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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, September 4, 2016


From the writings of Roman Catholic Saints, Popes, and Theologians 
You know, a time will come when a man will no longer be able  
to say, "I speak Latin and am a Christian" and go his way in  
peace. There will come frontiers, frontiers of all kinds --  
between men -- and there will be no end to them.  --Cardinal St.  
 Liturgical Reform, having as one of its basic principles the  
abolition of all mystical acts and formulations, insists upon the  
usage of modern languages for the divine service....  The hatred  
of the Latin language is inborn in the hearts of all who hate  
Rome.  They see in it a bond that unites throughout the world, a  
weapon of orthodoxy against all the subtleties of the sectarian  
spirit, and a most powerful arm of the Papacy....  Surely it is  
one of the most masterful strokes of the reformers to declare war  
on the holy language of Latin, for if they succeed in destroying  
its use, their aims are all but accomplished.  The liturgy, from  
the moment it loses its sacred character and is offered to the  
people in a profaned manner, becomes like a dishonored virgin....   
How long do you think the faithful will go to hear these  
self-styled liturgists cry "The Lord be with you" and how long  
will they continue to respond "and with your spirit"?  --Dom  
Prosper Gueranger, "The Antiliturgical Heresy"  
     It [the Traditional Latin Mass] is virtually unchanged since  
the third century.  --John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Callistus"  
     For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is 
destined to endure until the end of time ... OF ITS VERY NATURE requires 
a language that is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular.  --Pope 
Pius XI, Officiorum Omnium, 1922

     The day the Church abandons her universal tongue [Latin] is  
the day before she returns to the catacombs.  --Pope Pius XII  
     The use of the Latin language prevailing in a great part of  
the Church affords at once an imposing sign of unity and an  
effective safeguard against the corruptions of true doctrine.   
--Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 1947, Sec. 60  
     Latin is the immutable language of the Western Church.   
--Pope John XXIII

     The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every 
merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord.  It is 
altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be 
noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.  --Pope John XXIII, Veterum 
Sapientia, February 22, 1962 (just eight months before the opening of 
Vatican II), chap. 13

     We also, impelled by the weightiest of reasons ... are fully 
determined to restore this language to its position of honor and to do 
all We can to promote its study and use.  The employment of Latin has 
recently been contested in some quarters, and many are asking what the 
mind of the Apostolic See is in this matter.  We have therefore decided 
to issue the timely directives contained in this document, so as to 
ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained 
and, where necessary, restored.  --Pope John XXIII, Veterum Sapientia, 
February 22, 1962 (just eight months before the opening of Vatican II), 
chap. 13
     The use of the Latin language ... is to be preserved in the  
Latin rites.  --Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium  
(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), para. 36.1  
     In accordance with the age-old tradition of the Latin rite,  
the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the Divine  
Office.  --Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium  
(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), para. 101.1  
     If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church, it is  
essential to keep a universal tongue.  --Cardinal Heenan (1967)

     The Latin language is assuredly worthy of being defended with great 
care instead of being scorned; for the Latin Church it is the most 
abundant source of Christian civilization and the richest treasury of 
piety....  We must not hold in low esteem these traditions of your 
fathers, which were your glory for centuries.  --Pope Paul VI, 
Sacrificium Laudis, August 15, 1966, Epistle to Superiors General of 
Clerical Religious Institutes Bound to Choir, on the Celebration of the 
Divine Office in Latin
     We cannot permit something that could be the cause of your  
own downfall, that could be the source of serious loss to you,  
and that surely would afflict the Church of God with sickness and  
sadness.... The same Church gives you the mandate to safeguard  
the traditional dignity, beauty, and gravity of the choral office  
in both its language [Latin] and its chant.... Obey the commands  
that a great love for your own ancient observances itself  
suggests....  --Pope Paul VI, Sacrificium Laudis, August 15, 1966, 
Epistle to Superiors General of Clerical Religious  
Institutes Bound to Choir, on the Celebration of the Divine  
Office in Latin  
     We address especially the young people:  In an epoch when in  
some areas, as you know, the Latin language and the human values  
are less appreciated, you must joyfully accept the patrimony of  
the language which the Church holds in high esteem and must, with  
energy, make it fruitful.  The well-known words of Cicero, "It is  
not so much excellent to know Latin, as it is a shame not to know  
it" [Non tam praeclarum est scire Latine, quam turpe nescire  
(Brutus, xxxvii.140)] in a certain sense are directed to you.  We  
exhort you all to lift up high the torch of Latin which is even  
today a bond of unity among peoples of all nations.  --Pope John  
Paul II, 1978
     Nevertheless, there are also those people who, having been  
educated on the basis of the old liturgy in Latin, experience the  
lack of this "one language," which in all the world was an  
expression of the unity of the Church and through its dignified  
character elicited a profound sense of the Eucharistic Mystery.   
It is therefore necessary to show not only understanding but also  
full respect towards these sentiments and desires.  As far as  
possible these sentiments and desires are to be accommodated, as  
is moreover provided for in the new dispositions.  The Roman  
Church has special obligations towards Latin, the splendid  
language of ancient Rome, and she must manifest them whenever the  
occasion presents itself.  --Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae, 
February 24, 1980, sec. 10


 The greatest legacy of the Roman Empire to us was its language.  So easy 
was it to learn that the illiterate barbarians not only learned it, but after 
they had conquered Rome, they preferred it to their local vernacular.  So easy 
was it to write that countless stones and books attest to centuries of knowledge 
in its elegant letters.  So easy was it to expand that varying disciplines such 
as law and science were equally easy to express in it.

