The Council of Trent  


Being the eighth under the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IV., celebrated on the eleventh day of November, MDLXIII.

The first parent of the human race, under the influence of the divine Spirit, pronounced the bond of matrimony perpetual and indissoluble, when he said; This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. But, that by this bond two only are united and joined together, our Lord taught more plainly, when rehearsing those last words as having been uttered by God, He said, therefore now they are not two, but one flesh; and straightway confirmed the firmness of that tie, proclaimed so long before by Adam, by these words; What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. But, the grace which might perfect that natural love, and confirm that indissoluble union, and sanctify the married, Christ Himself, the institutor and perfecter of the venerable sacraments, merited for us by His passion; as the Apostle Paul intimates, saying: Husbands love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it; adding shortly after, This is a great sacrament, but I speak in Christ and in the Church.

Whereas therefore matrimony, in the evangelical law, excels in grace, through Christ, the ancient marriages; with reason have our holy Fathers, the Councils, and the tradition of the universal Church, always taught, that it is to be numbered amongst the sacraments of the new law; against which, impious men of this age raging, have not only had false notions touching this venerable sacrament, but, introducing according to their wont, under the pretext of the Gospel, a carnal liberty, they have by word and writing asserted, not without great injury to the faithful of Christ, many things alien from the sentiment of the Catholic Church, and from the usage approved of since the times of the apostles; the holy and universal Synod wishing to meet the rashness of these men, has thought it proper, lest their pernicious contagion may draw more after it, that the more remarkable heresies and errors of the above-named schismatics be exterminated, by decreeing against the said heretics and their errors the following anathemas.


CANON I.-If any one saith, that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelic law, (a sacrament) instituted by Christ the Lord; but that it has been invented by men in the Church; and that it does not confer grace; let him be anathema.

CANON II.-If any one saith, that it is lawful for Christians to have several wives at the same time, and that this is not prohibited by any divine law; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that those degrees only of consanguinity and affinity, which are set down in Leviticus, can hinder matrimony from being contracted, and dissolve it when contracted; and that the Church cannot dispense in some of those degrees, or establish that others may hinder and dissolve it ; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that the Church could not establish impediments dissolving marriage; or that she has erred in establishing them; let him be anathema.

CANON V.-If any one saith, that on account of heresy, or irksome cohabitation, or the affected absence of one of the parties, the bond of matrimony may be dissolved; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.-If any one saith, that matrimony contracted, but not consummated, is not dissolved by the solemn profession of religion by one of the married parties; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.-If any one saith, that the Church has erred, in that she hath taught, and doth teach, in accordance with the evangelical and apostolical doctrine, that the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on account of the adultery of one of the married parties; and that both, or even the innocent one who gave not occasion to the adultery, cannot contract another marriage, during the life-time of the other; and, that he is guilty of adultery, who, having put away the adulteress, shall take another wife, as also she, who, having put away the adulterer, shall take another husband; let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.-If any one saith, that the Church errs, in that she declares that, for many causes, a separation may take place between husband and wife, in regard of bed, or in regard of cohabitation, for a determinate or for an indeterminate period; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that clerics constituted in sacred orders, or Regulars, who have solemnly professed chastity, are able to contract marriage, and that being contracted it is valid, notwithstanding the ecclesiastical law, or vow; and that the contrary is no thing else than to condemn marriage; and, that all who do not feel that they have the gift of chastity, even though they have made a vow thereof, may contract marriage; let him be anathema: seeing that God refuses not that gift to those who ask for it rightly, neither does He suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able.

CANON X.-If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that the prohibition of the solemnization of marriages at certain times of the year, is a tyrannical superstition, derived from the superstition of the heathen; or, condemn the benedictions and other ceremonies which the Church makes use of therein; let him be anathema.

CANON XII.-If any one saith, that matrimonial causes do not belong to ecclesiastical judges; let him be anathema.



The same sacred and holy Synod, prosecuting the subject of Reformation, ordains that the things following be established in the present Session.


The manner of proceeding to the creation of Bishops and Cardinals.

If, as regards all manner of degrees in the Church, a provident and enlightened care is to be taken, that in the house of the Lord there be nothing disorderly, nothing unseemly; much more ought we to strive that no error be committed in the election of him who is constituted above all those degrees. For the state and order of the whole household of the Lord will totter, if what is required in the body be not found in the head. For which cause, although the holy Synod has elsewhere usefully ordained certain things touching those who are to be promoted to cathedral and superior churches, yet doth it account this office to be of such a nature, as that were it to be pondered upon in proportion to its greatness, there would never seem to have been caution enough taken. Wherefore It ordains, that, as soon as a church shall become vacant, processions, and prayers shall be made in public and private; and such shall be enjoined, by the Chapter, throughout the city and diocese; that thereby both clergy and people may be enabled to obtain from God a good pastor.

And as regards all and each of those who have, in any way, any right from the Apostolic See, or who otherwise have a part, in the promotion of those to be set over the churches; the holy Synod,-without making any change herein, from a consideration of the circumstances of the present time,-exhorts and admonishes them, that they above all things bear in mind that they cannot do anything more conducive to the glory of God, and the salvation of the people, than to study to promote good pastors, and such as are capable of governing a church; and that they sin mortally, becoming partakers in others' sins, unless they carefully endeavour that those be promoted whom they themselves judge the most worthy of, and useful to, the church, not guided by entreaties, or human affection, or the solicitations of pretenders, but by what the merits of the individuals require at their hands; and seeing that they be persons whom they know to have been born in lawful wedlock, and who, by their life, learning, and in all other qualifications, are such as are required by the sacred canons, and by the decrees of this Synod of Trent.

