On the Necessity of Latin – Crisis Magazine

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Does the Catholic Church need Latin? Most Roman Catholics now worship in the vernacular, and some argue that with good translations available, Catholics do not need to acquaint themselves with it, outside of a few specialists. 

Does the Catholic Church need Latin? I came across a comment by a priest on Twitter recently who, while admittedly trying to gently provoke his followers, stated that he didn’t think Latin was anything special or sacred. He was speaking about the Mass, but there are many who don’t see any purpose for that venerable tongue in the Church today. Most Roman Catholics now worship in the vernacular, and one could argue that with good translations available, Catholics do not need to acquaint themselves with it, outside of a few specialists. 

Now, as someone whose Latin is admittedly rudimentary, I am not the best candidate to defend the sacrality of the Latin tongue. But I do think the good priest (and those who think as he does) deserves an explanation as to why it is and should be sacred to Roman Catholics, even ordinary Catholics who are not theologians and translators.

First, I think it should be clear that it is the Church’s Latin that is sacred and not Latin in general. No one thinks Catholics need to be able to read Cicero or fifteenth-century humanist poets (though Pius XII did once commission a translation of the psalter into classical Latin, which no one liked). It is the Latin of Western Church Fathers, of the Vulgate, the Roman Canon, the “Dies Irae” and many other ancient texts that is sacred to Catholics. If it is not obvious, this question of Latin is bound up with the Old Roman Rite, since it is one of the oldest expressions of this Latin, and one that has been hallowed by the many saints who worshiped in that rite down the ages.

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On the Necessity of Latin – Crisis Magazine

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