to support the claim, why is it brought forward so often?

So they can justify the royal disaster the “implementation” or lack thereof Vatican II has brought in the last 40 years.

The Council of Trent was a dogmatic council (it published dogma and anathematized those who disagreed), easily the grandest of all time, and called for a very grand reason–there was a very real danger that the Catholic Church would not survive the so-called Reformation. In fact, only the blessing of having the greatest saints of relatively modern times as the main council fathers caused it to succeed.

Trent is not to be compared to Vatican II, which was a purely pastoral council that neither defined nor overturned any doctrine. I am of the school that thinks it has been as mis-implemented as it has been implemented (everything about current church architecture, complete switch to vernacular Mass, etc.), but the debate goes on, as I suppose it must.

Historically, I think the slow implementation of councils had a lot to do with slow communication in some cases (it just took a while for decrees to trickle from Constantinople to a missionary priest in Gaul or Britain) and large objectives (Trent, for instance, called for the formation of seminaries, not something accomplished overnight). Still, there has also always been obstinance involved, and the slow pace of reform sometimes might happen because the legate delivering the documents of a council would be openly defied.

On the whole, I would like to see specific examples of the decrees that took a full century to implement, but for certain things, like the seminaries, I would think a decade would be a quite reasonable interval.

I guess the answer all depends on what you mean by “implemented.” Certainly the Roman Missal was not implemented in France until around 100 years after it was promulgated. This is documented in numerous historical reference texts regarding the Mass. Other aspects were implemented fairly rapidly when one considers the means of communication available at the time.

If one looks only at the disciplinary measures enacted at Trent they were implemented within 30 years of the close of the council. Dogmatic teachings were reflected far more quickly, probably with five to 10 years depending on where one was in the world.

The only real resistance to any part of Trent was to the Roman Missal, and that was primarily in France and somewhat in the Slavic lands (due to political problems there having little to do with the missal itself).

Deacon Ed

Not necessarily. It’s just that there is a dearth of information about Trent, unfortunately. The only thing really available are the canons themselves which are cited without reference to the debates and further actions surrounding them. Part of this problem being that most of the full authorative accounts are all in Latin and rare. I was reading some really interesting things about Trent and the Mass via someone who read these accounts of Trent.

Anyhow, for example, the decrees on the clergy were not accepted. When Henry III was shown the decrees by the bishop of Bazas he merely said "if the clergy wish to reform, they can do so by the old decrees of the church; they have only to resolve to devote a third part of their income to the support of the poor as in ancient times. As to the adoption of the decrees of Trent, the Pope himself no longer urges it since he sees they are not suited to the constitution of France. "

I also quote from “The Canons of the Council of Trent”

“They were received with a caution as to discipline and the authority of kings b Spain, Naples and Sicily. The Council was never published in France notwithstanding all the attempts of Rome to effect it. The king sustained the superior liberty of the Gallician church”

In the regions where Gallicianism was strong, in parts of Germany and the Empire, even in Spain at first, there were tens of studies by jurists and canonists to show that Trent was not binding, the king had greater authority, etc.,etc.

[quote=Deacon Ed]; If one looks only at the disciplinary measures enacted at Trent they were implemented within 30 years of the close of the council. Dogmatic teachings were reflected far more quickly, probably with five to 10 years depending on where one was in the world.

Deacon Ed

What is required to implement a doctrinal decree?

For example, the following are some of the decrees on justification.

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON II.-If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema.

[Page 45] CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

CANON V.-If any one saith, that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, yea a name without a reality, a figment, in fine, introduced into the Church by Satan; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.-If any one saith, that it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil God worketh as well as those that are good, not permissively only, but properly, and of Himself, in such wise that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.-If any one saith, that all works done before Justification, in whatsoever way they be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; or that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins: let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.-If any one saith, that the fear of hell,-whereby, by grieving for our sins, we flee unto the mercy of God, or refrain from sinning,-is a sin, or makes sinners worse; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON X.-If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema.

What is there to implement? They are dogmatic statements that Catholics are required to asset to. If they do not assent, they are anathema. There is no implemetation required.

I just did a quick search through the decrees of the council and couldn’t locate the decrees on the clergy. I wanted to take a look at these decrees and see what the decrees decreed. The following is a link to the decrees of the council. Can you locate the ones you were referring to and post them? Thanks


Let’s remember, though, that many places in France may not have needed to implelement the 1570 missal because they had books of sufficient antiquity. There were more missals that passed the 200 year criterion than we typically expect today. I know it caricatures the point you were trying to make, but Milan didn’t “implement” any Roman Missal really until they reformed their liturgy to keep pace with the NO - and this of course had nothing to do with Trent lying in abeyance.

Look under the decrees on reformation in the various sessions. They were many things enacted regarding the clergy.

