The Council of Trent
Decree Concerning Original Sin
Session V - 17 June 1546
That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please
God, may, after the destruction of errors, remain integral and spotless
in its purity, and that the Christian people may not be carried about with
every wind of doctrine, since that old
serpent, the everlasting
enemy of the human race, has, among the many evils with which the Church
of God is in our times disturbed, stirred up also not only new but also
old dissensions concerning original sin and its remedy, the holy,
ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy
Ghost, the same three legates of the Apostolic See presiding, wishing now
to reclaim the erring and to strengthen the wavering, and following the
testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, of the holy Fathers, of the most
approved councils, as well as the judgment and unanimity of the Church
herself, ordains, confesses and declares these things concerning original
1. If anyone does not confess that the first man, Adam, when he
transgressed the commandment of God in paradise, immediately lost the
holiness and justice in which he had been constituted, and through the
offense of that prevarication incurred the wrath and indignation of god,
and thus death with which God had previously threatened him, and,
together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the
empire of death, that is to say, the devil, and that the entire Adam
through that offense of prevarication was changed in body and soul for the
worse, let him be anathema.
2. If anyone asserts that the transgression of Adam injured him alone
and not his posterity, and that the holiness and justice which he
received from God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone and not for us
also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has transfused
only death and the pains of the body into the whole human race, but not
sin also, which is the death of the soul, let him be anathema, since he
contradicts the Apostle who says:
By one man sin entered into the world and by sin death; and so death
passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.
3. If anyone asserts that this sin of Adam, which in its origin is one,
and by propagation, not by imitation, transfused into all, which is in
each one as something that is his own, is taken away either by the forces
of human nature or by a remedy other than the merit of the one mediator,
our Lord Jesus Christ, who has reconciled us to God in his own blood,
made unto us justice, sanctification and redemption; or if he denies
that that merit of Jesus Christ is applied both to adults and to infants
by the sacrament of baptism rightly administered in the form of the
Church, let him be anathema; for there is no other name under heaven given
to men, whereby we must be saved.
Whence that declaration:
Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world; and that other:
As many of you as have been baptized, have put on Christ.
4. If anyone denies that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs,
are to be baptized, even though they be born of baptized parents, or says
that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins, but that they
derive nothing of original sin from Adam which must be expiated by the
laver of regeneration for the attainment of eternal life, whence it
follows that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins is to
be understood not as true but as false, let him be anathema, for what the
Apostle has said, by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death,
and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned, is not to
be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church has everywhere and
always understood it.
For in virtue of this rule of faith handed down from the apostles, even
infants who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this
reason truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that in them
what they contracted by generation may be washed away by regeneration.
For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot
enter into the kingdom of heaven.
5. If anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which is
conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted, or says that
the whole of that which belongs to the essence of sin is not taken away,
but says that it is only canceled or not imputed, let him be anathema.
For in those who are born again God hates nothing, because there is no
condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism
unto death, who walk not according to the
flesh, but, putting off
the old man and putting on the new one who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, guiltless and beloved of
God, heirs indeed of God, joint heirs with Christ; so that there is
nothing whatever to hinder their entrance into heaven.
But this holy council perceives and confesses that in the one baptized
there remains concupiscence or an inclination to sin, which, since it is
left for us to wrestle with, cannot injure those who do not acquiesce but
resist manfully by the grace of Jesus Christ; indeed, he who shall have
striven lawfully shall be crowned.
This concupiscence, which the Apostle sometimes calls
sin, the holy
council declares the Catholic Church has never understood to be called sin
in the sense that it is truly and properly sin in those born again, but in
the sense that it is of sin and inclines to sin.
But if anyone is of the contrary opinion, let him be anathema.
This holy council declares, however, that it is not its intention to
include in this decree, which deals with original sin, the blessed and
immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of God, but that the constitutions of
Pope Sixtus IV, of happy memory, are to be observed under the penalties
contained in those constitutions, which it renews.
1. Heb. 11:6.
2. Eph. 4:14.
3. Gen. 3:1 ff.; Apoc. 12:9; 20:2.
4. Gen. 2:17.
5. Heb. 2:14.
6. Cf. II Synod of Orange (529), c. I. Denzinger, no. 174.
7. See 1 Cor. 15:21 f.; II Synod of Orange, c.2. Ibid., no.
8. Rom. 5:12.
9. See 1 Tim. 2:5.
10. See 1 Cor. 1:30.
11. Acts 4:12.
12. John 1:29.
13. Gal. 3:27.
14. Acts 2:38.
15. Rom. 5:12.
16. C.153, D.IV de cons.
17. John 3:5.
18. Rom. 6:4; C.13, D.IV de cons.
19. Rom. 8:1.
20. Eph. 4:22, 24; Col. 3:9f.
21. Rom. 8:17.
22. See II Tim. 2:5.
23. Rom. 6-8; Col. 3.
24. Cc. 1, 2, Extrav. comm., De reliq. et venerat. sanct.,