 It was not happenstance, but the hand of Providence -- God sticking His 
finger directly into history, so to speak -- that gave the infant Roman Catholic 
Church not a babel of vernacular languages, but the third and last of the three 
sacred languages.  With it, the Church emerged fullblown after the persecutions 
of the first three centuries and spread the Faith to all nations.

 Through the Latin language, the Church inherited the universal character 
of the Roman empire.  It was because of this one language that Christianity 
spread over that empire like wildfire -- from Armenia in the East all the way to 
Scotland in the North.
 Latin has been the Catholic language, a unifying factor and a doctrinal 
safeguard for the faith and morals of the Church.  In a significant way, it 
gives to the Church its marks of "one, holy, catholic, and apostolic."   The 
Roman historian Valerius Maximus (Memorabilium II.2.2), who lived during the 
time of Christ, described Latin as the essential vehicle of communication in the 
Apostolic Age:  "From the age of the founding fathers, indeed, the majesty of 
the Roman people was to be recognized.  Therefore, among all other marks of 
gravity, this particular rule always prevailed:  No response was ever given to 
any Greek except in the Latin language."

 The Christian writer Origen (?185-?254) saw the concurrence of the Pax 
Romana, the Pax Augusta, with the rise of Christianity and that the two would 
have to flow into a common tide.  It was not a question of any historical 
coincidence, but a manifestation of the ruling hand of Providence.  "Of a truth, 
God willed to prepare the nations for His teaching, and provided that they 
should submit to one Roman Emperor.  Nor should there be a plurality of kings 
and nations alienated from one another, to make it more difficult for the 
Apostles to follow what was commanded to them by the words of Christ, 'Go ye 
forth and teach all nations.'  And so, it was constituted for Jesus to be born 
under Augustus who, in one great kingdom, had congregated the multitudes 
scattered over the world"  (Contra Celsum, II.412.30.)

 Dante in his De Monarchia (I:16, II: 11-12) held that Christ either 
awaited or arranged that the Incarnation waited until the time of Augustus, when 
there was a complete and single-world government that pacified the world, when 
mankind enjoyed the blessing of universal peace and tranquility, called by St. 
Paul the "fullness of time."  It has been said that the Roman Catholic Church is 
the last great gift of the Roman Empire.

 Thus, the Latin language is Providence's vehicle for communicating the one 
true Faith to the world.  Latin is the essence of everything Roman.  Intrinsic 
within its grammar and syntax is an unmatched capacity for analysis, resolution, 
appraisal, definition, ascertainment, determination, trial and evidence, 
criticism and judgment.  Latin is the essence of everything Roman:  simple, 
straightforward, and direct, an irreducible tongue by which fragmentation was 
not possible.  No language in history has lent itself so perfectly to 
the radiation of a belief and to the construction of a creed.

 Recent scholarship points to the fact that at Rome and its environs Latin 
was the language of the Roman Catholic liturgy not from the third century as 
previously believed, but as early as St. Paul's journey to the area of Pompeii 
(Acts 28:14) around the year 60, some thirty years after Christ's death on the 

 Christ Himself may have spoken Latin.  The words of the Roman centurion 
that we recall at every Mass, Domine, non sum dignus, are likely to have been 
quoted in the language in which they were spoken, and Christ's reply may well 
have been in the same tongue, just like His interview with Pontius Pilate.

 It is this sacred language in which has come down to us the Divine Office 
said by the clergy around the hours of the day; the only authoritative version 
of the Scriptures, St. Jerome's Vulgate; canon law and theology, doctrine and 
dogma; and the prayers and devotions of the Church for twenty centuries.  But 
most of all, it is in the immemorial Mass, which we celebrate here today.

 As the late Archbishop Dwyer of Portland, Oregon, put it, our traditional 
Latin liturgy possesses "much restraint and austerity, an impressive beauty, a 
generous melody."  With it we express a sense of the holy and divine that our 
souls so ardently desire.

 For our souls, as God created them, do not seek a God of slang and 
slogans.  Our souls seek an almighty God, a God Who in all His sacredness and 
awesomeness must be approached in our public worship with a deep sense of 
majesty, and prayed to in a language steeped in dignity, mysticism, and 
holiness.  Fathers at the Council of Trent had underlined the special reverence 
aroused by the use of the sacred language instead of the vulgar tongues, which 
elicited "the contempt of men who find it easy to ignore things that are 
familiar to them and common."

 In modern times, we are witnessing a tendency toward a loss of our 
Catholic Tradition.  This tendency has been particularly active in the last 
thirty years.  This tendency is in fact temporary.  We traditional Catholics, 
worshipping as the Roman Catholic Church always has, with the Traditional Latin 
Mass, are evidence of that.

 And we are joined by tens of thousands across this country and over a 
million throughout the world in doing so.  Latin Gregorian chant cannot be kept 
in stock at record stores.  The study of Latin in our schools is again 
blossoming.  When the present generation passes, we can be confident that the 
Traditional Latin Mass will continue and grow, just as it has for the last two 

 All of us can rededicate ourselves to preserving our great western 
heritage and Roman Catholic tradition.  We can study more deeply this great gift 
that the Church has given to us, the Traditional Latin Mass, "the most beautiful 
thing this side of heaven" [Frederick Faber].

 We can increase our familiarity with the sacred language of this Mass and 
of our Faith.  A good place to start would be the Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, 
and the Gloria Patri, which every Catholic should know.  Use them when you say 
the Rosary.  Use them when you say the Angelus.

