THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
Session XVI - The sixth and last under the Supreme Pontiff, Julius III, celebrated on the twenty-eighth day of April, 1552
Decree Suspending The Council
The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the most reverent Lords, Sebastian, Archbishop of Sipontum, and Aloysius, Bishop of Verona, Apostolic nuncios, presiding in their own names as well as in that of the most reverend and illustrious Lord, the legate Marcellus Crescentius, Cardinal of the holy Roman Church with the title of St. Marcellus, who is absent by reason of a very grave illness, doubts not that it is known to all Christians that this ecumenical Council of Trent was first convoked and assembled by Paul, of happy memory. Afterward at the instance of the most august Emperor, Charles V, reconvened by our most holy Lord Julius III, chiefly for the reason that it might restore religion, which was deplorably divided into various opinions in many parts of the world, especially in Germany, to its former state, and correct the abuses and most corrupt morals of the Christians. And since very many Fathers from different countries, regardless of personal hardships and dangers, had for this purpose willingly assembled, and the business progressed earnestly and happily in the midst of a great concourse of the faithful, and there was great hope that those Germans who had inaugurated those innovations would come to the council so disposed as to accept unanimously the true foundations of the Church, some light seemed at last to have dawned upon affairs, and the Christian commonwealth, before so depressed and afflicted, began to lift up its head. Then suddenly such tumults and wars were enkindled by the craftiness of the enemy of the human race, that the council was at much inconvenience compelled to pause as it were and to interrupt its course, so that all hope for further progress at that time was dissipated; and so far was the council from remedying the evils and troubles existing among the Christians, that, contrary to its intentions, it irritated rather than calmed the minds of many. Since, therefore, the holy council saw that all places, and especially Germany, were ablaze with arms and discords, that almost all the German bishops, especially the electoral princes, solicitous for their churches, had withdrawn from the council, it decided not to resist so great a necessity and to await better times, so that the Fathers who now could achieve nothing might return to their churches to take care of their sheep and no longer spend their time in useless inactivity. Hence, since the conditions of the times so require, it decrees that the progress of this ecumenical Council of Trent shall be suspended for two years, as it does suspend it by the present decree; with this understanding, however, that if peace is brought about sooner and the former tranquillity restored, which it trusts will, with the help of the all-good and great God, come about soon, the progress of the council shall be regarded as resumed from that time and as having its full validity, stability and authority. But if, which may God prevent the aforesaid lawful impediments shall at the expiration of the time specified not have been removed, the suspension shall immediately upon their removal thereafter be considered <eo ipso> revoked, and the council shall be and shall be understood to be restored to its full power and authority without any new convocation thereof, provided the consent and authority of His Holiness and of the Apostolic See has been given to this decree.
In the meantime, however, this holy council exhorts all Christian princes and prelates to observe, and so far as it pertains to them, to cause to be observed in their kingdoms, dominions and churches each and all the things which have so far been ordained and decreed by this holy ecumenical council.
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