The Decrees of the Vatican Council/Part 1/Chapter 2

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Of Revelation

THE same holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the beginning and end of all things, may be certainly known by the natural light of human reason by means of created things—"for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made";[1] but that it pleased His wisdom and bounty to reveal Himself, and the eternal decrees of His will to mankind by another and supernatural way, as the Apostle says: "God, having spoken on divers occasions and in many ways in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days, hath spoken to us by His Son."[2]

It is to be ascribed to this divine revelation that such truths among things divine as of themselves are not beyond human reason can, even in the present condition of mankind, be known by every one with facility, with firm assurance, and with no admixture of error.[3] This, however, is not the reason why revelation is to be called absolutely necessary; but because God, of His infinite goodness, has ordained man to a supernatural end, viz., to be a sharer of divine blessings which utterly exceed the intelligence of the human mind; for "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him."[4]

Further, this supernatural revelation, according to the universal belief of the Church, declared by the sacred Synod of Trent, is contained in the written books and unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or by the Apostles themselves, from the dictation of the Holy Spirit, transmitted, as it were, from hand to hand, have come down even to us.[5] And these books of the Old and New Testaments are to be received as sacred and canonical in their integrity, with all their parts, as they are enumerated in the decree of the said Council, and are contained in the ancient Latin edition of the Vulgate. These the Church holds to be sacred and canonical; not because, having been carefully composed by mere human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; not because they contain revelation, with no admixture of error; but because, having been written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author, and have been delivered as such to the Church itself.

And as the things which, in order to curb rebellious spirits, the holy Synod of Trent decreed for the good of souls concerning the interpretation of divine Scripture have been wrongly explained by some, We, renewing the said decree, declare this to be its meaning: that, in matters of faith and morals, appertaining to the building up of Christian doctrine, that is to be held as the true sense of Holy Scripture which our holy Mother Church hath held and holds, to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures; and, therefore, that it is permitted to no one to interpret the Sacred Scripture contrary to this sense or likewise contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

  1. Romans i, 20.
  2. Heb. i, 1, 2.
  3. Summa Theol. 2a 2æ, ii, 4.
  4. 1 Cor. ii, 9.
  5. Council of Trent, sess. iv, de Can. Script.