 In this, we follow the current pope, who has joined his predecessors in 
addressing this charge to faithful Catholics [1978]:  "You must joyfully accept 
the patrimony of the language which the Church holds in high esteem and must, 
with energy, make it fruitful.  [In] the well-known words of Cicero, 'It is not 
so much excellent to know Latin, as it is a shame not to know it'" [Non tam 
praeclarum est scire Latine, quam turpe nescire (Brutus, xxxvii.140)].  +

 Providence gave the Church a great gift, the Latin language, which was the 
perfect vessel for the expression of the perfect theology and the perfect 
practical instrument for maintaining "catholic" the Faith through the centuries.

 Like a priceless gem, since the beginning of the Church (as now confirmed 
by archaeology), Latin has been the divinely established vehicle for the 
expression of Catholic theology and doctrine.  All the great minds of the Church 
formulated their discussions and explanations in this language, which is 
unparalleled for clarity and precision (don't those vernacular documents from 
the Vatican now sound muddled as never before Vatican II?).  St. Augustine, St. 
Anselm, St. Albert, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, St. Alphonsus, all the 
Popes and Councils, all the Fathers and Doctors honed Catholic doctrine 
carefully in this expressive language.

 With 2000 years of Roman Catholic Tradition and dogma, plus the 
confirmation, implicit or explicit, of every pope, the vernacular is really 
untenable.  Latin is the gatekeeper of the Roman Catholic Faith.

 Dom Prosper Gueranger, the great liturgist of the 19th century, 
demonstrated that it was "the sympathy of heretics for the vernacular in the 
divine service" that had brought the Council of Trent to "pronounce a dogmatic 
definition in this matter which at first seemed only to affect discipline."  
Instead, the Council Fathers had not taken a disciplinary measure, but had given 
a "dogmatic definition" establishing Latin as a sacred language and ipso facto, 
excluding vernaculars from the liturgy of the Mass.

 Fears expressed if the Church were ever to abandon her Latin language have 
come true in the post-Vatican II period:

Pre-Vatican II:  The Holy See feared that the substitution of national languages 
for Latin would be opening the door to schism and the nationalization of 
worship.  Post-Vatican II:  the liturgy has become nationalized.

Pre-Vatican II:  The Holy See feared that the introduction of the vulgar tongues 
would work toward the separation from Rome of the nationalized churches.  Post-
Vatican II:  The "American Church," the "French Church," the "German Church," 
etc., are in effect in schism from the Roman Catholic Church, hanging only by 
the thread of a facade.

Pre-Vatican II:  The Holy See viewed Latin as going with Catholicism 
and the vernacular with Protestantism.  Post-Vatican II:  The institutional 
Catholic Church has become Protestantized in liturgy and doctrine to a degree 
that not even Martin Luther imagined.

 It is not happenstance that when the Novus Ordo apparatus abandoned the 
Church's catholic language, the Church began disintegrating.  You see, language 
is not just some accident, like the particular glint of a gemstone.  Rather, it 
is at the essence of the gemstone.  If you try to split it, you risk fracturing 
the entire stone. Anyone who has seriously studied language is well aware that 
thought (semantics) and its expression (language) are inseparable.  That is 
exactly what happened when the Novus Ordo apparatus began to abandon its 
Latinitas, its Romanitas.

 Nor was this happenstance either, or for any of the mindless mantras one 
hears -- for better "participation" of the "people," for "aggiornamento," for 
"modernismo," or whatever.  Rather, it was deliberately planned so that a new 
theology could be constructed.  It was the first and most serious coffin-nail 
driven into the Church by Vatican II and its aftermath.

 It seems common in some traditional circles these days to underestimate 
the importance of  the Roman Catholic's Church's proper language.  Of course, 
all traditional Catholics understand that the Latin language must be retained in 
the Divine Office, the Holy Mass, and the Sacraments.  But one can never 
underestimate the importance of Latin in retaining the unadulterated doctrine of 

 The New Order Innovators knew full well that they could not foist their 
New Religion upon the Church if they used the traditional Latin.  Is it any 
wonder, then, that the first action they took after Vatican II was to introduce 
the vulgar tongues into the Church?

 Traditional Catholics should never underestimate the importance of Latin 
in the divine plan for the Roman Catholic Church.  They should learn it, at 
least to some degree, and fight for it.  Who could be considered a Jew without 
being able to read passages from the Torah?  Jews are proud to study their 
sacred language at Saturday schools.  Why are Catholics, even traditional 
Catholics, fail to do the same with their sacred language?

 Many Church writers, including the Franciscan Tertiary Dante Alighieri, 
tied the Latin language inextricably with the fate of the Church.  In more 
recent times, Pope Pius XII presciently warned in 1958:

 The day the Catholic Church gives up its Latin language is the day it 
 returns to the catacombs.

 Well, folks, wasn't the pope right?  Isn't traditional Catholicism back in 
the catacombs?  But remember that the Church rose victorious from the catacombs, 
as will true Catholicism.


Em.mus P.D. Iacobus Card. McIntyre
Archiepiscopus Angelorum in California

Em.me Praeses, Em.mi, Exc.mi et Rev.mi in Christo,

Hae animadversiones de lingua Liturgiae referuntur ad pag. 167 et par. 24.