Fr. Hebert Thurston did an examination of the various French diocesan liturgies around at the time, and concluded that while some of them certainly had a good claim (e.g. Lyons, Paris) most of the others didn’t. However, on no account were they going to start celebrating a *Roman * Mass. It didn’t rank well for the Gallician sections of the French Church or even those who supported Rome, but were still quite nationalistic. In that period, by many proponents and opponents, it was looked at that if you used the Roman Missal you were in the Pope’s camp, and if not, well then…your standing was dubious. For which reason even in palces which had established liturgies over 200 years, there were always extreme ultramontantists who burnt all the liturgical books and enforced the use of the Roman missal. The attitude was repeated in the 18th and 19th centuries when ancient or no, everything was swept to make room for the Roman Missal.

Even the Ambrosian liturgy was touched by the Roman- it had to, in oder to survive. Not like after the NO, but it was affected. It was only the powerful protection of St. Charles Borromeo that prevented a thorough Romanising of the Ambrosian liturgy.

Permit me to supplement the observations of AJV above with a couple of my own. I disagree that there is a dearth of information about the Council of Trent - given the time it was held.

Serious consideration of the Council of Trent must be done in historical context.

It is tempting to look at Vatican II and jump mentally to the conclusion that the Council of Trent was conducted under similar circumstances. That is, the place of the council was easily fixed, the participants appeared without objection to the time or place, that most of the western world looked on with respect at best and mild interest at worst, and that the proceedings were conducted in a generally civilized manner. I don’t recall any secular power trying directly to influence Vatican II.

The Council of Trent presented far different religious and political circumstances. The Church still retained immense temporal power in Italy, civil authorities from other countries (especially France) were heavily invested, the place of the council was the subject of dispute, the council lasted for decades through several popes and various changes in the civil powers, and there were years-long intervals when the council did not meet at all. During at least one papacy (maybe more) the council did not meet. By the time it was done, most involved wanted it over with. It had been a long work in progress.

The Catholic Encyclopedia is a good starting point for reading about the Council of Trent.

The Council of Trent did publish dogmatic statements directed to issue that the reformation had raised. Some are quoted above. I think that an argument can be made that for the most part the Council reaffirmed dogma and did not originate it.

Could you please tell where the deliberations of the Fathers in the various sessions, the commissions they set up, and things like that, are available?

**Did the council of Trent take over a century to be **implemented?

It took 18 years to just conduct the council…
Session 1: December 13:1545
Session 25: December 4, 1563

Good things take time. :wink:

The Roman Catechism is probably an good example of something that took much time to “implement.” The Jesuits refused to accept the authority of the Catechism as decisive. The first English edition was 1829. As late as 1899, Leo XIII was still having to exhort French bishops to have their seminarians study from the Roman Catechism (Leo XII, Letter to French Bishop, 8 Sept., 1899). Likewise, in his day Pius X was still exhorting that preachers teach it to the faithful. Seems the post-Trent popes up to and including Pius X had to deal with some stubborn dissenters of their own.

Any evidence of arguments over the interpretation of the doctrinal canons like we have with the disputes over what Vatican II really taught?

Extract from:

Source – formerly at: faswebdesign.com/StJoe/RCath-L/history1.htm

Refer: Part XI –
“Acceptance of Pius V’s Missal

“As mentioned above, the missal of Pius V was not universally accepted. The best examples of this can be found in France where, for over a hundred years, from the second quarter of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, many French dioceses continued to use their own missals. Although these missals are called “neo-gallican” they had nothing to do with the Gallican Sacramentary. Although they faithfully followed the Roman Mass they departed in areas of readings and saint’s days. These missals are important, not because of their disobedience to the pope, but rather because they greatly influenced later liturgical reforms. In the middle of the nineteenth century a battle over the missals ensued (much like we find today) and the “revisionists” (those who followed the Missal of Pius V) won out over the “traditionalists” (those who continued to use the local missals) and these local missals ceased being used.

“Thus, the changes following Trent were implemented, albeit slowly, around the world. They were not met with universal acceptance and joy and were, in fact, resisted in many areas. Eventually, however, the changes found their place in virtually every church and every heart. For nearly 400 years the Mass of Pius V was the standard form of worship for most Catholics. This Mass, with its evident grandeur and ritual formed and shaped many of the great saints of the Church, was exported to all parts of the world, and offered a view of Church that was formed and shaped in the crucible of the Protestant Reformation.
“Yet the changes and reforms did not do all that the Church Fathers had wanted. Lay participation was still minimal, reserved to hearing the Mass as rather passive spectators. As in the era before the reform, the laity found their fulfillment in private devotions which, in turn, fueled their faith and helped them to attend Mass faithfully. Eventually, however, the forces that lead to change would burst through and even the Tridentine Mass would find itself being changed. In our next and final installment we shall examine those forces of change, both those that preceded Vatican II, and those that led up to Vatican II. “

NB: No longer available on the internet – but I have the article on file. Sean O L.

Sorry for delays: my wife and I have recently moved into a Retirement Village Unit at Ballarat, and my internet usage is now very limited!

Why would the decrees not accepted? I think because they exclude immoral priests, bishops etc.

We’ve missed you Mr. O! Glad you’re back!:clapping:

The neo-Galican missal was part of the Premonstratensian Rite which came from St. Norbert, not the Roman Rite. Since the missal used by the Premonstratensian Rite had existed for more than 200 years, its continued use was allowed.

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