Pope starts new Vatican department to promote Latin

VATICAN CITY Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:34pm EST

1 of 2. Pope Benedict XVI blesses as he leads a special audience for members of Saint Cecilia choir academy in Paul VI's Hall at the Vatican November 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Max Rossi

Related Topics

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Saturday started a new Vatican department to promote the study and use of Latin in the Roman Catholic Church and beyond.

The old-style Latin Mass was phased out more than 40 years ago in favor of local languages, but the pope is giving it another try. Latin remains the official language of the universal church.

The Vatican said the pope had instituted the Pontifical Academy for Latin Studies, placing it under the auspices of the Vatican's ministry for culture.

In his letter announcing the new department, the pope said that Latin was the subject of renewed interest around the world and the purpose of the academy was to encourage further growth.

He said Catholic seminarians studying for the priesthood were weak in studies of the humanities in general and Latin in particular. They would benefit from a deeper knowledge of the language and be able to read ancient Church texts in the original.

It was the latest attempt by a string of modern-day popes to give the ancient language a boost.

In 1962, Pope John XXIII published "Veterum Sapientia" a document aimed at promoting the study of Latin, and in 1976 Pope Paul VI started the Latin Foundation and its quarterly "Latinitas". But those ventures met with mixed results at best.

"It appears necessary to support a commitment to a greater understanding of the use of Latin, both in the Church and in the greater world of culture," Pope Benedict wrote in the letter setting up the academy.

The new academy's statutes, written of course in Latin, say its goal is to promote both written and spoken Latin through publications, conferences, seminars and performances.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Stephen Powell)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
gregbrew56 wrote:
Great. Resurrect a dead language to promote equally dead dogma.

How about instead promoting education and the joining of the 21st century?

Nov 10, 2012 2:09pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Tiu wrote:
I’d love to be able to compare the original bible with the post-reformation vernacular versions… and I’m not even a church goer. I am fascinated with religion from a political/historical point of view – I suspect Jesus would spit the dummy at the religious leaders of today, just as he spat the dummy at the money changers and the pharisees (who were the zionists of his day).
What would he make of the Queen of England being the head of the Church of (the Bank of) England?

Nov 10, 2012 3:17pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.