THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
Session XXI - The fifth under the Supreme Pontiff, Pius IV, celebrated on the sixteenth day of July, 1562

Index

The Doctrine of Communion Under Both Kinds and the Communion of Little Children
Canons on Communion Under Both Species and That of Little Children
Decree Concerning Reform
Announcement of the Next Session
Notes


The Doctrine Of Communion Under Both Kinds And The Communion Of Little Children

The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, has thought fit that, since relative to the awe-inspiring and most holy sacrament of the Eucharist various monstrous errors are in different places circulated by the wiles of the evil spirit, by reason of which, in some provinces, many are seen to have fallen away from the faith and obedience of the Catholic Church, those things which relate to communion under both forms and to that of little children be explained in this place. Wherefore, it forbids all the faithful of Christ to presume henceforth to believe, teach or preach on these matters otherwise than is explained and defined in these decrees.

CHAPTER I
LAYMEN AND CLERICS WHEN NOT OFFERING THE SACRIFICE ARE NOT BOUND BY DIVINE LAW TO COMMUNION UNDER BOTH SPECIES

This holy council instructed by the Holy Ghost, who is the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and godliness,[1] and following the judgment and custom of the Church,[2] declares and teaches that laymen and clerics when not offering the sacrifice are bound by no divine precept to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist under both forms, and that there can be no doubt at all, <salva fide>, that communion under either form is sufficient for them to salvation. For though Christ the Lord at the last supper instituted and delivered to the Apostles this venerable sacrament under the forms of bread and wine,[3] yet that institution and administration do not signify that all the faithful are by an enactment of the Lord to receive under both forms. Neither is it rightly inferred from that discourse contained in the sixth chapter of John that communion under both forms was enjoined by the Lord, notwithstanding the various interpretations of it by the holy Fathers and Doctors. For He who said: <Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you>,[4] also said: <He that eateth this bread shall live forever>;[5] and He who said: <He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath life everlasting,>[6] also said: <The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world>;[7] and lastly, He who said: <He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me and I in him>,[8] said, nevertheless: <He that eateth this bread shall live forever.>[9]

CHAPTER II
THE POWER OF THE CHURCH CONCERNING THE DISPENSATION OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST

It declares furthermore, that in the dispensation of the sacraments, <salva illorum substantia>, the Church may, according to circumstances, times and places, determine or change whatever she may judge most expedient for the benefit of those receiving them or for the veneration of the sacraments; and this power has always been hers. The Apostle seems to have clearly intimated this when he said: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God;[10] and that he himself exercised this power, as in many other things so in this sacrament, is sufficiently manifest, for after having given some instructions regarding its use, he says: <The rest I will set in order when I come.>[11] Wherefore, though from the beginning of the Christian religion the use of both forms has not been infrequent, yet since that custom has been already very widely changed, holy mother Church, cognizant of her authority in the administration of the sacraments, has, induced by just and weighty reasons, approved this custom of communicating under either species and has decreed that it be considered the law, which may not be repudiated or changed at pleasure without the authority of the Church.

CHAPTER III
CHRIST, WHOLE AND ENTIRE, AND A TRUE SACRAMENT ARE RECEIVED UNDER EITHER SPECIES

It declares, moreover, that though our Redeemer at the last supper instituted and administered this sacrament to the Apostles under two forms, as has already been said, yet it must be acknowledged that Christ, whole and entire, and a true sacrament are received under either form alone,[12] and therefore, as regards its fruits, those who receive one species only are not deprived of any grace necessary to salvation.

CHAPTER IV
LITTLE CHILDREN ARE NOT BOUND TO SACRAMENTAL COMMUNION

Finally, the same holy council teaches that little children who have not attained the use of reason are not by any necessity bound to the sacramental communion of the Eucharist; for having been regenerated by the laver of baptism and thereby incorporated with Christ,[13] they cannot at that age lose the grace of the sons of God already acquired. Antiquity is not therefore to be condemned, however, if in some places it at one time observed that custom. For just as those most holy Fathers had acceptable ground for what they did under the circumstances, so it is certainly to be accepted without controversy that they regarded it as not necessary to salvation.


Canons On Communion Under Both Species And That Of Little Children

Canon 1. If anyone says that each and all the faithful of Christ are by a precept of God or by the necessity of salvation bound to receive both species of the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist,[14] let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone says that the holy Catholic Church was not moved by just causes and reasons that laymen and clerics when not consecrating should communicate under the form of bread only,[15] or has erred in this, let him be anathema.

Canon 3. If anyone denies that Christ, the fountain and author of all graces, is received whole and entire under the one species of bread, because, as some falsely assert, He is not received in accordance with the institution of Christ under both species,[16] let him be anathema.