And forasmuch as, by reason of the diversity of nations, peoples, and customs, a uniform system cannot be followed everywhere, in receiving the grave and competent testimony of good and learned men on the subject of the aforesaid qualifications, the holy Synod ordains, that, in a provincial Synod, to be held by the metropolitan, there shall be prescribed for each place and province a proper form of examination, scrutiny, or information, such as shall seem to be most useful and suitable for the said places, which form is to be submitted to the approval of the most holy Roman Pontiff; yet so, however, that, after that this examination, or scrutiny, as regards the persons to be promoted, shall have been completed, it shall, after being reduced into the form of a public document, be necessarily transmitted, as soon as possible, with all the attestations and with the profession of faith made by the individual to be promoted, to the most holy Roman Pontiff, in order that the said Sovereign Pontiff, having a full knowledge of the whole matter and of the persons, may, for the advantage of the Lord's flock, in a most useful manner provide those churches therewith, if they shall have been found, by the examination or scrutiny, suitable persons.

And all the scrutinies, informations, attestations, and proofs of whatsoever kind, and by whomsoever made, even though in the Roman court, touching the qualifications of the person to be promoted, shall be carefully examined by a cardinal-who shall report thereon to the consistory-aided therein by three other cardinals; and the said report shall be authenticated by the signature of the cardinal who drew up the report, and of the three other cardinals; and therein each of the four cardinals shall make affirmation that, after giving exact attention thereto, he has found the persons to be promoted, endowed with the qualifications required by law, and by this holy Synod, and that, at the peril of his eternal salvation, he doth certainly think them fit to be placed over the churches: in such wise that, after the report has been made in one consistory, the sentence shall be deferred until another consistory, in order that the said inquiry may be more maturely looked into in the mean time,-unless the most blessed Pontiff shall judge it expedient to act otherwise.

And the Synod ordains, that all and singular the particulars which have been elsewhere ordained, in the same Synod, touching the life, age, learning, and the other qualifications of those who are to be appointed bishops, the same are also to be required in the creation of cardinals-even though they be deacons -of the holy Roman Church; whom the most holy Roman Pontiff shall, as far as it can be conveniently done, select out of all the nations of Christendom, as he shall find persons suitable.

Finally, the same holy Synod, moved by the so many most grievous afflictions of the Church, cannot avoid recording, that nothing is more necessary for the Church of God than that the most blessed Roman Pontiff apply especially here that solicitude, which, by the duty of his office, he owes to the Universal Church,-that he take unto himself, to wit as cardinals, persons the most select only, and that he appoint over each church, above all things, good and fit pastors; and this the more, for that our Lord Jesus Christ will require at his hands the blood of those sheep of Christ which shall perish through the evil government of pastors who are negligent, and forgetful of their office.


A Provincial Synod to be celebrated every third year, a Diocesan Synod every year: who are to convoke, and who to be present thereat.

Provincial councils, wheresoever they have been omitted, shall be renewed, for the regulating of morals, the correcting of excesses, the composing of controversies, and for the other purposes allowed of by the sacred canons. Therefore, the metropolitans in person, or if they be lawfully hindered, the oldest suffragan bishop shall not fail to assemble a Synod, each in his own province, within a year at latest from the termination of the present council, and afterwards, at least every third year, either after the octave of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, or at some other more convenient time, according to the custom of the province; at which council all the bishops and others, who, by right or custom, ought to be present thereat, shall be absolutely bound to assemble, those excepted who would have to cross the sea at their imminent peril. The bishops of the province shall not, for the future, be compelled, under the pretext of any custom whatsoever, to repair against their will to the metropolitan church. Those bishops likewise who are not subject to any archbishop, shall once for all make choice of some neighbouring metropolitan, at whose provincial Synod they shall be bound to be present with the other bishops, and shall observe, and cause to be observed, whatsoever shall be therein ordained. In all other respects, their exemption and privileges shall remain whole and entire.

Diocesan Synods also shall be celebrated every year; to which all those even who are exempted, but who would otherwise, that exemption ceasing, have to attend, and who are not subject to general Chapters, shall be bound to come; understanding however that, on account of parochial, or other Secular churches, even though annexed, those who have charge thereof must needs, whosoever they may be, be present at the said Synod. But if any, whether metropolitans, or bishops, or the others above-named, shall be negligent in these matters, they shall incur the penalties enacted by the sacred canons.


In what manner Prelates are to make their visitation.

Patriarchs, primates, metropolitans, and bishops shall not fail to visit their respective dioceses, either personally, or, if they be lawfully hindered, by their Vicar-general, or visitor; if they shall not be able on account of its extent, to make the visitation of the whole annually, they shall visit at least the greater part thereof, so that the whole shall be completed in two years, either by themselves, or by their visitors. Metropolitans, however, even after having made a complete visitation of their own proper diocese, shall not visit the cathedral churches, or the dioceses of the bishops of their province, except for a cause taken cognizance and approved of in the provincial Council.

But archdeacons, deans, and other inferiors, who have been hitherto accustomed lawfully to exercise (the power of) visitation in certain churches, shall henceforth visit those same places, but by themselves only, with the consent of the bishop, and assisted by a notary. The visitors also who may be deputed by a Chapter, where the Chapter has the right of visitation, shall be first approved of by the bishop; but the bishop, or, if he be hindered, his visitor, shall not thereby be prevented from visiting those same churches apart from those deputies; and the said archdeacons, and other inferiors, shall be bound to give the bishop an account, within a month, of the visitation that has been made, and to show him the depositions of witnesses, and the proceedings in their entire form; any custom, even though immemorial, and any exemptions and privileges whatsoever notwithstanding.

