« PoprzedniaDalej »
Determination to close the Council-Debates on the sacrament of
orders, and on the divine right of episcopacy and of residenceArrival of the cardinal of Lorraine, and the French prelates-their views and intentions-Fears of the papal party- Miscellaneous historical notices-Frequent prorogations of the session-TWENTY-THIRD SESSION—Decree on the sacrament of orders-View of the spiritual and temporal power of the Pope-Decree of reformation.
The Pope had resolved to bring the council to a speedy termination, and thus deliver himself from the vexations and alarms which agitated him during its continuance. To accomplish his purpose he spared no promises, well knowing that it would be very easy to put insuperable difficulties in the way of their performance. But at length the dispatches received from the legates convinced him that nothing short of a bona fide concession would be satisfactory.15 He wrote to them to this effect:—that he was willing to consent to all just and necessary amendments that a committee might be appointed to examine the memorials which had been presented at various times by the ambassadors, and select such articles as were most important—that if the question of episcopal residence could not be decided without a violent contest, it would be better to procure it to be referred to himself—and that for the rest, he
15 By the French ambassad irs it had been demanded that doctrine and discipline should be discussed on alternate days, to avoid the indecent haste with which the latter had been commonly treated. The Imperial ambassadors required the presentation of the memorial which they had placed in the hands of the legates long before. Drascovitch proposed that the votes should be taken by nations, an expedient which would have utterly destroyed the Pope's Italian majority.
placed the fullest confidence in the judgment and prudence of the legates, and gave them permission to act according to circumstances. They were well acquainted with the pontiff's real views and wishes, and took care not to thwart them. The business of reformation was committed to Simonetta, who, with the assistance of Boncompagno, Paleotti and others, undertook to prepare such a decree as might at the same time please the Pope and satisfy the oft-repeated demands of the States of Europe. - This arrangement was secretly made, and the self-appointed committee pursued its labours unknown to the council till the time came for the production of the decree. Thus the fathers were saved the trouble of investigation; the wounds of corruption were gently opened, and speedily closed again; all they had to do was to receive and apply such remedies as were brought ready prepared to their hands. 10
The sacraments of orders and of matrimony were appointed for decision at the next session. In order to facilitate and expedite the business, the divines were arranged in six classes, to each of which a specific portion of the discussion was allotted. To the first three classes the sacrament of orders was assigned, and the sacrament of matrimony to the remainder. Injunctions were issued, prohibiting any one from speaking more than half an hour at a time; but very few observed them.
Seven articles, said to contain the opinions of the Protestants on the subject of orders were committed to the divines for examination. Two or three extracts from the speeches delivered in the course of the discussions will summarily comprise the prevailing sentiments.
Alphonso Salmeron, the Jesuit, affirmed that Christ instituted the sacrament of orders when he appointed his apostles to the priesthood, as declared in the last session. The power then bestowed chiefly related to the consecration of his real body. Another power, that of jurisdiction over his mystical body, the church, was imparted, when he breathed on them and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost," &c. (John xx. 23;) this power was connected with the impression of a charac
16 Pallav. I. xviii. c. 11.
ter, in which respect the sacrament of orders resembles those of baptism and confirmation. Further, when the Saviour led the apostles out and blessed them, (Luke xxiv. 50.) he constituted thern bishops, sending them to preach the gospel. These and similar sentiments, equally foreign to the true meaning of Scripture, he confirmed by the authority of the Apostolical Constitutions (a well known apocryphal work,) and various traditions and councils.
Peter Soto spoke of the hierarchy. He maintained that in the government of the church, which is vested in the priesthood, there is a regular gradation, as in the angelic host, and that bishops, priests, and other ininisters, are the rulers of the spiritual community, ordinary Christians being entirely excluded; although he admit. ted that the latter have in certain cases the right of election, which had been denied by the preceding speak. er. In opposition to the Protestants, he asserted that so far from the office of priests being confined to preaching the gospel, that duty rather belongs to bishops, accord. ing to the saying of the apostle. “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel."