Canon 4. If anyone says that communion of the Eucharist is necessary for little children before they have attained the years of discretion,[17] let him be anathema.

The two articles proposed on another occasion but not yet discussed,[18] namely, whether the reasons which moved the holy Catholic Church to decree that laymen and priests not celebrating are to communicate under the one species of bread only, are so stringent that under no circumstances is the use of the chalice to be permitted to anyone; and whether, in case it appears advisable and consonant with Christian charity that the use of the chalice be conceded to a person, nation or kingdom, it is to be conceded under certain conditions, and what are those conditions, the same holy council reserves for examination and definition to another time, at the earliest opportunity that shall present itself.


Decree Concerning Reform

The same holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, has judged it proper, to the praise of Almighty God and to the glory of holy Church, that what follows, relative to the matter of reform, be at present enacted.

CHAPTER I
BISHOPS SHALL CONFER ORDERS AND GIVE DIMISSORY AND TESTIMONIAL LETTERS GRATIS; THEIR MINISTERS SHALL RECEIVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THEREFOR AND NOTARIES THAT WHICH IS PRESCRIBED IN THIS DECREE

Since the ecclesiastical order must be free from every suspicion of avarice, neither bishops nor others who confer orders, or their ministers, shall under any pretext whatever receive anything for the collation of any orders, not even for the clerical tonsure, or for dimissory or testimonial letters, or for the seal or for any other reason whatsoever, even though it should be offered voluntarily. Notaries, except in those places only where the laudable custom of receiving nothing does not prevail, may receive only the tenth part of a gold florin for each dimissory or testimonial letter, provided no salary is paid them for the discharge of the office. Further, no emolument from the income of the notary shall accrue either directly or indirectly to the bishop from the collation of orders, for in that case the council decrees that they are bound to give their labor wholly gratis; annulling and prohibiting absolutely in all localities taxes, statutes and customs to the contrary, even though immemorial, which might preferably be called abuses and corruptions tending to simoniacal depravity. Those who act otherwise givers as well as receivers, shall, apart from the divine punishment incur <ipso facto> the penalties prescribed by law.[19]

CHAPTER II
THOSE WHO HAVE NOT THE MEANS OF LIVELIHOOD ARE TO BE EXCLUDED FROM SACRED ORDERS

Since it is not becoming that those who are enrolled in the sacred ministry should, to the dishonor of the order, beg or engage in some improper business; and since it is known that very many in different localities are admitted to sacred orders with almost no selection, who by various methods of fraud and deception pretend to have an ecclesiastical benefice or sufficient means, the holy council decrees that henceforth no secular cleric, though otherwise qualified as regards morals, knowledge and age, shall be promoted to sacred orders unless it be first legitimately established that he is in peaceful possession of an ecclesiastical benefice sufficient for a decent livelihood; and he may not resign that benefice without mentioning the fact that he was promoted by reason of the title thereof; neither shall that resignation be accepted unless it is certain that he can live suitably from other sources; a resignation made otherwise shall be void.

As to those who have a patrimony or pension, only those may hereafter be ordained whom the bishop judges ought to be received in consideration of the need or benefit of his churches, having first informed himself that they really possess that patrimony or pension and that there are means sufficient for their subsistence. The same, moreover, may not under any condition be alienated, canceled or remitted without the permission of the bishop, until they have obtained a sufficient ecclesiastical benefice or have some other means whereby to live; the penalties of the ancient canons in respect hereto being renewed.[20]

CHAPTER III
THE MANNER OF INCREASING THE DAILY DISTRIBUTIONS IS PRESCRIBED; TO WHOM THEY SHALL BE DUE; THE CONTUMACY OF THOSE WHO DO NOT SERVE IS PUNISHED

Since benefices have been established for divine worship and for administering the ecclesiastical offices, to the end that divine worship may not be in any part curtailed, but may in all things receive due attention,[21] the holy council decrees that in churches, cathedral as well as collegiate, in which there are no daily distributions, or so meager that they are probably disregarded, a third part of the fruits and of all proceeds and revenues of dignities with and without jurisdiction as well as of canonries, portions and offices, shall be set apart and used for daily distributions, to be divided proportionately among those who possess dignities and others who are present at divine service in accordance with the proportion to be decided by the bishop, also as delegate of the Apostolic See, at the first distribution of the fruits;[22] with the retention, however, of the customs of those churches in which those who do not reside therein or do not serve receive nothing or less than a third; exemptions and other customs, even though immemorial, and appeals whatsoever notwithstanding. In case the contumacy of those who do not serve should increase, they may be proceeded against according to the provision of the law and the sacred canons.[23]

