Teachings of a Sacred Council

Are all teachings of a sacred council irreverseable?

Such as:

The Council of Trent declared that only the priest could give himself Holy Communion and, likewise to the faithful.

No. The Church makes disciplinary rules for the good running of Mass and ministry from time to time. These are binding, but they are subject to change as circumstances change. One obvious change was that Protestants, who had been invited to Trent, refused to attend. The invitation was repeated at Vatican II, and this time it was accepted. That created a whole new situation, in which it was reasonable to offer what compromises could be made, for instance in the role of the laity, as long as they didn’t actually contradict the teachings of the Church.

By analogy, a school makes rules for wearing uniforms, forms of address to teachers, hours that pupils must attend, and so on. It also teaches subjects like calculus and Latin and chemistry. The nature of hydrochoric acid and sodium hydroxide won’t change. The age at which pupils are allowed to mix them together to make salt might vary.

Only the teachings that decree a matter of faith or morals to be held by all the faithful. Disciplinary practices such as the distribution of Holy Cokmunion can be modified as the Church sees fit, even though in my honest opinion- was wrong to be modified after 1970 to allow lay persons to distribute Holy Communion during the Mass.

Also, the priest who celebrates Mass must self communicate, that cannot ever be changed. Even the concelebrant priests muse self communicate as well.

The [edited by Moderator] thing, with lay people distributing Holy Communion however has become so blown out of proportion it is pitiful and sad. I remember when they changed it here in the US in the 1970’s. Communion in the hand and “Eucharistic Ministers” as they are wrongly called came out at the same time. They told us, at my former parish, that these two changes were to “Have the lay people become more involved with the liturgy as decreed by Vatican II” and also, “To express the priesthood of the layity”. (This is because up until then all Catholics were taught it was sacreligious for anyone’s hands, except those consecrated hands of a priest, to touch the Sacred Host.) [The hands of a priest are consecrated specifically for the purpose of touching the Sacred Host - that is why in the TLM his hand is kissed whenever he is handed something or receives something]


Anything disciplinary can change. Dogma will never change.
Deacon Ed B

The definitive dogmatic declarations are irreformable, but canon law, liturgical law, policy decisions, etc. are not irreformable–these can be changed to meet the needs of the time. Most Councils are a mix of both.

Councils can teach either infallibly or non-infallibly. Most Councils have put their infallible solemn definitions in Canons, i.e. clearly-delineated lists of dogmas. Vatican II chose not to do that, so there is some dispute about whether any of its decrees are infallible. Apart from solemn definitions, Councils teach non-infallibly.

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