Critical Review: Part 2 – The Council of Trent and Nicaea II
The Ecumenical Council of Trent (1545-1563/1848) was held by the Roman Catholic Church, to formally define the doctrines of the universal Church subsequent to the Great Schism (Fortescue, 1912). As previously shown, in Trent (1545-1563/1848) the Council members decreed that, “due honor and veneration are to be given them [sacred images], not that any divinity or virtue is believed to be in them . . . but because the honour which is shown them is referred to the prototypes which those images represent” (pp. 234-235).
Meanwhile in the Second Council of Nicaea (Nicaea II; Second Council of Nicaea, 787/1969; The Seventh General Council, 787/2007) – the last Ecumenical Council both of, and recognized by, the undivided universal Church – the members decreed that (1) venerating icons was legitimate. (2) “Holy images . . . be set forth in all the holy Churches of God . . . on walls and on doors, in houses and by the highways . . . For, in proportion as these are continually seen in images and pictures, so are the minds of the beholders aroused to the remembrance of and affection for their prototypes.” (3) Latreia was reserved for God alone, whereas proskynesis could be paid to any sign representing its prototype, “For he who worships an image worships in it the person of him who is represented thereby.” And (4) the depictions written on holy icons were, “not like the original with respect to essence, but with respect to hypostasis.”
Therefore as shown above, the decree of Trent (1545-1563/1848) fully confirmed the decrees of Nicaea II (Second Council of Nicaea, 787/1969; The Seventh General Council, 787/2007) in relation to the veneration of sacred icons and depicting God the Father iconographically, because in Nicaea II no proscriptions were ever made in the latter regard and such lack of proscription was implicitly accepted in Trent. The decree of Trent additionally both confirmed the Nicaea II definition of icons as signs representing their prototypes, toward which proskynesis should be paid, and the fact that icons per se are neither sacraments nor sacramentals. Although they can serve as the latter, subsequent to being blessed by a member of the clergy.
- Fortescue, A. (1912). The Eastern Schism. In The Catholic Encyclopedia (2nd ed.). NY: Appleton. Retrieved September 30, 2011 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13535a.htm
- Second Council of Nicaea. (787/1969). In The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the undivided Church: Their canons and dogmatic decrees.Nicene and post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, Vol. XIV. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
- The Council of Trent: The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent. (1545-1563/1848; J. Waterworth, ed. & trans.). London: Dolman.
- The Seventh General Council: The second of Nicaea, held A. D. 787, in which the worship of images was established. (787/2007; J. Mendham, trans.). Whitefish, MT: Kessinger.