CHAPTER IV
WHEN ASSISTANTS ARE TO BE EMPLOYED IN THE <CURA ANIMARUM>. THE MANNER OF ERECTING NEW PARISHES IS SPECIFIED

In all parochial or baptismal churches in which the people are so numerous that one rector does not suffice to attend to the administration of the sacraments of the Church and divine worship, the bishops shall, also as delegates of the Apostolic See, compel the rectors, or those to whom It pertains, to associate with themselves in this office as many priests as are necessary to administer the sacraments and carry on divine worship. In those, moreover, to which, by reason of distance and hardship, the parishioners cannot come without great inconvenience to receive the sacraments and hear the divine offices, they may, even against the will of the rectors, establish new parishes, pursuant to the form of the constitution of Alexander III, which begins, "Ad audientiam."[24] To those priests who are first to be appointed to the newly erected churches, a suitable portion, decided by the bishop, shall be assigned from the fruits in whatever way belonging to the mother-church, and if it be necessary, he may compel the people to contribute what may be sufficient for the sustenance of those priests; every general or special reservation or attachment respecting the aforesaid churches notwithstanding. Neither can such ordinances and erections be invalidated or hindered by any provisions, even by virtue of resignation or by any other restrictions or hindrances.

CHAPTER V
BISHOPS MAY FORM PERPETUAL UNIONS IN CASES PERMITTED BY LAW

Likewise, in order that the state of the churches in which the divine services are offered to God may be maintained in accordance with their dignity, the bishops may, also as delegates of the Apostolic See, according to the prescription of the law, form perpetual unions,[25] without detriment, however, to the incumbents, of any parochial and baptismal churches and of other benefices with or without the <cura> with those to which a <cura> is annexed, by reason of their poverty or in other cases permitted by law, even if those churches or benefices be generally or specially reserved or in any way attached. These unions shall not be revoked or suppressed by virtue of any provision whatever or by reason of resignation, restriction or hindrance.

CHAPTER VI
TO ILLITERATE RECTORS VICARS SHALL BE GIVEN WITH THE ASSIGNMENT OF A PORTION OF THE FRUITS; THOSE CONTINUING TO GIVE SCANDAL MAY BE DEPRIVED OF THEIR BENEFICES

Since illiterate and incompetent rectors of parochial churches are but little suited for sacred of offices,[26] and others by the depravity of their lives corrupt rather than edify, the bishops may, also as delegates of the Apostolic See, give temporarily to such illiterate and incompetent rectors, if otherwise blameless, assistants or vicars, with a portion of the fruits sufficient for their maintenance or provide for them in some other manner, every appeal and exemption being set aside. But those who live a disgraceful and scandalous life, they shall, after admonishing them, restrain and punish; and if they should continue to be incorrigible in their wickedness, they shall have the authority to deprive them of their benefices in accordance with the prescriptions of the sacred canons,[27] every exemption and appeal being rejected.

CHAPTER VII
BISHOPS SHALL TRANSFER BENEFICES FROM CHURCHES WHICH CANNOT BE RESTORED; OTHERS THEY SHALL HAVE REPAIRED; WHAT IS TO BE OBSERVED IN THIS MATTER

Since great care is to be taken also lest those things which have been dedicated to sacred services may through the injury of time decay and pass away from the memory of men, the bishops may, also as delegates of the Apostolic See, after having summoned those who are interested, transfer simple benefices, even those having the right of patronage, from churches which have fallen into ruin by reason of age or otherwise and which cannot by reason of their poverty be restored, to the mother-churches or to others of the same or neighboring places as they shall judge suitable; and in these churches they shall erect altars or chapels under the same invocations, or transfer them with all the emoluments and obligations imposed on the former churches to altars or chapels already erected. Parochial churches, however, thus fallen into decay, they shall, even if they enjoy the right of patronage, have repaired and restored from the fruits and revenues in any way belonging to those churches.[28] If these are not sufficient, they shall compel by all suitable means the patrons and others who receive any revenues from the said churches, or, in their default, the parishioners, to provide for the repairs; every appeal, exemption and objection being set aside. But if they should all be too poor, then they are to be transferred to the mother-church or neighboring churches, with authority to convert both the said parochial churches and others that are in ruins to profane, though not to sordid uses, nevertheless erecting a cross there.

