The Indissolubility of Marriage and the Council of Trent
The Indissolubility of Marriage and the Council of Trent begins by laying out the fundamental questions addressed by Trent, the ambiguities of Canon 7, and the nature of the interpretive debate that's been underway since the early seventeenth century. It examines the views on divorce and remarriage of Luther and Calvin as the council fathers would have known them, as well as the beliefs and practices of the Greek churches. It then undertakes an analysis of the conciliar discussions as recorded in Trent's formal register (the Acta) and other primary documents. Brugger further provides an interpretation of the Council's final teaching on indissolubility. This interpretation draws attention to subtleties overlooked by most commentators on Trent. These have either over-interpreted the scope of the Council's teaching, arguing that its canons explicitly placed the divorce practices of Greek Christians under an anathema, or they have argued that the Council, intending no more than to strike the heresies of the Protestants, exempted Greek divorce from its authoritative promulgations. Drawing on both interpretations but siding with neither, Brugger proposes that Trent did indeed dogmatically teach the absolute indissolubility of sacramental marriage, while conceding a policy of toleration—but not approval—for Greek divorce for the sake of ecclesial communion between the churches.
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"With great energy and un blinking conviction, E. Christian Brugger, who is now professor and dean at the School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Australia, argues that the Council of Trent (1545–1563) taught unequivocally that marriage is indissoluble."—Commonweal Magazine
"I was happy to stumble upon Christian Brugger's breathtaking analysis of Trent. It is not a historical study but of crucial importance for the discussion of divorce and remarriage in Catholicism Brugger's book should be widely read and discussed; especially graduate students can learn from its clearly formulated arguments and its textual analysis; this is how historical theology should be done. Whether one agrees with the conclusions he presents or not—this is clearly one of the most important books on the history of Catholic theology of 2017."—Regensburg Forum
"Trent's decrees on the matter are certainly worthy of study and Brugger's analysis is as crisp as one could hopeThe author includes three appendices and nine tables, each of which add a layer of understanding to the debates, formulations, and outcomes on the Tridentine canon pertaining to marriage, adultery, and divorve. His diligence in rendering the complicated Latin into plain-spoken English and his familiarity with the secondary literautre on the subject commends the volume to both graduate theoligical libraries (both Catholic and Protestant), interested faculty, and canon law collections. Doubtless it will also be read in more than one Roman dicastery."—Catholic Library World
"Brugger's remarkable book is a singular service to the Church and essential reading for anyone, whether suspicious of or sympathetic to the thesis, and who is seriously interested in learning what Trent actually teaches about the indissolubility of marriage."—Thomist
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