But the principle object of all these visitations shall be to lead to sound and orthodox doctrine, by banishing heresies; to maintain good morals, and to correct such as are evil; to animate the people, by exhortations and admonitions, to religion, peacefulness, and innocence; and to establish such other things as to the prudence of the visitors shall seem for the profit of the faithful, according as time, place and opportunity shall allow. And to the end that all this may have a more easy and prosperous issue, all and each of the aforesaid, to whom the right of visitation belongs, are admonished to treat all persons with fatherly love and Christian zeal; and with this view being content with a modest train of servants and horses, they shall endeavour to complete the said visitation as speedily as possible, though with due carefulness. And during it they shall be careful not to be troublesome or burthensome to any one by any useless expenses; and neither they, nor any of theirs, shall, by way of agency fee for the visitation, or, on account of wills made for pious uses-except that which is of right due to them out of pious bequests-or under any other name whatsoever, receive anything, be it money, or present, of whatsoever kind, or in whatsoever way offered; any custom, even though immemorial, to the contrary notwithstanding; with the exception, however, of food, which shall be furnished frugally and in moderation to them and theirs, only during the time necessary for the visitation, and no longer. It shall, however, be at the option of those who are visited, to pay, if they prefer it, in money, according to a fixed assessment, what they have been accustomed heretofore to disburse, or to furnish the food as aforesaid; saving also the right of ancient conventions entered into with monasteries, or other pious places, or churches not parochial, which right shall remain inviolate. But, in those places or provinces, where it is the custom that neither food, money, nor anything else be received by the visitors, but that all be done gratuitously, the same shall be retained there.

But if any one, which God forbid, shall presume to receive anything more than is prescribed in any of the cases above-named; besides the restitution of double the amount which is to be made within a month, he shall also be subjected, without any hope of pardon, to the other penalties contained in the constitution of the general Councils of Lyons, which begins, Exigit; as also to the other penalties (which shall be enacted) in the provincial Synod, at the discretion of that Synod.

As regards patrons, they shall not presume in any way to interfere in those things which regard the administration of the sacraments; neither shall they meddle with the visitation of the ornaments of the church, or its revenues arising from landed property, or from buildings, excepting so far as they are competent to do this by the institution, or foundation; but the bishops themselves shall attend to these things, and shall take care that the revenues of those buildings be expended upon purposes necessary and useful for the church, as to them shall seem most expedient.


By whom, and when, the office of preaching is to be discharged: the Parish Church to be frequented in order to hear the word of God. No one shall preach in opposition to the will of the Bishop.

The holy Synod, desirous that the office of preaching, which peculiarly belongs to bishops, may be exercised as frequently as possible, for the welfare of the faithful, and accommodating more aptly to the use of the present times, the canons elsewhere set forth on this subject, under Paul III., of happy memory, ordains, that the bishops shall themselves in person, each in his own church, announce the sacred Scriptures and the devine law, or if lawfully hindered, it shall be done by those whom they shall appoint to the office of preaching; and in the other churches by the parish priests, or, if they be hindered, by others to be deputed by the bishop, whether it be in the city, or in any other part whatsoever of the diocese wherein they shall judge such preaching expedient, at the charge of those who are bound, or who are accustomed, to defray it, and this at least on all Lord's Days and solemn festivals; but, during the season of the fasts, of Lent and of the Advent of the Lord, daily, or at least on three days in the week, if the said bishop shall deem it needful; and, at other times, as often as they shall judge that it can be opportunely done. And the bishop shall diligently admonish the people, that each one is bound to be present at his own parish church, where it can be conveniently done, to hear the word of God. But no one, whether Secular or Regular, shall presume to preach, even in churches of his own order, in opposition to the will of the bishop.

The said bishops shall also take care, that, at least on the Lord's Days and other festivals, the children in every parish be carefully taught the rudiments of the faith, and obedience towards God and their parents, by those whose duty it is, and who shall be constrained thereunto by their bishops, if need be, even by ecclesiastical censures; any privileges and customs notwithstanding. In other respects, those things decreed, under the said Paul III., concerning the office of preaching, shall have their full force.


In criminal causes against Bishops, the greater causes shall be taken cognizance of by the Sovereign Pontiff only, the less by the Provincial Council.

The more grave criminal causes against bishops, even of heresy-which may God forfend-which merit deposition or deprivation, shall be taken cognizance of and decided by the Sovereign Roman Pontiff himself only. But if the cause shall be of such a nature that it must necessarily be committed out of the Roman Court, it shall not be committed to any others soever, but metropolitans, or bishops, to be chosen by the most blessed Pope. And this commission shall both be special, and shall be signed by the most holy Pontiff's own hand; nor shall he ever grant more to those commissioners than this,-that they take information only of the fact, and draw up the process, which they shall immediately transmit to the Roman Pontiff; the definitive sentence being reserved to the said most holy Pontiff.

The other things hereupon elsewhere decreed, under Julius III., of happy memory, as also the constitution published in a general Council under Innocent III., which begins, Qualiter et quando, which constitution the holy Synod renews in this present decree, shall be observed by all.

But the less criminal causes of bishops shall be taken cognizance of and decided in the provincial Council only, or by persons deputed thereunto by the provincial Council.


When and how the Bishop may absolve from crime, and dispense in cases of irregularity and suspension.

It shall be lawful for the bishop to dispense in all manner of irregularities and suspensions, arising from a crime that is secret,-except that proceeding from wilful homicide, and those crimes which have been already carried before a legal tribunal; -and (it shall be lawful for them), in their own diocese, either by themselves, or by a vicar to be deputed especially for that purpose, to absolve gratuitously, as far as the tribunal of the conscience is concerned, after imposing a salutary penance, all delinquents whatsoever their subjects, in all cases whatsoever that are secret, even though reserved to the Apostolic See. The same also, as regards the crime of heresy, shall be permitted them in the said court of conscience, but to them only, and not to their vicars.


The virtue of the Sacraments shall, before being administered to the people, be explained by Bishops and Parish Priests; during the solemnization of mass, the sacred oracles shall be explained.