Crescente imperio romano, universalis usus linguae latinae in occidente in sacra 
Ecclesiae Liturgia recte tribuitur sapientiae humanae et plus quam humanae. In 
hac re Providentia divina clare viam monstravit. In saeculo IV Concilia 
ecclesiastica formulaverunt doctrinas et Ecclesiae dogmata in praecisa 
terminologia latina. Facta saeculi IV ostendunt gravissimam rationem retinendi 
usum linguae latinae in sacra Liturgia et sacra theologia. Consideratio factorum
historiae multum valet in tempore praesenti. Conatus debilitandi soliditatem 
traditionis linguae latinae in his rebus catastrophen secumferunt. 
Fundamentaliter, lingua latina adoptata est quia Patres nostri bene 
intellexerunt naturam vere apostolicam Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae, atque eius 
universalitatem se extendentem ad omnes gentes.

Recte censuerunt talem universalitatem maxime serviri per commune medium 
communicandi. Certe lingua latina utilem ad hoc medium commune mirabiliter se 
demonstravit. Praeterea, doctrina Ecclesiae, per facta saeculi IV, praecisae 
sunt. Doctrinae tam definitae requirunt formulationem in lingua exacta, clara et 
immutabili, ubique comprehensa, vel saltem satis comprehensa a pluribus atque ab 
omnibus intellecta quia eis interpretatum est.

Lingua latina tale medium communicandi se ostendit. Effectibus mirabilibus iam 
operam dedit. Restrictiones nationalitatum superavit. In re politica neutri 
parti se adiunxit. Magna cum constantia in nostra epoca efficentia eius 

Adoptata lingua latina, lingua vere universalis evenit in occidentali, 
praesertim inter viros eruditos et litteratos. Habens structuram non vulgarem 
sed mathematicam, lingua latina primatum continuum adepta est, ac per omnia 
saecula perseverat. In rebus intellectualibus, in rebus litterariis et 
scientificis iam valde praestat.

Concilia priorum saeculorum dogmata Ecclesiae in lingua latina formulaverunt 
usque ad accommodandum et latine reddendum disputata vocabula graeca. Vehiculum 
dogmatis latina lingua semper fuit quia medium aptum accurate, definite et 
determinate cogitandi ac principia statuendi. Non solum disciplinis 
ecclesiasticis sed etiam lege civili et philosophia fideliter deservit. Si hoc 
instrumentum, tam aptum moderandi et firmandi, a sacra Liturgia eripitur, 
stabilitas dogmatum periclitatur. Sectae protestanticae linguae vulgari se 
converterunt et in factiones innumeras se dissolverunt.

Per multa saecula lingua latina sub tutela Ecclesiae stabilitatem magnificam 
exhibet. Fundamentum immutabilitatis est, et viris doctis pretiosum moderatorem 
colloquendi et scribendi praebet. Eo quod in forma originali lingua latina 
numquam evoluta est in linguam vulgarem, stabilitas eius et immutabilitas auctae 
sunt. Sane in omni tempore est lingua classica maxime eruditorum.

Memores tam historiae priorum saeculorum, tam necessitatum hodiernarum, rogo: 
ubi est iustificatio opinionis quae ad nutum, iterum dico ad nutum, vult mutare 
linguam venerabilem sacrae Liturgiae? Impugnatio in linguam latinam sacrae 
Liturgiae indirecte, sed vere, est impugnatio in stabilitatem sacrorum dogmatum, 
quia sacra Liturgia necessario importat dogmata.

Saeculis recentibus, etiam in America Septentrionali tam materialistica, 
incrementum Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae vere mirabile fuit, retenta sacra Liturgia 
in lingua latina. Conatus protestantismi deficiunt, et protestantismus lingua 
vulgari utitur. Iterum rogamus: quare mutatio, praesertim quando mutatio in hac 
re difficultates multas et pericula magna secumfert? Omnes in hoc Sacro Concilio
possumus in mentem revocare mutationes fundamentales in significatione verborum 
vulgarium usus hodierni. Deinde sequitur quod si sacra Liturgia in lingua 
vulgari sit, immutabilitas doctrinae periclitetur.

Annis recentibus tandem nationes ignotae se patefaciunt ac linguae novae et 
multae, nationum et tribuum, in notitiam omnium venerunt per associationem 
Nationum Unitarum.

Si linguae vulgares introducuntur, praevidemus interpretationes innumeras 
sacrorum dogmatum. Ut aeterna veritas doctrinae exprimatur, sacra dogmata 
significationem et formam pristinam immutabiliter retineantur!

Introductio linguae vulgaris debet separari ab actione sacrae Missae. Sancta 
Missa debet remanere ut est. Graves mutationes in liturgia introducunt graves 
mutationes in dogmata. Dixi.

[Acta Synodalia Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II]



Venerandi Patres Conciliares,

De lingua latina in sacra Liturgia.

Ne putetis me, utpote latinae linguae cultorem, nimium et exaggeratum
esse fautorem linguae latinae in omnibus ritibus sacrae Liturgiae.
Minime quidem; animo enim sum aperto ad intellegendas necessitates
nostrorum temporum. Quam brevissime possum, sententiam meam, hac de
re, vobis propono.

1. In Missae celebrationem, meo consilio, linguae nationales
inducendae non sunt, tum quia id afferre potest grave periculum et
damnum, tum quia id ipsum, quod omnes obtinere cupimus, hoc est maior
populi participatio eucharistico sacrificio, et maior intellegentia
audientium earum rerum quae a sacerdote leguntur, alio aptiore modo,
alio dico aptiore modo, obtineri potest.

