Friday, October 28, 2005

Latin is a dead language (who knew?!)

The post-mortem on the language of the Church.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Latin limped through another synod in October, as bishops paid lip service to the assembly's official language but did their real communicating in the vernacular.

When Cardinal Angelo Scola opened the synod with the traditional reading in Latin of the "relatio ante disceptationem" (pre-discussion report), bishops throughout the synod hall reached quickly for their translation headphones.

The Vatican's translators, also unprepared for the task, had to work from a parallel Italian text.

Latin came up in one of the synod propositions on liturgy, which called for training of seminarians so they are able to say Mass and lead prayers in Latin. But a proposal to promote Mass in Latin for international, multilingual gatherings of Catholics was downgraded from a recommendation to a suggestion.

He [Father Richard Foster] recalled that the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council, which ended 40 years ago, were conducted entirely in Latin.

Since then, he said, Latin "hasn't really been squelched -- 'oppressa est' -- but it's just been neglected -- 'neglecta est,' put off to the side."

Most younger priests and bishops don't know Latin well, he said, and the church's Latin teachers are disappearing, too. [...]

Read the complete article Rigor mortis? At synod, bishops give lip service to Latin from Catholic News Service.

I'm working on learning Latin myself. It's an intellectual exercise that I could use at this point, post-college. I would have taken it in school, but Latin I at the University of Iowa was at 8:30 AM, Monday through Friday... You get the idea. We'll see how my self-study goes.

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