CHAPTER IV. THE COUNTER-REFORMATION
It was only on the 15th January 1562 the first (17th) public session could be held. There were present in addition to the legates, three patriarchs, eleven archbishops, forty bishops, four generals of religious orders, and four abbots. From the very beginning the legates found themselves in a very difficult position owing to the spirit of hostility against the Holy See manifested by some of the bishops and representatives of the civil powers. At this session very little was accomplished except to announce the formal opening of the council, to fix the date for the next public session, and to prepare safe conducts for the delegates of the Protestant princes. Similarly in the 18th public session (25th February) no decrees of any importance could be passed. Despite the earnest efforts of the presidents it was found impossible to make any progress. Grave differences of opinion manifested themselves both within and without the council. The question whether bishops are bound to reside in their dioceses by divine or ecclesiastical law gave rise to prolonged and angry debates. Spain demanded that it should be stated definitely that the council was only a prolongation of the council held previously at Trent, while France insisted that it should be regarded as a distinct and independent assembly. The Emperor put forward a far-reaching scheme of reform parts of which it was entirely impossible for the legates to accept. At length after many adjournments the 21st public session was held (16th July 1562), in which decrees regarding the Blessed Eucharist were passed. It was defined that there was no divine law obliging the laity to receive Holy Communion under both kinds, that the Church has power to make arrangements about Communion so long as it does not change the substance of the sacrament, that Christ is really present whole and entire both under the appearance of bread and under the appearance of wine, that infants, who have not come to the use of reason, are not bound to receive Holy Communion because they have been regenerated already by baptism. At this session there were present six cardinals, three patriarchs, nineteen archbishops, and one hundred and forty-eight bishops.
In the 22nd public session (17th Sept. 1562) decrees were published concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It was laid down that in place of the sacrifices and the priesthood of the Old Law Christ set up a new sacrifice, namely the Mass, the clean oblation foretold by the prophet Malachy (Mal. I., 11) and a new priesthood, to whom the celebration of the Mass was committed, that the sacrifice of the Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the Cross having the same high priest and the same victim, that the Mass may be offered up for the dead as well as for the living, that it may be offered up in honour of the Saints, that though the faithful should be advised to receive Holy Communion whenever they assist at Mass, yet private Masses at which nobody is present for Communion are not unlawful, and that, though it was not deemed prudent to allow the sacrifice to be offered up in the vulgar tongue, it was the earnest wish of the council that priests should explain the ceremonies of the Mass to the people especially on Sundays and holidays. The question of allowing the laity to receive the chalice was discussed at length, and it was decided finally to submit it to the decision of the Pope. Pius IV. did, indeed, make a concession on this point in favour of several districts in Austria; but as the Catholics did not desire such a concession and the Lutherans refused to accept it as insufficient the indult remained practically a dead-letter, and later on was withdrawn.
The next session was fixed for November 1562 but on account of very grave difficulties that arose a much more prolonged adjournment was rendered necessary. During this interval the old controversies broke out with greater violence and bitterness, and more than once it appeared as if the council would break up in disorder; but the perseverance, tact, and energy of the new legates, Cardinals Morone and Navagero, strengthened by the prudent concessions made by the Pope, averted the threatened rupture, and made it possible for the Fathers to accomplish the work for which they had been convoked. Cardinal Guise (de Lorraine) accompanied by a number of French bishops and theologians arrived at Trent in November 1562. His arrival strengthened the hands of those Spanish bishops who were insisting on having it defined that the obligation of episcopal residence was de jure divino. The question had been adjourned previously at the request of the legates, but with the advent of the discussion on the sacrament of Orders further adjournment was impossible. Several of the bishops maintained that the obligation must be jure divino, because the episcopate itself was de jure divino. From this they concluded that the bishops had their jurisdiction immediately from Christ, not mediately through the Pope as some of the papal theologians maintained. Consequently they asserted that the subordination of the bishops to the Pope was not, therefore of divine origin, thereby raising at once the whole question of the relations of a general council to a Pope and the binding force of the decrees regarding the superiority of a council passed at Constance and Basle.