Melchior Cornelio vindicated the use of unction and other ceremonies used in ordination. He also endeavoured to prove that bishops are superior to priests, and that the episcopacy is an order of peculiar dignity, prin. cipally because confirmation and ordination are conferred by them only.17
The debates that arosc on the last article (relating to the superiority of bishops to priests) excited a dispute that more than ever distracted and divided the council. When this subject was discussed in 1552, the question proposed was, “Whether bishops are superior to pres. byters by divine right," and Crescentio, while he con. ceded the affirmative, had contrived to evade its effects, and would have succeeded, had he not been detected and exposed. 18 The present legates had resolved to avoid if possible the revival of the controversy, chiefly on account of its connexion with the dispute respecting
17 Pallav. l. xviii. c. 12. Sarpi, I. vii. s. 7–9. Le Plat, v. p. 508-516.
18 See p. 209.
residence, which they intended should be quietly reserred to the Pope. With these views they erased from the article the words "jure divino," "by divine right," hoping that the subject would not be introduced. But they were mistaken. The Spaniards resolutely refused to be silent. A furious contest was the result, which, though the issue was favourable to the papal interests, necessarily prolonged the council much beyond the tiine which had been fixed for its continuance.
When the deliberations of the divines were ended, a committee was appointed to prepare the decree and canons, copies of which were soon distributed among the fathers. In examining them the prelates were unusually critical, even to fastidiousness. At the close of the discussion, the archbishop of Granada remarked that there was a great defect in the decree, inasmuch as the declaration of the divine right of episcopal superiority was wanting. Such a declaration, he said, had been prepared and agreed to in 1552, as some who were then present could testify. In a long and studied address he laboured to defend his sentiments. The legate Osius interrupted the archbishop, and said that this was a point on which there was no dispute with the heretics, and therefore such a declaration as he demanded was totally unnecessary; even the confession of Augsburg did not deny the divine right of bishops, but only that those who were consecrated with Rornish rites were not true prelates. “If it is confessed by the heretics themselves,” replied the archbishop, "why should we hesitate to affirm it ?" The legate still persisted that this was needless, evidently wishing to evade the question altogether. But this was impracticable; the assertion respecting the confession of Augsburg was shown to be incorrect, 19 and the archbishop and his friends persevered in their demand, greatly to the annoyance of the legates.
A contentious debate followed, and continued several
19 The Augsburg confession has no reference whatever to the point debated at Trent : the divine right of bishops or pastors is indeed mentioned; but it is the right to preach the word, administerthe sacraments, and exercise discipline. The Wirtemburg confession expressly asserts the equality of bishops and presbyters, on the allthority of Jerome. Corpus et Syntagma, p. 43-47. 120.
days. Each party put forth its full strength, and the importance of the question was universally felt and acknowledged. Should the divine right be declared, it was perceived that the consequences would be eininently disastrous to the power and pretensions of the papacy. The bishops would immediately assert their entire independence of the Pope, a fruitful source of revenue and influence would be entirely destroyed, and the court of Rome would sink into comparative insignificance.These considerations greatly alarmed the legates, and induced them to employ all the force of intrigue to procure the rejection of the disputed clause.20 At length a division took place, in which one hundred and eightyone votes were given. Fifty-four prelates voted for the divine right, and the number would have been greater had not many been restrained by the fear of incurring the displeasure of their patrons, the legates, or the Pope.21 But although the majority sided with the legates, they knew how it was obtained, and felt that it would be unsafe to treat their opponents with disrespect, since among them were found a large proportion of the most learned and influential prelates then at Trent. It was at least good policy to seek conciliation and agreement, even though the attempt failed of success. With this object an addition was made to the committee, who took immense pains to frame the decree in such a manner as might meet the views of both parties. Various
20 The Jesuit Lainez was employed to refute the advocates of the divine right. The historians have preserved a very full report of his speech. It contains the most extravagant assertions of pontifical power and authority. Lainez maintained that Jesus Christ is sole ruler of his church; that when he left the world he constituted Peter and his successors as his vicars; that in consequence the Pope is absolute Lord and Master, supreme and infallible; that bishops derive from him their power and jurisdiction, and that in fact there is no power whatever in the church but from him, so that even general councils have no authority, are not infallible, do not enjoy the influonce of the Holy Spirit, unless they are summoned and controlled by papal authority! Pallav. l. xviii. s. 15. Sarpi, l. vii. 8. 20.Le Plat, v. p. 524.
21 It seems that many abstained from voting at all, for fear of giving offonce. D'Andrada says that there were more than two hundred and thirty present when the question of communion in both kinds was discussed, and the number gradually increased till it reached nearly three hundred. Defensio Trident. Fidei, 1. i. p. 26.