In order that the faithful people may approach to the reception of the sacraments with greater reverence and devotion of mind, the holy Synod enjoins on all bishops, that, not only when they are themselves about to administer them to the people, they shall first explain, in a manner suited to the capacity of those who receive them, the efficacy and use of those sacraments, but shall endeavour that the same be done piously and prudently by every parish priest; and this even in the vernacular tongue, if need be, and it can be conveniently done; and in accordance with the form which will be prescribed for each of the sacraments, by the holy Synod, in a catechism which the bishops shall take care to have faithfully translated into the vulgar tongue, and to have expounded to the people by all parish priests; as also that, during the solemnization of mass, or the celebration of the divine offices, they explain, in the said vulgar tongue, on all festivals, or solemnities, the sacred oracles, and the maxims of salvation; and that, setting aside all unprofitable questions, they endeavour to impress them on the hearts of all, and to instruct them in the law of the Lord.


On public sinners, a public penance shall be imposed, unless the Bishop shall determine otherwise: a Penitentiary to be instituted in Cathedral Churches.

The apostle admonishes that those who sin publicly are to be reproved openly. When, therefore, any one has, publicly and in the sight of many, committed a crime, whereby there is no doubt that others have been offended and scandalized; there must needs be publicly imposed upon him a penance suitable to the measure of his guilt; that so those whom he has allured to evil manners by his example, he may bring back to an upright life by the testimony of his amendment. The bishop, however, may, when he judges it more expedient, commute this kind of public penance into one that is secret. Likewise, in all cathedral churches, where it can be conveniently done, the bishop shall appoint a penitentiary, annexing thereto the prebend that shall next become vacant, which penitentiary shall be a master, or doctor, or licentiate in theology, or in canon law, and forty years of age, or otherwise one who shall be found more suitable considering the character of the place; and, whilst hearing confessions in the church, he shall be meanwhile reputed as present in choir.


By whom Secular Churches, not of any diocese, are to be visited.

Those things which have elsewhere been established by this same Council, under Paul III., of happy memory, and lately under our most blessed lord Pius IV., touching the diligence to be used by the Ordinaries in visiting benefices, even though exempted, the same shall also be observed in regard of those Secular churches which are said to be in no one's diocese; to wit they shall be visited by the bishop-as the delegate of the Apostolic See-whose cathedral church is the nearest, if he be able to do so; otherwise, by him whom the prelate of the said place has once for all selected in the provincial Council;-any privileges and customs whatsoever, even though immemorial, to the contrary notwithstanding.


Where visitation and correction of morals are concerned, no suspension of decrees is allowed.

Bishops, that they may be the better able to keep the people whom they rule in duty and obedience, shall, in all those things which regard visitation and correction of manners, have the right and power, even as delegates of the Apostolic See, of ordaining, regulating, correcting, and executing, in accordance with the enactments of the canons, those things which, in their prudence, shall seem to them necessary for the amendment of their subjects, and for the good of their respective dioceses. Nor herein, when visitation and correction of manners are concerned, shall any exemption, or any inhibition, or appeal, or complaint, even though interposed to the Apostolic See, in any way hinder, or suspend the execution of those things which shall have been by them enjoined, decreed, or adjudged.


Honorary titles, or particular privileges, shall not derogate in any way from the right of bishops.

Forasmuch as the privileges and exemptions which, under various titles, are granted to very many persons, are clearly seen to raise, in these days, confusion in the jurisdiction of bishops, and to give occasion to those exempted to lead a more relaxed life; the holy Synod ordains, that if at any time it be thought proper, for just, weighty, and well nigh compulsory causes, that certain persons be distinguished by the honorary titles of Protonotary, Acolyte, Count Palatine, Royal Chaplain, or other such titles of distinction, whether in the Roman court or elsewhere; as also that others be admitted into monasteries as Oblates, or as attached thereunto in some other way, or under the name of servants to military orders, monasteries, hospitals, colleges, or under any other title whatsoever; nothing is to be understood as being, by these privileges, taken away from the Ordinaries, so as to prevent those persons, unto whom those privileges have already been granted, or to whom they may be hereafter conceded, from being fully subject in all things to the said Ordinaries, as delegates of the Apostolic See, and this as regards Royal Chaplains, in accordance with the constitution of Innocent III., which begins Cum capella: those persons, however, being excepted, who are engaged in actual service in the aforesaid places, or in military orders, and who reside within their enclosures and houses, and live under obedience to them; as also those who have made their profession lawfully and according to the rules of the said military orders, whereof the Ordinary must be certified: notwithstanding any privileges what soever, even those of the order of Saint John of Jerusalem, and of other military orders. But, as regards those privileges which by virtue of the constitution of Eugenius, those are accustomed to enjoy who reside in the Roman Court, or who are in the household of cardinals, such privileges shall in no wise be understood to apply to those who hold ecclesiastical benefices, in so far as those benefices are concerned; but such shall continue subject to the jurisdiction of the Ordinary; any inhibitions to the contrary notwithstanding.


What manner of persons those ought to be who are to be promoted to the dignities and canonries of Cathedral Churches: and what those so promoted are bound to perform.

Whereas dignities, especially in cathedral churches, were established to preserve and increase ecclesiastical discipline, with the view that those who should obtain them, might be pre-eminent in piety, be an example to others, and aid the bishop by their exertions and services; it is but right, that those who are called unto those dignities, should be such as to be able to answer the purposes of their office. Wherefore, no one shall henceforth be promoted to any dignities whatsoever, to which the cure of souls is attached, who has not attained at least to the twenty-fifth year of his age, and, having been exercised for some time in the clerical order, is recommended by the learning necessary for the discharge of his office, and by integrity of morals, conformably to the constitution of Alexander III., promulgated in the Council of Lateran, which begins, Cum in cunctis.

