12 June 2015

Positive Propositional Content in Trent's Decree on Original Sin

Every now and then, I take some time to return to the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, and savor the clarity and dignity of their canons.  This week I am reading through all the decrees of Trent, including the decrees on reform, the numerous postponements, the relocation to Bologna on account of plague, etc.  But it occurred to me that the Canons of Trent are, like most canons, stated negatively.  Even though there are propositions of faith included in them directly, because they are anathemas designed to define the limits of Catholic profession, one has to dig into them a little to get the truths they affirm.  So, in the post below, I have begun a simple project, which is to enumerate the positive propositional content of the decrees of Trent, beginning with the Decree on Original Sin, promulgated at the Fifth Session, on 17 June 1546.  The canons themselves can be found here.  I will merely list the noteworthy implications of each canon.


Canon I
  1. The first man is named, and referred to as "Adam".
  2. The first man was constituted in a state of holiness and justice.
  3. The first man violated the commandment of God.
  4. By his offense, the first man incurred the wrath of God.
  5. By his offense, the first man became subject to death.
  6. By his offense, the first man became captive, under the power of the Devil.
  7. By his offense, the first man was changed for the worse in his whole being, both body and soul.

Canon II
  1. The transgression of Adam injured his posterity, which is the whole human race (with exceptions noted in Canon VI).
  2. By his sin, the first man lost holiness and justice for us as well.
  3. By his sin, he has transfused death to the human race.
  4. By his sin, he has transfused the pains of the body to the human race.
  5. By his sin, he has transfused sin, the death of the soul, to the human race.

Canon III
  1. The sin of Adam is transfused into all men (with exceptions noted in Canon VI).
  2. Original sin is transfused by propagation, not by imitation.
  3. Original sin is present in each person as his own sin.
  4. Original sin is not taken away by the powers of human nature.
  5. Original sin is not removed by any remedy other than the merit of Jesus Christ.
  6. Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God in his own blood.
  7. The merit of Jesus Christ is applied to adults and infants through the Sacrament of Baptism.

Canon IV
  1. Newborn infants, and especially those born to baptized parents, are to be baptized.
  2. Newborn infants have original sin from Adam.
  3. Newborn infants need the water of baptism to cleanse them of original sin, in order to obtain everlasting life.
  4. Newborn infants are truly baptized for the remission of sins.

Canon V
  1. The guilt of original sin is remitted in Baptism.
  2. The remission of guilt in Baptism is by the grace of Jesus Christ.
  3. Everything which has the true and proper nature of sin is taken away in Baptism.
  4. Baptism effects a real removal of sin, not merely a removal of its imputation.
  5. At Baptism there is nothing in the baptized to impede their entrance into heaven.
  6. Concupiscence, the foment of sin, remains in the Baptized after Baptism.
  7. Concupiscence does not have the full nature of sin, but merely inclines the baptized to sin.
  8. Concupiscence cannot injure the baptized except by their consent.

Canon VI
  1. The Council does not include the Blessed Virgin Mary in the descriptions of original sin in the above.
  2. The Council renews the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV on the topic.