The Roman Catechism: The Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests

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The Council of Trent commissioned the first Church-wide catechism, finished in The Council dealt with the growing concern in the Church over the Protestant Reformation, and recognized the need for a document to teach the basics of the Catholic faith. The first English translation of the catechism was completed in He attended St. He graduated in and began practicing law, publishing two legal textbooks.

In , Hunter converted to Catholicism, following his two sisters into the church.


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This book contains the decrees, canons, and bulls in English which are organized by the 25 sessions. ISBN: Waterworth London: Dolman, Online text. Bull of the Convocation more Pope Paul III. Decree Concerning Justification more Decree Concerning Original Sin more Decree Concerning The Canonical Scriptures more Decree Concerning the Opening of the Council more Decree Concerning the Prorogation of the Session more Decree Concerning the Sacraments more Decree Concerning the Symbol of Faith more Decree Concerning the Translation of the Council more For example, in the entire introductory treatment of sacraments— definition, institution, constituent parts, number and effects — no explicit reference is made to Protestant positions.

The text does not take shape primarily as refutation even in a section where one might 76 Ibid. Clarkson, 29 most expect it. The second is that, since the Sacraments have been established by the God of infinite mercy for the common salvation of all, the people should make pious and religious use of them, and be so inflamed with the desire of Christian perfection as to deem it a very great loss to be for any time deprived of the salutary use, particularly of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. One can also note how the Catechism handles the issues of indulgences and purgatory, which were addressed by the Council in their twenty-fifth session December The Catechism makes no mention whatsoever of indulgences and Purgatory is treated only tangentially.

But Purgatory receives no direct exposition. Regardless, it is clear that the Catechism is not slavishly tied to the interests or tone of the Council. Callan and John A. This is further demonstrable in other evidence concerning the context of deliberations that sought an instrument for ensuring orthodoxy and refuting heresy.

This impulse seems to have been moderated during the Council itself, for it is in this period that the actual decree of the Council put such weight upon the sacraments and other opportunities for religious instruction. Ferdinand I, who pressured the imperial legates for a confessional, litmus-test document, had already been pursuing this impulse outside the context of the Council of Trent.

Canisius envisioned a trilogy: an Enchiridion for clergy, a Summa theologica for theology students and a basic text for use in schools.

English Translations

Clarkson, 32 What the story of Ferdinand and Canisius highlights is the tension between a catechism as religious instruction and a catechism as a confessional document. On the Protestant side, the Heidelberg Catechism was developed as just such a confessional document for the unification of Lutheran and Reformed Christians by command of Frederick the Elector, ruler of the Palatinate. Deliberations over the Catechism are not the only expression of the confessional impulse that is evident at the Council of Trent. In the reform decree of the twenty-fifth session the Council prescribed an oath of fidelity.

Wherefore, the holy council commands patriarchs, primates, archbishops, bishops, and all others who by right or custom ought to be present at the provincial synod [decreed in session 24, reform decree ch. The same shall in the future be observed by all who are promoted to patriarchal, primatial, archiepiscopal and episcopal sees, in the first provincial synod at which they are present. Another way of exploring this issue is to look at the tension between universality and particularity in the production and subsequent history of the Catechism.

Of the numerous catechisms in circulation toward the end of the Council many reflected particular needs and contexts, not least of which was the defense of doctrines under attack by Protestants. In short, no. While the Catechism was indeed widely translated into vernacular languages, other catechisms continued to be developed that were both smaller and more adapted to particular needs. The Catechism of the Council of Trent and the Council itself figured into the existing catechetical efforts of such Jesuits as Edmund Auger and Robert Bellarmine as they continued to develop catechetical tools for mission within the Continent.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent also entered into a growing catechetical milieu associated with missions to the New World. One 88 Ibid.


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Clarkson, 34 of the most direct impacts of the Catechism would be upon the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru where the Third Council of Lima ordered the formation of a catechism in question and answer format based upon the Catechism of the Council of Trent. The tension between universality and particularity extends to Vatican I and beyond. In May Vatican I nominally accepted the schema De parvo catechismo. At the present time…great inconvenience has arisen from the large number of shorter catechisms circulating in different provinces and even in different dioceses of the same province.

We propose therefore with the approval of the Council to 92 Ibid. Vatican I never returned to De parvo catechismo to adopt its final form as a full constitution of the council.

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Clarkson, 35 have a new catechism in Latin drawn up which everyone must use so that the diversity of shorter catechisms can in the future be eliminated. Although more research appears warranted, one can recognize that the old categories cannot fully grasp the complexity of catechesis and catechisms in the worldwide Catholicism of the late sixteenth century and later. The question then becomes one of scope.

How far do those deficiencies reach? The first thing that becomes evident is that we cannot merely accept the Catechism as an appendage of the Council of Trent. Already, the old categories break down. The Catechism stands amid two tensions: the tension between universality and particularity and the tension between confessionalization and religious pedagogy. Could the suspension of this framework open up renewed interest and new understandings of the Council itself? Clarkson, 37 toward confessionalization.

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But particularity, too, can contribute to confessionalization as in the case of catechisms written for apologetic purposes or to refute heresies in a particular context. Nevertheless, what matters most in the present analysis is clear; the old categories are inadequate for such an investigative task. Clarkson, 38 Bibliography Bireley, Robert. Bossy, John.

Christianity in the West, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Bowden, John, ed. Encyclopedia of Christianity. Bradley, Robert I. Callan, Charles J. New York: Wagner, Catholic Church. Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent. Translated and introduced by Henry Joseph Schroeder. Rockford, IL: Tan Books, Catholic Church.

Catechism of the Council of Trent : The Roman Catechism (, Hardcover) for sale online | eBay

Translated and introduced by John A. Comerford, Kathleen M. Pabel, eds. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Delumeau, Jean. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P, Halsall, Paul, ed. The World of Catholic Renewal, New approaches to European history, Jedin, Hubert. Geschichte des Konzils von Trient, 4 vols. Freiburg: Herder, Katholische Reformation oder Gegenreformation? Lucerne: Josef Stocker, Leto, Pomponio. London: John Murray, Marra, Ann Marie.