Iam praeclarus vir Antonius Rosmini in suo libello « Le cinque piaghe
della Chiesa » (De quinque plagis Ecclesiae) asseveravit linguam
latinam diaphragma esse inter celebrantem et populum; sed libellus ab
Ecclesia iam reprobatus est. Ac non modo Concilium Tridentinum (Sess.
XXII, cap. 8, can. 9), sed etiam Romani Pontifices sanxerunt ut in
Ecclesia occidentali Missa celebraretur lingua latina, salvis semper
ceteris linguis liturgicis Ecclesiae orientalis... Memorare sufficiat
Litteras Encyclicas Pii XII, de sacra Liturgia; et recentissimam etiam
Constitutionem Apostolicam /Veterum Sapientia/ regnantis Pontificis.

2. Quod autem substituendo linguam latinam, vel partim, vel omnino in
linguas nationales id ipsum assequi non possumus, quod nonnulli
contendunt, facile probatur; non assequitur id quod optatur.

Etenim per simplicem et nudam lectionem, lingua nationali factam,
parum vel nihil intelligit populus, praesertim si agatur de rebus
difficilibus, ut v. g. de Epistula ad Hebraeos, de lectionibus Veteris
Testamenti, de libro Apocalypsis, etc.; quinimmo interdum,
adolescentibus potissimum, dubia et turbamenta animi praeberi possunt,
verbi gratia in lectione narrationis libidinosorum senum qui cum casta
Susanna misceri volunt, et in locutione « Laeva eius sub capite meo et
dextera illius amplexabitur me » (Cant. cantic. 2, 6; 8, 3). Quae
quidem recta commentatione indigent, non tantum nuda versione.

3. Quomodo ergo hoc diaphragma, quod reapse existit, tollere possumus
et hoc laudabile propositum assequi? Per homiliam vulgari lingua
habitam, per catechesim ad populum, qua omnia opportune explanentur et
ad intellegentiam populi accomodentur. Quod ceteroquin Summi
Pontifices iam sanxerunt ac saepe saepius commendarunt. Nuda vero
Sacrae Scripturae versio in linguas vulgares parum valet ad
intellegentiam populi et ad eius pietatem fovendam. Hac eadem de de
causa versiones Sacrarum Scripturarum sine opportunis annotationibus,
salem pro populo, ab Ecclesia non probantur.

Praeterea hodie in usu venit Missale in nationales linguas conversum.
Itemque, multo quidem laudabilius, in pluribus locis fit, ut dum
sacerdos lingua latina Missam celebrat, annuntiator quidam probatus
(anglica lingua, « speaker » dicitur) verba sacri ritus recitat
vulgari lingua, cum opportunis animadversionibus ad captum populi

Minime igitur necessarium est linguas nationales in Missae
celebrationem inducere, quod ceteroquin, ut proxime declarabo,
gravissimum potius detrimentum afferre potest.

4. Etenim id quod attingere quaeritur, hoc est maior intellegentia ex
parte populi, magis participatio, non modo hac ratione assequi non
possumus, sed etiam facile inducuntur pericula, discrimina,
contentiones in non paucis regionibus mixtae linguae.

Qua enim lingua, quae latina non sit, celebrabitur Missa, v. g. in
Alto Adige seu Subtirolo? Quanam in quibusdam urbibus Helvetiae ubi
tres linguae in usu sunt? Quanam in Canadia (vulgo Canada) ubi lingua
anglica et gallica in usu sunt? Quanam in partibus Belgicae nationis,
ubi pariter duae linguae habentur? Etc. ...

Profecto hac ratione timendum est ne nationalismus et contentiones
eius afferantur ad altare et inferantur in eucharisticum sacrificium,
quod quidem valde detrimentosum esse nemo est qui non videat; cum
contra lingua latina, ut Summi Pontifices asserunt, vinculum esse
debet unitatis; et si recte opportuneque, ut supra dixi, explanetur
per homilias et catechesim--quod omnino oportet et [quod] Summi
Pontifices statuerunt--sacri ritus a populo intellegi possunt.

Vos igitur appello, venerandi Patres, ut rem tanti momenti intento
consideretis animo, ne damnum Ecclesiae unitati inferatur.

5. Res diverso modo habetur, cum agitur de Sacramentis et de
Sacramentalibus. Etenim dum in publica Missae celebratione res agitur
inter populum et celebrantem, contra in quorumdam Sacramentorum
administratione res agitur vel inter sacerdotem et unum tantum fidelem
(ut in Confessione sacramentali), vel inter sacerdotem et paucos
fideles plerumque eiusdem linguae, ut in Baptismate, in Confirmatione,
in Unctione infirmorum, in Matrimonio et in sacramentalibus.

Iamvero in administrationem et in ritus quorumdam Sacramentorum, ut
dixi, induci possunt etiam linguae nationales, probante tamen
Apostolica Sede. Quod ceterum iam Pius XII iam scripsit, generali
modo, in Encyclicis Litteris de sacra Liturgia (A.A.S., vol. 39, p.

6. Mihi tamen opportunum esse videtur ut haec causa gravissima non
relinquatur singulis Conferentiis episcopalibus peculiarum regionum
(cap. 1, n. 24), sed statuatur modo unitario -- modo unitario -- pro
universa Ecclesia ab Apostolica Sede.

Etenim si res relinquitur inceptis et petionibus Conferentiarum
episcopalium, habebitur magna diversitas in variis regionibus, cum
detrimento unitatis ac fortasse cum babelica confusione; idque idcirco
etiam detrimentosum erit, cum hodie non modo catholici viri, sed
sacerdotes facile se conferant ex una ad alteram regionem, ex una ad
alteram nationem.

Haec habui, venerandi Patres, quae meditationi et prudentia vestrae
proponerem. Huc accedunt formulae quae meo quidem iudicio in hoc
schemate substituendae sunt.... [Oratio hic explet.]

