New Vatican call for use of Latin

2004 April 1
New Vatican call for use of Latin

A new document on the use of Latin in the Church, and the teaching of Latin in seminaries, is expected sometime this year.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, has confirmed that he hopes the document being prepared by that Congregation will be published in 2004.

«In order not to mutilate herself, the Church cannot fail to conserve her tradition and patrimony written in Latin,» the Polish cardinal remarked during a February 25 meeting in Rome. He pointed out that Latin remains the official language of the Roman Church, and the official documents of the magisterium are written in that language. Therefore, he concluded, the Church needs priests who are familiar with the language, in order to ensure that they fully understand Catholic teachings.

Cardinal Grocholewski expressed regret that previous Vatican statements encouraging the teaching of Latin in Catholic seminaries -such as Pope Paul VI's Veterum Sapientia of 1962- are clearly not being applied. He added that Pope John Paul II had also encouraged Latin study in his 1979 apostolic constitution Sapientia Christiana, and the 1983 Code of Canon Law states calls for a «good understanding» of Latin among Catholic priests. On the 40th anniversary of Veterum Sapentia, Pope John Paul said that he would like to see «an ever stronger love for that language among the candidates for the priesthood.»

The Congregation for Catholic Education, which is preparing the new document on the use of Latin, is asking a group of Latin scholars to review the proposed text. After that editorial review, the document will be sent to the presidents of the world's episcopal conferences before being made public. Cardinal Grocholewski indicated that he hoped that entire process would be complete before the end of 2004.