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Sebastiaan Peter Cornelis Tromp S.J. (16 March 1889, Beek marker - 8 February 1975, Romemarker, name sometimes rendered Sebastiano Tromp or Sebastian Tromp in non-Dutch publications), a Dutchmarker Jesuit, was assisting Pope Pius XII in his theological encyclicals, and Pope John XXIII in the preparation of Vatican II. He was assistant to Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani during the council and, professor of Catholic theology at the Gregorian University (Rome) from 1929 until 1967.

Sebastiaan Tromp supported Pope Pius XII in the writing of the encyclical Mystici Corporis in 1943. Allegedly, encyclicals with similar dicta, Mediator Dei and Humani Generis were influenced by him as well, the extent of which is not known however. At the pastoral Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) he served at the specific request of Pope John XXIII as secretary of the Preparatory Theological Commission and, later, of the Doctrinal Commission under Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, considered a guardian of Catholic orthodoxy. These preparations, called "schemas", were shelved, after some West-European Council fathers appealed to Pope John XXIII for total free debate on all issues. Karl Rahner considered Tromp to be his formidable theological opponent during the council debates. He gently asserted, that Tromp "thought, his schemata would simply need the blessing of the council fathers and that would be the council. But all his schemata disappeared, not a single one was discussed."

Early life

After entering the Society of Jesus around 1910, Sebastiaan Tromp studied Classical Languages at the University of Amsterdammarker, where he received his doctorate at 32 years old in 1921. He received holy orders in 1922 and thus became a Jesuit priest. Until 1925 he continued studies at the pontifical universities of Rome, becoming Doctor of Philosophy, Magister of Theology, and magister accreditatus of the Gregorian University in Romemarker. Until 1929 he would also teach as a professor at the Theologicum of the Jesuit Order in Maastrichtmarker. In 1936 he was appointed consultator of the Holy Office, presided by Pope Pius XI. He was appointed visitator, and after having visited his native Netherlandsmarker in 1939 and again after the end of the Second World War and in 1954, he achieved a screening of Dutch major seminary and Catholic University of Nijmegenmarker professors who had taught Neo-Modernist theological propositions or even some directly condemned in the encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (1907). In 1951 Tromp was made a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences (Amsterdam). While progressive theologians despised his doctrinal orthodoxy, he was loved by other scientists and Catholic institutions, becoming a much-loved preacher during annual meetings of the minor seminary at Rolducmarker. Tromp loved ecclesiology. He was also a true shepherd, helping several controversial couples obtaining an official annulment of their previous marriages in the Vatican, but only after a rigid investigation; even valid annulments were often rejected as impious and sinful in the strict Catholic atmosphere of the Dutch parishes before 1960.

Already in 1937 Fr. Tromp elaborated on the dangers of Nazism and translated and referenced the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (1937) against the national socialist state errors and dangers.

Ratzinger and Tromp

Others opposed Tromp as well. At the Council, Karl Rahner was joined by Joseph Ratzinger, Alois Grillmeier, Otto Semmelroth and Hans Küng. They worked for the German Cardinals Josef Frings of Cologne and Julius Döpfner of Munich and Freising. Some of them opposed the Schemas (schemata) drawn up by the preparatory commission under Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani and Father Sebastiaan Tromp, S.J. The shelving of the schemas meant however, that the fathers of council had no written basis or preparation to start from anymore, and, consequently, that the Council of 2000 bishops for the moment had no more structure, strategy or agenda to rely on.

Joseph Ratzinger was opposed to this radical move by the Rahner group, which in fact took the Council off track. In his memoirs he presents a balanced view of Tromp’s.

  • (Cardinal Joseph Frings) began to send me these texts regularly in order to have my criticism and suggestions for improvement. Naturally I took exception to certain things, but I found no grounds for a radical rejection of what was being proposed. It is true that the documents bore only weak traces of the biblical and patristic renewal of the last decades, so that they gave an impression of rigidity and narrowness through their excessive dependency on scholastic theology. In other words, they reflected more the thought of scholars than that of shepherds. But I must say that they had a solid foundation and had been carefully elaborated

"Subsistit in" in Lumen Gentium

Recently the theology of Sebastian Tromp got some attention with a Vatican II definition on the identity of the Catholic Church with the Body of Christ, which he greatly influenced. Vatican Two states that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. See: "Subsistit in" in Lumen Gentium Gregorian University Professor Becker and Alexandra von Teufelbach argued that the phrase “subsists in” was intended by Tromp, “to reiterate that the Church of Christ, with the fullness of the means instituted by Christ, perdures [continues, remains] forever in the Catholic Church," To some this means a roll-back of an open Church concept, to others it documents consistency in the theology of Sebastian Tromp. and the Roman Catholic Church as a whole.


An interesting debate developed before Vatican II between Gabriel Roschini and Sebastian Tromp regarding the position of Mary in the Mystical Body of Christ. Roschini was able to show, that numerous writers, starting with Radulfus Ardens ( d.1200) used the neck to indicate Mary’s role. Even the Protestant reformer Johannes Oecolampadius used the neck to describe Mary as mediator of all graces. Through the neck all graces flow from the head to the parts of the body. The neck is used through the centuries as an allegory for all vital communication within the body. Bernardino of Siena (d 1444) is quoted by Roschini: Mary is the neck of our head, through which all gifts are given to his mystical body. Roschini quotes Pope Pius X Ad Diem Illum, that through Mary, all graces are mediated. He too considers the neck the most appropriate allegory for Mary’s mediator role.