In like manner archdeacons, who are called the eyes of the bishop, shall, in all churches, where it is possible, be masters in theology, or doctors or licentiates in canon law. But, to the other dignities or personates, to which no cure of souls is attached, clerics shall be promoted, who are in other respects qualified, and who are not less than twenty-two years of age. Those also who are promoted to any benefices whatsoever having cure of souls, shall, within two months at the latest from the day of obtaining possession, be bound to make a public profession of their orthodox faith in the presence of the bishop himself, or, if he be hindered, before his Vicar-general, or official; and shall promise and swear, that they will continue in obedience to the Roman Church. But those who are promoted to canonries and dignities in cathedral churches, shall be bound to do this not only before the bishop, or his official, but also in the Chapter; otherwise all those promoted as aforesaid shall not render the fruits theirs; nor shall possession avail them anything. No one shall henceforth be received to a dignity, canonry, or portion, but one who has either already been admitted to that sacred order which that dignity, prebend, or portion requires, or is of such an age as to be capable of being admitted to that order, within the time prescribed by law and by this holy Synod.

As regards all cathedral churches, all canonries and portions shall be attached to the order of the priesthood, deaconship, or subdeaconship; and the bishop, with the advice of the Chapter, shall designate and apportion, as he shall judge expedient, to which thereof each of those respective sacred orders is for the future to be annexed; in such wise, however, that one half at least shall be priests, and the rest deacons, or subdeacons: but where the more praiseworthy custom requires, that the greater part, or that all be priests, it shall be by all means retained. Moreover, the holy Synod exhorts that, in provinces where it can conveniently be done, all the dignities, and one half at least of the canonries, in cathedral and eminent collegiate churches, be conferred only on masters, or doctors, or even on licentiates in theology, or canon law. Furthermore, it shall not be lawful, by virtue of any manner of statute or custom whatsoever, for those who possess, in the said cathedral or collegiate churches, any dignities, canonries, prebends, or portions, to be absent from those churches, above three months in each year-saving, however, the constitutions of those churches which require a longer term of service-otherwise every offender shall, for the first year, be deprived of onehalf of the fruits which he has made his own by reason even of his prebend and residence.

But, if he be again guilty of the same negligence, he shall be deprived of all the fruits which he may have acquired during that same year: and, the contumacy increasing, they shall be proceeded against according to the constitutions of the sacred canons. As regards the distributions; those who have been present at the stated hours shall receive them; all others shall, all collusion and remission set aside, forfeit them, pursuant to the decree of Boniface VIII., which begins, Consuetudinem, which the holy Synod brings again into use; any statutes, or customs, whatsoever, to the contrary notwithstanding. And all shall be obliged to perform the divine offices in person, and not by substitutes; as also to attend on and serve the bishop when celebrating (mass), or performing any other pontifical functions; and reverently, distinctly, and devoutly to praise the name of God, in hymns and canticles, in the choir appointed for psalmody.

They shall, moreover, at all times wear a becoming dress, both in and out of church; shall abstain from unlawful hunting, hawking, dancing, taverns, and gaines; and be distinguished for such integrity of manners, as that they may with justice be called the senate of the Church. As to other matters, regarding the suitable manner of conducting the divine offices, the proper way of singing or chanting therein, the specific regulations for assembling in choir and for remaining there, as also such things as may be necessary in regard of all those who minister in the church, and any other things of the like kind; the provincial Synod shall prescribe a fixed form on each Head, having regard to the utility and habits of each province. But, in the mean time, the bishop, assisted by not less than two canons, one of whom shall be chosen by the bishop, and the other by the Chapter, shall have power to provide herein as may be judged expedient.


In what manner provision is to be made for the more slightly endowed Cathedral and Parish Churches: Parishes are to be distinguished by certain boundaries.

Forasmuch as very many cathedral churches have so slight a revenue, and are so small, that they by no means correspond with the episcopal dignity, nor suffice for the necessities of the churches; the provincial Council, having summoned those whose interests are concerned, shall examine and weigh with care, what churches it may be expedient, on account of their small extent, and their poverty, to unite to others in the neighbourhood, or to augment with fresh revenues; and shall send the documents prepared in regard thereof to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff; who, being thereby made acquainted with the matter, shall, of his own prudence, as he may judge expedient, either unite together the slightly provided churches, or improve them by some augmentation derived from the fruits. But in the meantime, until the things aforesaid are carried into effect, the Sovereign Pontiff may provide, out of certain benefices, for those bishops who, on account of the poverty of their dioceses, stand in need of being aided by certain fruits; provided however those benefices be not cures, nor dignities, canonries, prebends, nor monasteries wherein regular observance is in force, or which are subject to general Chapters, or to certain visitors.

In parish churches also, the fruits of which are in like manner so slight that they are not sufficient to meet the necessary charges, the bishop,-if unable to provide for the exigency by a union of benefices, not however those belonging to Regulars,-shall make it his care, that, by the assignment of first fruits, or tithes, or by the contributions and collections of the parishioners, or in some other way that shall seem to him more suitable, as much be amassed as may decently suffice for the necessities of the rector and of the parish.

But in whatsoever unions may have to be made, whether for the causes aforesaid, or for others, parish churches shall not be united to any monasteries whatever, or abbeys, or dignities, or prebends of a cathedral or collegiate church, or to any other simple benefices, hospitals, or military orders; and those so united shall be again taken cognizance of by the Ordinaries, pursuant to the decree already made in this same Synod, under Paul III., of happy memory, which shall also be equally observed in regard of those unions that have been made from that time forth to the present; notwithstanding whatsoever form of words may have been used therein, which shall be accounted as being sufficiently expressed here.