CHAPTER VIII
MONASTERIES HELD <IN COMMENDAM> IN WHICH REGULAR OBSERVANCE DOES NOT EXIST, AS WELL AS ALL BENEFICES SHALL BE VISITED BY THE BISHOPS ANNUALLY

It is proper that all things in a diocese pertaining to the worship of God be diligently watched over by the ordinary and, where necessary, set in order by him. Wherefore, monasteries held <in commendam>, also abbeys, priories and those called provostries, in which regular observance does not exist, also benefices with or without the <cura>, secular and regular, in whatever manner held <in commendam,> even if exempt shall be visited annually by the bishops, also as delegates of the Apostolic See;[29] and the same bishops shall provide by suitable measures, even by the sequestration of revenues, that whatever needs to be renewed or repaired, be done, and that the care of souls, if those places or those annexed to them be charged therewith, and other services due to them be properly exercised; appeals, privileges, customs, even though prescribed from time immemorial, conservators, commissions of judges and their inhibitions notwithstanding. But if regular observance is therein maintained, the bishops shall by fatherly admonitions see to it that the superiors of those regulars observe and cause to be observed the manner of life required by the rules of their order and that they keep and govern those subject to them in their duty. If however, after having been admonished, they shall not within six months have visited or corrected them, then the bishops, also as delegates of the Apostolic See, may visit and correct them, just as the superiors themselves should do in accordance with their rules; all appeals, privileges and exemptions being absolutely set aside.

CHAPTER IX
THE NAME AND SERVICES OF QUESTORS OF ALMS IS ABOLISHED. THE ORDINARIES SHALL PUBLISH INDULGENCES AND SPIRITUAL GRACES. TWO OF THE CHAPTER SHALL WITHOUT FEE RECEIVE THE ALMS

Since many remedies heretofore applied by different councils, those of the Lateran[30] and Lyons as well as that of Vienne,[31] against the pernicious abuses of questors of alms,[32] have in later times become useless, and since their depravity is, to the great scandal and complaint of the faithful, found to be daily so much on the increase that there seems to be no longer any hope of their amendment left, it is decreed that in all parts of Christendom their name and service be henceforth absolutely abolished and in no wise shall they be permitted to exercise such an office; any privileges granted to churches, monasteries, hospitals, pious places, and to any persons of whatever rank, state and dignity, or any customs, even though immemorial, notwithstanding. With regard to indulgences or other spiritual graces of which the faithful of Christ ought not on this account to be deprived, it is decreed that they are in the future to be announced to the people at suitable times by the local ordinaries aided by two members of the chapter. To these also the authority is given to collect faithfully and without fee the alms and charitable contributions offered them, so that all may understand that these heavenly treasures of the Church are administered not for gain but for piety.


Announcement Of The Next Session

The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, has ordained and decreed that the next following session be held and celebrated on the Thursday after the octave of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which will be on the seventeenth of the month of September next; with the addition, however, that the same holy council freely may and can, according to its will and pleasure, as it shall judge expedient for the affairs of the council, limit or extend, even in a general congregation, the said term and also everyone that is hereafter set for any session.


Notes

1 Is. 11:2.

2 Council of Constance. Sess. XIII (Denzinger, no. 626); cf. infra,> can. 2.

3 Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19 f.; I Cor. 11:24f.

4 John 6:54.

5 Ibid., 6:52.

6 Ibid., 6:55.

7 Ibid., 6:52.

8 Ibid., 6:57.

9 Ibid., 6:59.

10 See I Cor. 4:1.

11 Ibid., 11:34.

12 Cf. Sess. XIII, chap. 3 and can. 3.

13 Tit. 3:5.

14 Cf. <supra>, chap. I.

15 Ibid., chap. 2

16 Ibid., chap. 3; Sess. XIII, chap. 3 and can. 3.

17 <Supra>, chap. 4

18 Cf. pp. 85 f.

19 Cc. 6, 8, 101, 107, 113, C.I, q.l; c. 14, C.II, q. 5; cc. 4, 5, 11, 13, 30, X, De simonia, V, 3, etc.

20 CC, 2, 4, 16, 23, X, De praeb., III, 5; c. 37, h.t. in VI, III, 4.

21 C 15, VI, De rescript, I, 3.

22 Cf. Sess. XXII, chap. 3 de ref. and Sess. XXIV, chap. 12 de ref.

23 Cc. 16, 17, X, De cler. non resid., III, 4; Sess. XXIII, chap. I de ref.

24 C. 3, X, De eccl. aedif., III, 48.

25 C. 8, X, De excess. prael., V, 31; Sess. XIV, chap. 9 de ref. and Sess. XXIV, chap. de ref.

26 C. I, D.XXXVI; c. I, D.XXXVIII; c. 10, X, De renunc., I, 9.

27 CC, 13-15, X, De vit. et hon. cler., III, I.

28 CC. 1, 4, X, De eccl. aedif., III, 48. Cf. Sess. VII, chap. 8 de ref.

29 Cf. Sess. VII, chap. 8 de ref.; Sess. XXIV, chap. 9 de ref. and Sess. XXV, chap. 20 de regular.

30 C, 14, X, De poenit., V, 38.

31 C. 2, in Clem., h.t. V, 9.

32 Cf. Sess. V, chap. 2 de ref. and Sess. XXV, Decree on Indulgences.


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