[Acta Synodalia Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II]





VETERUM SAPIENTIA, in Graecorum Romanorumque inclusa litteris, itemque
clarissima antiquorum populorum monumenta doctrinae, quasi quaedam praenuntia 
aurora sunt habenda evangelicae veritatis, quam Filius Dei, gratiae 
disciplinaeque arbiter et magister, illuminator ac deductor generis humani,(1) 
his nuntiavit in terris. Ecclesiae enim Patres et Doctores, in praestantissimis 
vetustorum illorum temporum memoriis quandam agnoverunt
animorum praeparationem ad supernas suscipiendas divitias, quas Christus Iesus 
in dispensatione plenitudinis temporum(2) cum mortalibus communicavit; ex quo 
illud factum esse patet, ut in ordine rerum christianarum instaurato nibil sane 
perierit, quod verum, et iustum, et nobile, denique pulchrum ante acta saecula 

Quam ob rem Ecclesia sancta eius modi sapientiae documenta, et in primis Graecam 
Latinamque linguas, sapientiae ipsius auream quasi vestem, summo quidem honore 
coluit:  atque etiam venerandos sermones alios, qui in
orientis plagis floruerunt, quippe cum ad humani generis profectum, et ad mores 
conformandos haud parum valerent, in usum recepit; iidemque sive in religiosis 
caerimoniis sive in Sacrarum Scripturarum inter pretatione adhibiti, usque ad 
praesens tempus in quibusdam regionibus, perinde ac vivacis antiquitatis. 
numquam intermissae voces, viguerunt.

Quarum in varietate linguarum ea profecto eminet, quae primum in Latii finibus 
exorta, deinde postea mirum quantum ad christianum nomen in occidentis regiones 
disseminandum profecit. Siquidern non sine divino consilio illud evenit, ut qui 
sermo amplissimam gentium consortionem sub Romani Imperii auctoritate saecula 
plurima sociavisset, is et proprius
Apostolicae Sedis evaderet(3) et, posteritati servatus, cristianos Europae 
populos alios cum aliis arto unitatis vinculo coniungeret.

Suae enim sponte naturae lingua Latina ad provehendum apud populos quoslibet 
omnem humanitatis cultum est peraccommodata:  cum invidiam non commoveat, 
singulis gentibus se aequabilem praestet, nullius partibus faveat, omnibus 
postremo sit grata et amica. Neque hoc neglegatur oportet, in sermone Latino 
nobilem inesse conformationem et proprietatem; siquidem loquendi genus pressum, 
locuples, numerosum, maiestatis plenum et dignitatis(4) habet, quod unice et 
perspicuitati conducit et gravitati.

His de causis Apostolica Sedes nullo non tempore linguam Latinam studiose 
asservandam curavit eamque dignam existimavit, qua tamquam magnifica caelestis 
doctrinae sanctissimarumque legum veste(5) uteretur ipsa in sui exercitatione 
magisterii, eademque uterentur sacrorum administri. Hi namque ecclesiastici 
viri, ubicumque sunt gentium,
Romanorum sermone adhibito, quae sunt Sanctae Sedis promptius comperire possunt, 
atque cum ipsa et inter se expeditius habere commercium.

Eam igitur, adeo cum vita EccIesiae conexam, scientia et usu babere perceptam, 
non tam humanitatis et litterarum, quam religionis interest,(6) quemadmodum 
Decessor Noster imm. mem. Pius XI monuit, qui, rem ratione et
via persecutus, tres demonstravit huius linguae dotes, cum Ecelesiae natura mire 
congruentes:  Etenim EccIesia, ut quae et nationes omnes complexu suo contineat, 
et usque ad consummationem saeculorum sit permansura ..., sermonem suapte natura 
requirit universalem, immutabilem, non vulgarem.(7)

Nam cum ad EccIesiam Romanam necesse sit omnem convenire ecclesiam,(8) cumque 
Summi Pontifices potestatem habeant vere episcopalem, ordinariam et immediatam 
tum in omnes et singulas EccIesias, tum in omnes et singulos pastores et 
fideles(9) cuiusvis ritus, cuiusvis gentis, cuiusvis linguae, consentaneum 
omnino videtur ut mutui commercii instrumentum universale sit et aequabile, 
maxime inter Apostolicam Sedem et EccIesias, quae eodem ritu Latino utuntur. 
Itaque tum Romani Pontifices, si quid catholicas gentes docere volunt, tum 
Romanae Curiae Consilia, si qua negotia expediunt, si qua decreta conficiunt, ad 
universitatem fidelium spectantia, semper linguam Latinam haud secus usurpant, 
ac si materna vox ab innumeris gentibus accepta ea sit.

Neque solum universalis, sed etiam immutabilis lingua ab Ecclesia adhibita sit 
oportet. Si enim catholicae Ecclesiae veritates traderentur vel nonnullis vel 
multis ex mutabilibus linguis recentioribus, quarum nulla ceteris  auctoritate 
praestaret, sane ex eo consequeretur, ut hinc earum vis neque satis 
significanter neque satis dilucide, qua varietate eae sunt, omnibus
pateret; ut illinc nulla communis stabilisque norma haberetur, ad quam 
ceterarum. sensus esset expendendus. Re quidem ipsa, lingua Latina, iamdiu 
adversus varietates tuta, quas cotidiana populi consuetudo in vocabulorum
notionem inducere solet, fixa quidem.  Censenda est et immobilis; cum novae 
quorundam verborum Latinorum significationes, quas christianarum. doctrinarum 
progressio, explanatio, defensio postulaverunt, iamdudum firmae eae sint 

Cum denique catholica Ecclesia, utpote a Christo Domino condita, inter omnes 
humanas societates longe dignitate praestet, profecto decet eam lingua uti non 
vulgari, sed nobilitatis et maiestatis plena.