Furthermore, all those cathedral churches, the revenue of which, in real annual value, does not exceed the sum of one thousand ducats, and those parish churches where it does not exceed the sum of one hundred ducats, shall not for the future be burthened with any manner of pensions, or reservations of fruits. Also, in those cities and places where the parish churches have not any certain boundaries, neither have the rectors thereof their own proper people to govern, but administer the sacraments to all indiscriminately who desire them, the holy Synod enjoins on bishops, that for the greater security of the salvation of the souls committed to their charge, having divided the people into fixed and proper parishes, they shall assign to each parish its own perpetual and peculiar parish priest who may know his own parishioners, and from whom alone they may licitly receive the sacraments; or the bishops shall make such other provision as may be more beneficial, according as the character of the place may require. They shall also take care, that the same be done, as soon as possible, in those cities and places where there are no parish churches: any privileges aind customs, even though immemorial, to the contrary notwithstanding.


In promotions to benefices, or in admissions into possession of the same, any deductions from the fruits, not applied to pious uses, are prohibited.

In many churches, as well cathedral as collegiate and parochial, it is understood to be the practice, derived either from the constitutions thereof, or from an evil custom, that upon any election, presentation, institution, confirmation, collation, or other provision, or upon admission to the possession of any cathedral church, benefice, canonries, or prebends, or to a participation in the revenues, or the daily distributions, there are introduced certain conditions, or deductions from the fruits, certain payments, promises, unlawful compensations, as also the profits which are in some churches called Turnorum lucra; and whereas the holy Synod detests these practices, It enjoins on bishops, that they suffer not anything of the kind to be done, unless the proceeds be converted to pious uses, nor permit any of those modes of entering (on benefices) which carry with them a suspicion of a simoniacal taint, or of sordid avarice; and they shall themselves carefully take cognizance of their constitutions, or customs in the above regards; and, those only being retained which they shall approve of as laudable, the rest they shall reject and abolish as corrupt and scandalous. And It decrees that those, who act in any way contrary to the things comprised in this present decree, incur the penalties set forth against simoniacs by the sacred canons, and divers constitutions of the Sovereign Pontiffs, all of which this Synod renews; any statutes, constitutions, customs, even though immemorial, even though confirmed by apostolic authority, to the contrary notwithstanding; the bishop, as the delegate of the Apostolic See, having power to take cognizance of any surreption, obreption, or defect of intention, in regard thereof.


Method of increasing the slight prebends of Cathedral, and of eminent Collegiate Churches.

In cathedral, and eminent collegiate, churches, where the prebends are numerous, and so small, that, even with the daily distributions, they are not sufficient for the decent maintenance of the rank of the canons, according to the character of the place, and of the persons, it shall be lawful for the bishop, with the consent of the Chapter, either to unite thereunto certain simple benefices, not however such as belong to Regulars, or, if a provision cannot be made in this way, they may reduce those prebends to a less number, by suppressing some of them,-with the consent of the patron, if the right of patronage belong to laymen,-the fruits and proceeds of which shall be applied towards the daily distributions of the remaining prebends; yet so, however, that such a number shall be left as may conveniently serve for the celebration of divine worship, and be suitable to the dignity of the church; any constitutions and privileges whatsoever, or any reservation whether general or special, or any application whatever, to the contrary notwithstanding: nor shall the aforesaid unions or suppressions be set aside or hindered by any manner of provision whatsoever, not even by virtue of any resignation, or by any other derogations, or suspensions whatever.


What duty devolves on the Chapter during the vacancy of a See.

When a See is vacant, the Chapter, in those places where the duty of receiving the fruits devolves upon it, shall appoint one or more faithful and diligent stewards to take care of the property and revenues of the church, of which they shall afterwards give an account to him whom it may regard. It shall also be absolutely bound, within eight days after the decease of the bishop, to appoint an official, or vicar, or to confirm the one who fills that office; who shall at least be a doctor, or a licentiate, of canon law, or otherwise as competent a person as can be procured: if anything be done contrary hereto, the appointment aforesaid shall devolve on the metropolitan. And if the church be itself the metropolitan, or exempted, and the Chapter shall be, as has been said above, negligent, then shall the oldest of the suffragan bishops in that metropolitan church, and the nearest bishop in regard of that church that is exempted, have power to appoint a competent steward and vicar. And the bishop, who is promoted to the said vacant church, shall demand, from the said steward, vicar, and all other officers and administrators, who, during the vacancy of the See, were, by the Chapter, or others, appointed in his room,-even though they should belong to the Chapter itself,-an account of those things which concern him, of their functions, jurisdiction, administration, or of any other their charge whatsoever; and shall have power to punish those who have been guilty of any delinquency in their office or administration, even though the officers aforesaid, having given in their accounts, may have obtained a quittance or discharge from the Chapter, or those deputed thereby. The Chapter shall also be bound to render an account to the said bishop of any papers belonging to the church, if any such have come into the possession thereof.


In what case it is lawful to confer more than one benefice upon one individual; and for him to retain the same.

Whereas ecclesiastical order is perverted when one cleric fills the offices of several, the sacred canons have holily provided that no one ought to be enrolled in two churches. But, seeing that many, through the passion of ungodly covetousness deceiving themselves, not God, are not ashamed to elude, by various artifices, what has been so excellently ordained, and to hold several benefices at the same time; the holy Synod, desiring to restore the discipline required for the government of the church, doth by this present decree,-which It orders to be observed in regard of all persons whatsoever, by whatsoever title distinguished, even though it be by the dignity of the Cardinalate,-ordain, that, for the future, one ecclesiastical benefice only shall be conferred on one and the same person. If indeed that benefice be not sufficient to afford a decent livelihood to the person on whom it is conferred, it shall then be lawful to bestow on him some other simple benefice that may be sufficient; provided that both do not require personal residence.

And the above shall apply not only to cathedral churches, but also to all other benefices whatsoever, whether Secular or Regular, even to those held in commendam, of whatsoever title and quality they may be. But they who at present hold several parochial churches, or one cathedral and one parochial church, shall be absolutely obliged,-all dispensations and unions for life whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding,-retaining one parochial church only, or the cathedral church alone, to resign the other parochial churches within the space of six months; otherwise as well the parish churches, as also all the benefices which they hold, shall be accounted ipso jure void, and as void shall be freely conferred on other competent persons; nor shall they who previously held them be able to retain the fruits thereof, with a safe conscience, after the said time. But the holy Synod desires that a provision be made in some suitable manner, as may seem fit to the Sovereign Pontiff, for the necessities of those who resign.


