“De Pontificia Academia Latinitatis condenda”

VATICAN CITY — On Saturday the Vatican published — in Latin — Pope Benedict XVI’s document establishing the “Pontifical Academy for Latinity,” a title meant to project the fact that it won’t be concerned only with the Latin language, but also with the Latin culture and literature that are part of the Western cultural and intellectual heritage. (See CNS STORY: Pope establishes pontifical Latin Academy)

Until the academy’s establishment was announced Saturday, the Vatican’s Latin scribes were doing double-duty as the manpower behind “Latinitas,” a Latin-studies journal.

U.S. Msgr. Daniel B. Gallagher is one of the seven staff members of the Vatican Secretariat of State’s Office of Latin Letters, which translates papal correspondence and documents into Latin, which is still the official language of the church.

Msgr. Gallagher said it was significant that the papal document was signed Nov. 10, the feast of St. Leo the Great, “whom most of us consider to be the most outstanding Latin stylist.”

CNS interviewed Msgr. Gallagher in September. You can watch the video here:

Earlier, Msgr. Gallagher and some students at the Pontifical North American College in Rome spoke to CNS about their interest in Latin studies:

7 Responses

  1. This is Excellent News! The Official Language of the Catholic Church will be used again. When the Tridentine Latin Masses are able to be celebrated without the requirements of any special permission(a pastor’s permission is still required), it will be pronounced correctly by a priest who will understand what he is saying, and will be fully able to explain it to his flock.

  2. Lydia, “. . . [he] will be fully able to explain it to his flock.” Aye, there’s the rub. Why should anyone have to explain the words used at worship–aside, that is, from the theological explanations that are part of homilies? I don’t see where that makes much sense, any more than having to follow the ritual with a translation in hand.

    However, I certainly agree that any group of people wishing to worship in Latin should have the standing right to do so, assuming they have a priest available. I suspect, however, that availability is problematical these days, given the shortage of priests.

    Hoping, too, that the Vatican can financially afford to establish yet another bureau.

  3. I think if the Priests want to study in Latin, then they should be able to do that. If they want their Private devotions in Latin, or Masses only for them, Latin is fine. I do not want MY Mass in Latin-or Aramaic-or any language other than the one I can UNDERSTAND and PARTICIPATE in!! If the whole Mass was in Latin, I would STOP GOING to Mass. I am in RCIA and love the Mass the way IT IS-not the way it WAS. I am looking forward to Confirmation @ Easter, but if the Mass changes back to Latin, I will not go through with it. This is supposed to be the Year of Evangelization. As someone who is coming out of the Evangelical-Protestant world, I can assure you that Latin will attract NO-ONE.

  4. To Duane Laumers, I understand that you personally do not care for the Latin Mass, but at least you believe in the right of others to do so. As to Marie M., you believe that no one would care about the Tridentine Latin Mass, and though you state that “I can assure you that Latin will attract NO-ONE,” where I live there is a shortage of priests and a Huge Clamoring for the Latin Mass. I go to a church where it is celebrated daily, and the Masses are very well attended. I come from a background of innumerable Catholics, including Nuns and Priests, and the Tridentine Latin Mass was waited for and has been accepted with Widely opened arms. And even here, it is an Option-the Novo Ordo (post-Vatican II Mass), is celebrated for those who prefer The Mass in there own vernacular.

  5. It is good to preserve and to learn some Latin, it’s very helpful when you are out of your country, want to assist to Mass and can understand at least some of the words or even sing or pray because you’ve learned songs or prayers in Latin. It can be a truly global christian language. Obviously, nothing better that have not only Mass, but everything available in your native language if you are in your own country we have to give thanks to God for Vatican II.

  6. Marie, Dear me I think maybe your rcia has not given you a good understanding. If you would cease to be a Catholic if the Mass were in latin than perhaps you should think about why you are becoming a Catholic. one of the tenets of Catholicism is Tradition. If you do not accept the church through the last 2000 years you do not accept the church of today. And what would you do if you had to move to a foreign country where you didnt speak the language? give up being a Catholic? Im not discouraging you from becoming a Catholic, Jesus wants us all to know, love and serve him and that means being a Catholic, but if you do join, join because you follow the teaching authority of the church even if that hierarchy goes against your personal opinions

  7. I can follow Mass even if it’s in another language because I know it by heart in English and I always travel with my English language Missal.(which I also use at English language Masses to participate more)
    Personally I like the chants in Latin but certain parts of the Mass in Latin I don’t understand and cannot follow, especially the Eucharistic and other prayers the Priests say. I find French a more melodious language to hear Mass in because it’s close to my native language also.
    But anybody is entitled to their own opinion and Latin is the official language of the Church and I don’t think is will be compulsery to all Masses. The thing is, no one speaks it fluently in the way it was originally pronounced, I don’t know of a part of the world where it is a native language and the only language those people know. Sometimes I find it a bit laughable when English speaking people pronounce words in Latin, you can always hear the English accent.
    But that’s just my opinion.

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