The first session of the Council of Trent dealt only with doctrine and made no concessions whatsoever to the Protestants. A definite Catholic doctrine was established to show clearly the differences between Catholics and Protestants. This was to prevent any doubts in the future. Five statements came out of this first session:
1) Scripture and tradition were to be of equal authority – this denied the fundamental Protestant belief that the Bible alone was the basis of Christian belief.
2) The Catholic Church was to have the sole right in interpreting the Bible and the authority of the Vulgate was asserted. (The Vulgate was the ancient Latin version of the Scriptures produced by St. Jerome in the C4th.
3) Good works were upheld.
4) The seven sacraments were “absolutely necessary channels of divine salvation.”
5) Communion in both kinds was forbidden except by express permission of the pope.
This definition was a triumph for Paul Ill and in return he agreed that
- Bishops and priests were to preach regularly (but how could this be enforced?)
- Plurality in bishoprics was forbidden
Neither of these affected the power and position of the pope. All of this angered Charles V as the first session served no other purpose than highlighting the differences between Catholics and Protestants. By 1547, Charles V was in the process of defeating the Schmalkaldic League and fearing that he might use his military power to lean on the Council, it was moved to Bologna where it was safe from the pressure of Charles V.
Charles refused to let any more Spanish bishops attend and the Diet of Augsburg (1548) refused to recognise it or be bound by any of Bologna’s decrees. Paul Ill therefore suspended the Council in 1548. He died in 1549 and was succeeded by Julius III in 1550.