Upon a Parish Church becoming vacant, a Vicar is to be deputed thereunto by the Bishop, until it be provided with a Parish Priest: in what manner and by whom those nominated to Parochial Churches ought to be examined.

It is most highly expedient for the salvation of souls, that they be governed by worthy and competent parish priests. To the end that this may with greater care and effect be accomplished, the holy Synod ordains, that when a vacancy occurs in a parish church, whether by death, or by resignation, even in the Roman Court, or in any other manner whatsoever, though it may be alleged that the charge thereof devolves on the church (itself), or on the bishop, and though it may be served by one or more priests,-and this not excepting even those churches called patrimonial, or receptive, wherein the bishop has been accustomed to assign the cure of souls to one or more (priests), all of whom, as this Synod ordains, must be subjected to the examination herein prescribed later,-even though, moreover, the said parish church may be reserved, or appropriated, whether generally or specially, by virtue even of an indult, or privilege granted in favour of cardinals of the holy Roman Church, or of certain abbots, or chapters; it shall be the duty of the bishop, at once, upon obtaining information of the vacancy of the church, to appoint, if need be, a competent vicar to the same-with a suitable assignment, at his own discretion, of a portion of the fruits thereof-to support the duties of the said church, until it shall be provided with a rector.

Moreover, the bishop, and he who has the right of patronage, shall, within ten days, or such other term as the bishop shall prescribe, nominate, in the presence of those who shall be deputed as examiners, certain clerics as capable of governing the said church. It shall nevertheless be free for others also, who may know any that are fit for the office, to give in their names, that a diligent scrutiny may be afterwards made as to the age, morals, and sufficiency of each. And even,-if the bishop, or the provincial Synod shall, considering the custom of the country, judge this more expedient,-those who may wish to be examined may be summoned by a public notice. When the time appointed has transpired, all those whose names have been entered shall be examined by the bishop, or, if he be hindered, by his Vicar-general, and by the other examiners, who shall not be fewer than three; to whose votes, if they should be equal, or given to distinct individuals, the bishop, or his vicar, may add theirs, in favour of whomsoever they shall think most fit.

And as regards the examiners, six at least shall be annually proposed by the bishop, or by his vicar, in the diocesan Synod; who shall be such as shall satisfy, and shall be approved of by, the said Synod. And upon any vacancy occurring in any church, the bishop shall select three out of that number to make the examination with him; and afterwards, upon another vacancy following, he shall select, out of the six aforesaid, the same, or three others, whom he may prefer. But the said examiners shall be masters, or doctors, or licentiates in theology, or in canon law, or such other clerics, whether Regulars,-even of the order of mendicants,-or Seculars, as shall seem best adapted thereunto; and they shall all swear on the holy Gospels of God, that they will, setting aside every human affection, faithfully perform their duty. And they shall beware of receiving anything whatever, either before or after, on account of this examination; otherwise, both the receivers and the givers will incur the guilt of simony, from which they shall not be capable of being absolved, until after they have resigned the benefices which they were possessed of in any manner whatsoever, even before this act; and they shall be rendered incapable of any others for the time to come. And in regard of all these matters, they shall be bound to render an account, not only to God, but also, if need be, to the provincial Synod, which shall have power to punish them severely, at Its discretion, if it be ascertained that they have done anything contrary to their duty.

Then, after the examination is completed, a report shall be made of all those who shall have been judged, by the said examiners, fit by age, morals, learning, prudence, and other suitable qualifications, to govern the vacant church; and out of these the bishop shall select him whom he shall judge the most fit of all; and to him, and to none other, shall the church be collated by him unto whom it belongs to collate thereunto. But, if the church be under ecclesiastical patronage, and the institution thereunto belongs to the bishop, and to none else, whomsoever the patron shall judge the most worthy from amongst those who have been approved of by the examiners, him he shall be bound to present to the bishop, that he may receive institution from him: but when the institution is to proceed from any other than the bishop, then the bishop alone shall select the worthiest from amongst the worthy, and him the patron shall present to him unto whom the institution belongs.

But if it be under lay patronage, the individual who shall be presented by the patron, must be examined, as above, by those deputed thereunto, and not be admitted, unless he be found fit. And, in all the above-mentioned cases, to none other but to one of those who have been examined as aforesaid, and have been approved of by the examiners, according to the rule prescribed above, shall the church be committed, nor shall any devolution, or appeal, interposed even before the Apostolic See, or the legates, vice-legates, or nuncios of that see, or before any bishops, or metropolitans, primates, or patriarchs, hinder or suspend the report of the aforesaid examiners from being carried into execution: for the rest, the vicar whom the bishop has, at his own discretion, already deputed for the time being to the vacant church, or whom he may afterwards happen to depute thereunto, shall not be removed from the charge and administration of the said church, until it be provided for, either by the appointment of the vicar himself, or of some other person, who has been approved of and elected as above: and all provisions and institutions made otherwise than according to the above-named form, shall be accounted surreptitious: any exemptions, indults, privileges, preventions, appropriations, new provisions, indults granted to any university whatsoever, even for a certain sum, and any other impediments whatsoever, in opposition to this decree, notwithstanding.

If, however, the said parish churches should possess so slight a revenue, as not to allow of the trouble of all this examination; or should no one seek to undergo this examination; or if, by reason of the open factions, or dissensions, which are met with in some places, more grievous quarrels and tumults may easily be excited thereby; the Ordinary may, omitting this formality, have recourse to a private examination, if, in his conscience, with the advice of the (examiners) deputed, he shall judge this expedient; observing however the other things as prescribed above. It shall also be lawful for the provincial Synod, if It shall judge that there are any particulars which ought to be added to, or retrenched from, the above regulations concerning the form of examination, to provide accordingly.


