George Everson



My pastor has some questions that I am earnestly trying to answer and I hope someone out there can help me. He would like to know if the anathemas that were supposed to have been made against the doctine of justification by faith at the Council of Trent were ever softened or changed by later councils or decrees. Could someone point me to a document (perhaps a section in the Catechism or somewhere else) which gives the Roman Catholic Church’s present day response to the doctine of justification as understood by the Reformers?

Thank you for any help you can give.

Blessings in Christ

George Everson


Try asking the good men and women at the Coming Home Network.


I’ve not read this yet but I’ll link it here in case you want to check it out:

The Catholic Understanding of the Anathemas of Trent and Excommunication

by Catholic Apologist Dave Armstrong

Hope it helps

Keep the Faith


From Justification by Faith Alone by Catholic Apologist, James Akin:

According to Catholic doctrine, faith encompasses both trusting in God on the basis of his mercifulness proved in Jesus Christ and confessing the salvific work of God through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Yet this faith is never alone. It includes other acts

The same thing was recognized in a document written a few years ago under the auspices of the (Catholic) German Conference of Bishops and the bishops of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (the Lutheran church). The purpose of the document, titled The Condemnations of the Reformation Era: Do They Still Divide?, was to determine which of the sixteenth-century Catholic and Protestant condemnations are still applicable to the other party. Thus the joint committee which drafted the document went over the condemnations from Trent and assessed which of them no longer applied to Lutherans and the condemnations of the Augsburg Confession and the Smalcald Articles, etc., and assesses which of them are not applicable to Catholics.

When it came to the issue of justification by faith alone, the document concluded:

"[T]oday the difference about our interpretation of faith is no longer a reason for mutual condemnation . . . even though in the Reformation period it was seen as a profound antithesis of ultimate and decisive force. By this we mean the confrontation between the formulas ‘by faith alone,’ on the one hand, and ‘faith, hope, and love,’ on the other.

"We may follow Cardinal Willebrand and say: ‘In Luther’s sense the word ‘faith’ by no means intends to exclude either works or love or even hope. We may quite justly say that Luther’s concept of faith, if we take it in its fullest sense, surely means nothing other than what we in the Catholic Church term love’ (1970, at the General Assembly of the World Lutheran Federation in Evian).

If we take all this to heart, we may say the following: If we translate from one language to another, then Protestant talk about justification through faith corresponds to Catholic talk about justification through grace; and on the other hand, Protestant doctrine understands substantially under the one word ‘faith’ what Catholic doctrine (following 1 Cor. 13:13) sums up in the triad of ‘faith, hope, and love.’ But in this case the mutual rejections in this question can be viewed as no longer applicable today

"According to [Lutheran] Protestant interpretation, the faith that clings unconditionally to God’s promise in Word and Sacrament is sufficient for righteousness before God, so that the renewal of the human being, without which there can be no faith, does not in itself make any contribution to justification. Catholic doctrine knows itself to be at one with the Protestant concern in emphasizing that the renewal of the human being does not ‘contribute’ to justification, and is certainly not a contribution to which he could make any appeal before God. Nevertheless it feels compelled to stress the renewal of the human being through justifying grace, for the sake of acknowledging God’s newly creating power; although this renewal in faith, hope, and love is certainly nothing but a response to God’s unfathomable grace. Only if we observe this distinction can we say

“In addition to concluding that canons 9 and 12 of the Decree on Justification did not apply to modern Protestants, the document also concluded that canons 1-13, 16, 24, and 32 do not apply to modern Protestants (or at least modern Lutherans).”

The document referenced by Mr Akin is:
by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church

Hope this helps with establishing a more official view of your question.

God Bless

Keep the Faith


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