In numerous discussions over the years with Roman Catholics on the question of authority the subject of the canon of scripture has usually come up. I have often heard it said that the church's magisterial authority is revealed by the fact that it was the church which 'canonised' the scriptures, in the sense of authoritatively drawing up a list of writings to be accepted as the 'canonical'. "The Catholic Church gave you your Bible", it is said, "so how can you not accept the authority of the Catholic Church?" I have always responded with Reformational theology's view that the church indeed received the scriptures as canonical, but only because her mind recognised them as divinely inspired. To put it in a nutshell, the church discerned the canon, she did not create the canon. This seems to me to be demonstrably true both historically and theologically. "Circular reasoning!" is the usual response, and there the discussion ends.
Needless to say, then, I was very interested to come across the following while doing some research on the subject:
"The books of the Old and New Testament, whole and entire, with all their parts, as enumerated in the decree of the same Council [Trent] and in the ancient Latin Vulgate, are to be received as sacred and canonical. And the Church holds them as sacred and canonical not because, having been composed by human industry, they were afterwards approved by her authority; nor only because they contain revelation without errors, but because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God for their Author." [italics mine]
Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Session 2, 6th January, 1870.
It seems as though some would-be Roman apologists have not been doing their homework. Setting aside the matter of the apocryphal books included in the Trentine decree and the Latin Vulgate Old Testament, a matter on which the Roman Catholic Church has made an historical error, this is a very acceptable statement of the matter.