Mandates 'de providendo,' Expectatives, and other things of the like kind are abrogated.

The holy Synod ordains, that mandates for contingent promotions, and those graces which are called expectant, shall not any more be granted to any one, not even to colleges, universities, senates, or to any individuals whatsoever, even though under the name of an indult, or up to a certain sum, or under any other colourable title; nor shall it be lawful for any one to make use of such as have been heretofore granted. So, neither shall any mental reservations, nor any other graces whatsoever in regard of future vacancies in benefices, nor indults which apply to churches belonging to others, or to monasteries, be granted to any, not even cardinals of the holy Roman Church; and those hitherto granted shall be looked upon as abrogated.


The manner of conducting causes, appertaining to the Ecclesiastical court, is prescribed.

All causes belonging in any way whatever to the ecclesiastical court, even though they may relate to benefices, shall be taken cognizance of, in the first instance, before the Ordinaries of the places only; and shall be completely terminated within two years at the latest from the time that the suit was instituted: otherwise, at the expiration of that period, it shall be free for the parties, or for either of them, to have recourse to superior, but otherwise competent, judges, who shall take up the cause as it shall then stand, and shall take care that it be terminated with all possible despatch; nor, before that period, shall the causes be committed to any others (than the Ordinaries), nor be transferred therefrom; nor shall any appeals interposed by those parties be received by any superior judges whatsoever; nor shall any commission, or inhibition be issued by them, except upon a definitive sentence, or one that has the force thereof, and the grievance arising from which cannot be redressed by an appeal from that definitive sentence. From the above are to be excepted those causes, which, pursuant to the appointments of the canons, are to be tried before the Apostolic See, or those which the Sovereign Roman Pontiff shall, for an urgent and reasonable cause, judge fit to appoint, or to avocate, for his own hearing, by a special rescript under the signature of his Holiness signed with his own hand.

Furthermore, matrimonial and criminal causes shall not be left to the judgment of deans, archdeacons, and other inferiors, even when on their course of visitation, but shall be reserved for the examination and jurisdiction of the bishop only; even though there should be, at this present moment, a suit pending, in whatsoever stage of the proceedings it may be, between any bishop, and the dean, or archdeacon, touching the cognizance of this class of causes: and if, in any said matrimonial cause, one of the parties shall truly prove his property in the presence of the bishop, he shall not be compelled to plead out of the province, either in the second or third stage of the suit, unless the other party will provide for his maintenance, and also bear the expenses of the suit.

Legates also, even though de latere, nuncios, ecclesiastical governors, or others, shall not only not presume, by virtue of any powers whatsoever, to impede bishops in the causes aforesaid, or in any wise to take from them, or to disturb their jurisdiction, but they shall not even proceed against clerics, or other ecclesiastical persons, until the bishop has been first applied to, and has shown himself negligent; otherwise their proceedings and ordinances shall be of no force, and they shall be bound to make satisfaction to the parties for the damages which they have sustained.

Furthermore, should any individual appeal in those cases allowed of by law, or lodge a complaint touching any grievance, or have recourse, as aforesaid, to a judge, on account of two years having elapsed, he shall be bound to transfer, at his own expense, to the judge of appeal, all the acts of the proceedings that have taken place before the bishop, having given, however, notice thereof previously to the said bishop; that so, if it seem fit to him to communicate any information on the suit, he may acquaint the judge of appeal therewith. But if the appellee shall appear, then shall he also be bound to bear his proportion of the costs of transferring those acts, provided that he wishes to make use thereof; unless it be the custom of the place to act otherwise, to wit, that the entire costs have to be borne by the appellant.

Moreover, the notary shall be bound to furnish the appellant, upon payment of the suitable fee, with a copy of the proceedings as soon as may be, and within a month at the furthest. And should that notary be guilty of any fraud in delaying the giving such copy, he shall be suspended from the exercise of his office, at the discretion of the Ordinary, and be condemned to pay double the costs of the suit, which shall be divided between the appellant and the poor of the place. But if the judge also should himself be cognizant of, and an accomplice in, this delay, or if he shall in any other way raise obstacles against the entire proceedings being delivered over to the appellant within the term aforesaid, he shall be subjected to the same penalty of paying double the costs, as above; notwithstanding, as regards all the aforesaid matters, any privileges, indults, covenants, which only bind the authors thereof, and any other customs whatsoever to the contrary.


It is declared, that, by certain words used previously, the usual manner of treating business in General Councils is not changed.

The holy Synod,-being desirous that no occasion of doubting may, at any future period, arise out of the decrees which It has published,-in explanation of the words contained in a decree published in the first Session under our most blessed lord, Pius IV., to wit, "which, the legates and presidents proposing, shall to the said holy Synod appear suitable and proper for assuaging the calamities of these times, terminating the controversies concerning religion, restraining deceitful tongues, correcting the abuses of depraved manners, and procuring for the church a true and Christian peace," declares that it was not Its intention, that, by the foregoing words, the usual manner of treating matters in general Councils should be in any respect changed; or that anything new, besides that which has been heretofore established by the sacred canons, or by the form of general Councils, should be added to, or taken from, any one.


Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod ordains and decrees, that the next ensuing Session be held on the Thursday after the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which will be the ninth day of December next, with the power also of abridging that term. In which Session there will be treated of the sixth chapter which is now deferred till then, and the remaining chapters on Reformation which have been already set forth, and other matters which relate thereunto. And if it shall seem advisable, and the time will allow thereof, certain dogmas may also be treated of, as in their proper season they shall be proposed in the congregations.

The term fixed for the Session was abridged.

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