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Decree of the Council of Trent


Summary of

“Touching the Necessity, Authority, Office of Pastors in the Church,

and the Principal Heads of the Christian Doctrine”




Q:1       faith is essential to a knowledge of Christ


Q:2       pastors are essential to the quickening of faith, to acquainting people with “a certain and

direct path to the happiness of heaven”


Q:3       without pastors (teachers) Christians will readily be blown off course


Q:4       the presence of the pastor is the mode of the presence of Jesus Christ; the pastor’s

word is the word of Christ


Q:5       more recently and more specifically, pastors are need to spare Christians the spiritual

disaster of Protestantism


Q:6       the Protestant Reformers have written “voluminous works” [e.g., Calvin’s Institutes,

Melanchthon’s Loci Communes, Luther’s Works] whose heresy is open, blatant, and therefore

less dangerous than their smaller works [confessions, catechisms, pamphlets, letters,

occasional pieces] whose heresy is hidden, subtle, and therefore much more dangerous


Q:7       Trent must address this problem


Q:8       there is needed a practical means of ensuring the transmission of the Catholic faith


Q:9       it is recognized that few parish priests are extraordinarily gifted theologically, and

therefore something besides a learned tome is need to help these men


Q:10     both faith and obedience are to be enjoined, love being the goal of the gospel and the

fulfillment of the law, which faith/obedience/love add up to utter, self-forgetful

self-abandonment to God


Q:11     while the “two ends” of faith and obedience are ever to be kept in view, the pastoral

ministry must accommodate itself to the spiritual condition of the parishioner


Q:12     all necessary doctrines are contained in the Word of God, Scripture and Tradition


the four “heads” of Creed, Sacraments, Ten Commandments and Lord’s Prayer provide

the framework for orienting oneself to the gospel, for understanding scripture, and for

remembering the substance of the faith

(Note: the seven sacraments are baptism, eucharist, penance, confirmation, marriage,

extreme unction, ordination)


Q:13     the four “heads” will ensure that the substance of the biblical text will not be overlooked

in any pastor’s exegesis/sermon