Praetereaque lingua Latina, quam dicere catholicam vere possumus,(10) utpote 
quae sit Apostolicae Sedis, omnium Ecclesiarum matris et magistrae, perpetuo usu 
consecrata, putanda est et thesaurus ... incomparandae praestantiae,(11) et 
quaedam quasi ianua, qua aditus omnibus patet ad ipsas christianas
veritates antiquitus acceptas et ecclesiasticae doctrinae monumen ta 
interpretanda;(12) et vinculum denique peridoneum, quo praesens
Ecciesiae aetas cum superioribus cumque futuris mirifice continetur.

Neque vero cuique in dubio esse potest, quin sive Romanorum sermoni sive 
honestis litteris ea vis insit, quae ad tenera adulescentium ingenia
erudienda et conformanda perquam apposita ducatur, quippe qua tum praecipuae 
mentis animique facultates exerceantur, maturescant, perficiantur; tum mentis 
sollertia acuatur iudicandique potestas; tum puerilis intellegentia aptius 
constituatur ad omnia recte complectenda et aestimanda; tum postremo summa 
ratione sive cogitare sive loqui discatur.

Quibus ex reputatis rebus sane intellegitur cur saepe et multum Romani 
Pontifices non solum linguae Latinae momentum praestantiamque in tanta laude 
posuerint, sed etiam. studium et usum sacris utriusque cleri administris
praeceperint, periculis denuntiatis ex eius neglegentia manantibus.

Iisdem igitur adducti causis gravissimis, quibus Decessores Nostri et Synodi 
Provinciales,(13) Nos quoque firma voluntate enitimur, ut huius linguae, in suam 
dignitatem restitutae, studium cultusque etiam atque etiam provehatur.  Cum enim 
nostris temporibus sermonis Romani usus multis locis in controversiam coeptus 
sit vocari, atque adeo plurimi quid Apostolica Sedes hac de re sentiat 
exquirant, in animum propterea induximus, opportunis normis gravi hoc documento 
editis, cavere ut vetus et numquam intermissa linguae Latinae retineatur 
consuetudo, et, sicubi prope exoIeverit, plane redintegretur.

Ceterum qui sit Nobismetipsis hac de re sensus, satis aperte, ut Nobis videtur, 
declaravimus, cum haec verba ad claros Latinitatis studiosos fecimus: Pro dolor, 
sunt sat multi, qui mira progressione artium abnormiter capti, Latinitatis 
studia et alias id genus disciplinas repellere vel coërcere sibi sumant ... Hac 
ipsa impellente necessitate, contrarium
prosequendum iter esse putamus. Cum prorsus in animo id insideat, quod magis 
natura et dignitate bominis dignum sit, ardentius acquirendum est id, quod 
animum colat et ornet, ne miseri mortales similiter ac eae, quas fabricantur, 
machinae, algidi, duri et amoris expertes exsistant.(14)

Quibus perspectis atque cogitate perpensis rebus, certa Nostri muneris 
conscientia et auctoritate haec, quae sequuntur, statuimus atque praecipimus.

l. Sacrorum Antistites et Ordinum, Religiosorum Summi Magistri parem dent 
operam, ut vel in suis Seminariis vel in suis Scholis, in quibus adulescentes ad 
sacerdotium instituantur hac in re Apostolicac Sedis voluntati studiose
obsequantur omnes, et hisce Nostris praescriptionibus diligentissime pareant.

2. Paterna iidem sollicitudine caveant, ne qui e sua dicione, novarum rerum 
studiosi, contra linguam Latinam sive in altioribus sacris disciplinis tradendis 
sive in sacris habendis ritibus usurpandam scribant, neve praeiudicata opinione 
Apostolicae Sedis voluntatem hac in re extenuent vel perperam interpretentur.

3. Quemadmodum sive Codicis luris Canonici (can. 1364) sive Decessorum Nostrorum 
praeceptis statuitur, sacrorum alumni, antequam studia proprie ecclesiastica 
inchoent, a peritissimis magistris apta via ac ratione
congruoque temporis spatio lingua Latina accuratissime imbuantur, hanc etiam ob 
causam, ne deinde, cum ad maiores disciplinas accesserint ... fiat ut prae 
sermonis inscitia plenam doctrinarum intellegentiam assequi non possint, nedum 
se exercere scholasticis illis disputationibus, quibus egregie iuvenum acuuntur 
ingenia ad defensionem veritatis.(15)  Quod ad eos quoque pertinere volumus, qui 
natu maiores ad sacra capessenda munia divinitus vocati,
humanitatis studiis vel nullam vel nimis tenuem, tradiderunt operam. Nemini enim 
faciendus est aditus ad Philosophicas vel theologicas disciplinas tractandas, 
nisi plane perfecteque hac lingua eruditus sit, eius que sit usu praeditus.

4. Sicubi autem, ob assimulatam studiorum rationem in publicis civitatis scholis 
obtinentem, de linguae Latinae cultu aliquatenus detractum sit, cum germanae 
firmaeque doctrinae detrimento, ibi tralaticium huius linguae
tradendae ordinem redintegrari omnino censemus; cum persuasum cuique esse 
debeat, hac etiam in re, sacrorum alumnorum institutionis rationem religiose 
esse tuendam, non tantum ad disciplinarum numerum et genera, sed etiam ad
earum docendarum temporis spatia quod attinet.  Quodsi, vel temporum vel locorum 
postulante cursu, ex necessitate aliae sint ad communes adiciendae disciplinae, 
tunc ea de causa aut studiorum porrigatur curriculum, aut disciplinae eaedem in 
breve cogantur, aut denique earum studium ad aliud reiciatur tempus.

