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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,[1] 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,[2] since that old serpent,[3] 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 sin:

    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,[4] and, together with death, captivity under his power who thenceforth had the empire of death, that is to say, the devil,[5] and that the entire Adam through that offense of prevarication was changed in body and soul for the worse,[6] let him be anathema.

    2. If anyone asserts that the transgression of Adam injured him alone and not his posterity,[7] 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.[8]

    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,[9] who has reconciled us to God in his own blood, made unto us justice, sanctification and redemption;[10] 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.[11]

    Whence that declaration:
Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sins of the world;[12] and that other:
As many of you as have been baptized, have put on Christ.[13]

    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,[14] 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,[15] 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.[16]

    For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.[17]

    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,[18] who walk not according to the flesh,[19] but, putting off the old man and putting on the new one who is created according to God,[20] are made innocent, immaculate, pure, guiltless and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, joint heirs with Christ;[21] 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.[22]

    This concupiscence, which the Apostle sometimes calls sin,[23] 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.[24]



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. 175.

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., III, 12.




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