Tromp considered the heart, the superior of all parts of the body, a better concept. Heart is more encompassing. Thomas Aquinas and following him, Leo XIII used it. The heart is in many ways incomparable to the other parts of the body, so Tromp. Likewise, no members of the Church can be compared to Mary. The heart, so Tromp, is co-substance (“konsubstantial”) with the head and the body, just like Mary, whose human nature participated with Christ and the members of his body. Because of her motherly love of Christ and of all the members of his body, she deserves to be called heart, so Tromp.

But Roschini was categorically opposed. The heart has influence over the head, and in view of Christ, this is impossible. “After giving him human nature, the Blessed Virgin has no influence whatsoever on Christ as head of the Church” In his encyclical Mystici Corporis, Pius XII avoided this issue, promoting Mary as the mother of the mystical body. He taught: She was already mother of the head, but, under the cross she was named mother of all its parts. Therefore the encyclical calls Mary, Genitrix, or mother of all members of the body of Christ.

Writings of Sebastiaan Tromp

  • De Romanorum piaculis, suffering 1921;
  • De Sacrae Scripturae inspiratione, Romae 1930, 1962 6 ;
  • De nativitate Ecclesiae ex Corde Iesu in Cruce, Roma 1932;
  • Actio Catholica in Corpore Christi, Roma 1936;
  • Corpus Christi quod est Ecclesia, Romae 1937, [ English expenditure corpus Christi quod est Ecclesia, New York 1960 ];
  • De revelatione Christian IANA, Romae 1929, 1950 6 ;
  • Doctrina S. Roberti Card. Bellarmini de assumptione B. Mariae Virginis in coelum, Roma 1951.

  • De Ecclesia Christi corpore", 13, 177-210; "II.
  • De actione catholica in corpore Christi ", 13, 321- 372;
  • De nativitate Ecclesiae ex Corde Iesu in Cruce", 13, 489- 527;
  • Tractatus S. Roberti Bellarmini iuvenis de praedestinatione. Introductio et edito autograph ", 14, 248-268;
  • Progressus doctrinalis in tractatibus S. Roberti Bellarmini de praedestinatione. Inquisitiones criticae et comparative ", 14, 313-355,
  • De Bellarmini indice haereticorum Treviris reperto", 15, 187-214, "Quaestiunculae Bellarminianae", 15, 439-442;
  • Conspectus chronologicus praelectionum quas habuit S. Robertus Bellarminus in Collegio S. Ith Lovaniensi et Collegio Romano", 16, 97-105,
  • Ecclesia Sponsa Virgo mould", 18, 3- 29;
  • S. Roberto Bellarminus et Beata Virgo", 21, 161-182; "
  • De Sancti Roberti Bellarmini Contionibus Lovaniensibus", 21, 383-412;
  • "De" Explanatione "et" Explanationibus "S.R. Bellarmini in Epistolas Paulinas", 22, 353-379;
  • "De biformi conceptu cum Christi mystici tum Corporis Christi mystici in Controversiis S.R. Bellarmini", 23, 279- 290;
  • "De DUA bus editionibus Concilii Tridentini", 38, 51-96;
  • "De manuscriptis acta et declarationes antiquas S. Congregationis Conc. Trid. continentibus ", 38, 481-502; 39, 93-129;
  • Caput influit sensum et motum". Col. 2,19 Eph. 4, 16 et into luce traditionis ", 39, 353-366;
  • Pro by Fagnanus Boni", 39, 770-772;
  • "De primis secretariis S. Congregationis Concilii", 40, 523-531;
  • "Quomodo verb sese conformet Corpori Ecclesiae", 41, 451-466; "De futuro Concilio Vaticano II", 43, 5-11.
  • Publisher: Bellarmino, R. Liber de locis COMM university bus continens Tractatum primum de R. Pontifice, Romae 1935; identification, Opera oratoria postuma, Romae 1942-1969;
  • Pius PP. XII, Allocutiones of tres ad S. Romanam Rotam habitae a.D. 1941, 1942, 1944, Romae 1944.


  • Karl Rahner, Bekenntnisse, Munichmarker, 1984
  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Milestones; Memoirs 1927-1977 San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998
  • Alexandra von Teuffenbach Konzilstagebuch Sebastian Tromp SJ mit Erläuterungen and Akten aus der Arbeit der Theologischen Kommission, 2006, Editrice Pontificia Università Gregoriana ISBN 978-88-7839-057-7
  • J.T.P. Barten TROMP, Sebastiaan Peter Cornelis (1889-1975), 2008. Biography at the Institute for Dutch History website (in Dutch)


  1. Karl Rahner, Bekenntnisse, München 1984 33,
  2. Karl Rahner, Bekenntnisse, München 1984 33,
  3. Karl Rahner, Bekenntnisse, München 1984 34,
  4. Avery Dulles, From Ratzinger to Benedict First Things, February 2006.
  5. Ratzinger 121
  6. Father Becker is an intellectual architect of the evangelical Catholic school, and his article drew on a dissertation written under him at Rome’s Gregorian University by a young German scholar named Alexandra von Teuffenbach, one of the first to draw on the diaries of Jesuit Father Sebastian Tromp, a theological expert at Vatican II. Father Tromp helped pioneer the term “subsists in.” Reform rollback or emerging ‘sane modernity’ – Evangelical Catholicism triumphant, Vatican watcher states NCR 8/28/2007
  7. NCR 8/28/2007
  8. Becker, Alexandra von Teufelbach
  9. Bodem, in Mystischer Leib, Marienlexikon, 1988, 573
  10. Bodem 573
  11. Bodem 574

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