2) Scripture and tradition are equal in authority – “with equal piety and reverence accepted,” was the phrase. This was the form in which the Council of Trent negated the Scriptural principle. What the tradition is, was not defined. Actually the tradition became identical with the decisions of the Vatican from day to day. But it was not defined and the fact that it was open made it possible that the Pope used it, however he wanted to use it. Of course he could not want to use it absolutely willfully, because there was an actual tradition deposited in the Councils and former decisions, but the present decision is always decisive, and the present decision about what the tradition is, is in the hands of the Pope.
3) There is only one translation which has ultimate and unconditional authority: the Vulgate of St. Jerome. This was said against Erasmus, who had edited a text of the New Testament in terms of higher criticism. This was used by the Reformers.
The Pope excluded this kind of higher criticism for dogmatic purposes by making the Vulgate the only sacred translation. This was the 3rd decision, and of equal importance.
4) This point is always decisive, when the principle of Biblicism prevails: Who interprets the Bible? Here the answer was unambiguous: The Holy Mother Church gives the interpretation of Scripture – not, as in Protestantism, the theological faculties.
Now the difference is that the Pope is one, and his decision is final; the theological faculties, who were actually the leaders in the centuries of Orthodoxy, if they differed from each other, had no authority above them: there were many faculties.
This of course made the. authority of the theological faculties ineffective in the long run.
Now this is the doctrine of authorities. You see, this doctrine alone is a restatement of everything against which the Reformers had fought. It makes the position of the Pope unimpeachable; he cannot be attacked or criticized, He is beyond any possibility of being undercut by a competing authority, even the Bible, because he has the sacred text, the Vulgate, and he alone has the interpretation of this sacred text, in ultimate decision.
5) This doctrine is decisive for the different interpretation of man: the doctrine of sin. Sin is a transformation of man into something worse – in deterius commutatum – commuted into something worse, or deteriorization. This is what the Council of Trent says against the Reformers who said that man has completely lost freedom, by his fall. His freedom – and freedom does not mean psychological freedom, in any of these discussions; this, everybody accepts – but the freedom to contribute to one’s relationship to God: this freedom is completely lost. But for the Roman decision, it is not 1ost, it is not extinguished, but it is only weakened. The sins before baptism are forgiven in the act of baptism, but after baptism concupiscence remains. But this concupiscence shouldn’t be called sin, according to the Roman church; while the Augustana (Augsberg Confession) says that sin is lack of faith, the Roman church says that although concupiscence comes from sin and inclines to sin, it is not sin itself. Now this means man is not completely corrupted, but even his natural drives are not sin. This is one important thing because that had the consequence that Catholicism – perhaps except in this country, where it was from the beginning very much influenced by the general climate here – in Europe, in any case, Catholicism is not puritan. Catholicism can be radically ascetic, in monastics, but it is not puritan ill the ordinary life. And when we from Protestant sections of north and eastern Germany came to Bavaria, we always had the feeling that we are now in a country which is gay, in comparison to the northern religious and moral climate, which had some similarity to American Puritanism. This is the difference in this doctrine. Concupiscence for the Reformers is sin in itself; for the Roman church it is not. Therefore it can admit many more liberties in the daily life, much more gaiety, many more expressions of the vital forces in man than Protestantism can.