5. Maiores sacraeque disciplinae, quemadmodum est saepius praescriptum,
tradendae sunt lingua Latina; quae ut plurium saeculorum usu cognitum habemus, 
aptissima existimatur ad difficillimas subtilissimasque
rerum formas et notiones valde commode et perspicue explicandas;(16) cum 
superquam quod propriis ea certisque vocabulis iampridem aucta sit, ad 
integritatem catholicae fidei tuendam accommodatis, etiam ad inanem
loquacitatem recidendam sit non mediocriter habilis. Quocirca qui sive in 
maximis Athenaeis, sive in Seminariis has profitentur disciplinas, et
Latine loqui tenentur, et libros, scholarum usui destinatos, lingua Latina 
scriptos adhibere.  Qui si ad hisce Sanctae Sedis praescriptionibus
parendum, prae linguae Latinae ignoratione, expediti ipsi non sint, in eorum 
locum doctores ad hoc idonei gradatim sufficiantur.  Difficultates vero, si quae 
vel ab alumnis vel a professoribus afferantur, hinc Antistiturn et Moderatorum 
constantia hinc bono doctorum animo eae vincantur necesse est.

6. Quoniam lingua Latina est lingua Ecclesiae viva, ad cotidie succrescentes 
sermonis necessitates comparanda, atque adeo novis iisque aptis et congruis 
ditanda vocabulis, ratione quidem aequabili, universali et cum veteris linguae 
Latinae ingenio consentanea - quam scilicet rationem et Sancti Patres et optimi 
scriptores, quos scholasticos vocant, secuti sunt - mandamus proptera S. 
Consilio Seminariis Studiorumque Universitatibus praeposito, ut

Huic Instituto, quo corpus Doctorum confletur oportet, linguis Latina et Graeca 
peritorum, ex variisque orbis partibus arcessitorum, illud
praecipue erit propositum, ut - haud secus atque singularum civitatum Academiae, 
suae cuiusque nationis linguae provehendae constitutae - simul
prospiciat congruenti linguae Latinae progressioni, lexico Latino, si opus sit, 
additis verbis cum eius indole et colore proprio convenientibus; simul scholas 
habeat de universa cuiusvis aetatis Latinitate, cum primis de christiana. In 
quibus scholis ad pleniorem linguae Latinae scientiam, ad eius usum, ad genus 
scribendi proprium et elegans ii informabuntur, qui vel ad linguam Latinam in 
Seminariis et Collegiis ecclesiasticis docendam, vel ad decreta et iudicia 
scribenda, vel ad epistolarum commercium exercendum in Consiliis Sanctae Sedis, 
in Curiis dioecesium, in Officiis Religiosorum Ordinum destinantur.

7. Cum autem lingua Latina sit cum Graeca quam maxime coniuncta et suae 
conformatione naturae et scriptorum pondere antiquitus traditorum, ad eam 
idcirco, ut saepe numero Decessores Nostri praeceperunt, necesse est
qui futuri sunt sacrorum administri iam ab inferioris et medii ordinis scholis 
instituantur; ut nempe, cum altioribus disciplinis operam dabunt, ac praesertim 
si aut de Sacris Scripturis aut de sacra theologia academicos gradus appetent, 
sit ipsis facultas, non modo fontes Graecos philosophiae scholasticae, quam 
appellant, sed ipsos Sacrarum Scripturarum, Liturgiae, Ss.
Patrum, Graecorum primiformes codices adeundi probeque intellegendi.(17)

8. Eidem praeterea Sacro Consilio mandamus, ut linguae Latinae docendae 
rationem, ab omnibus diligentissime servandam, paret, quam qui sequantur eiusdem 
sermonis iustam cognitionem et usum capiant.  Huiusmodi rationem, si res 
postulaverit, poterunt quidem Ordinariorum coetus aliter digerere, sed eius 
numquam immutare vel minuere naturam.  Verumtamen iidem Ordinarii consilia sua, 
nisi fuerint a Sacra Congregatione cognita et probata, ne sibi sumant efficere.

Extremum quae hac Nostra Constitutione statuimus, decrevimus, ediximus, 
mandavimus, rata ea omnia et firma consistere et permanere auctoritate Nostra 
Apostolica volumus et iubemus, contrariis quibuslibet non obstantibus,
etiam peculiari mentione dignis. 

Datum, Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die xxii mensis Februarii, Cathedrae S. Petri 
Ap. sacro, anno MDCCCCLXII, Pontificatus Nostri quarto.



(1) TERTULL., Apol. 21; MIGNE, PL 1, 394.
(2) Eph. 1, 10.
(3) Epist. S. Congr. Stud. Vebementer sane, ad Ep. universos, 1 iul. 1908: Encb. 
Cler., N. 820. Cf. etiam Epist. Ap. Pii XI, Unigenitus Dei Filius, 19 mar. 1924: 
A. A. S. 16 (1924), 141.
(4) Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 aug. 1922: A. A. S. 14 (1922), 452-
(5) Pius XI, Motu Proprio Litterarum Latinarum, 20 oct. 1924: A. A. S. 16 
(1924), 417.
(6) Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 aug. 1922: A. A. S. 14 (1922), 452.
(7) Ibidem.
(8) S. IREN, Adv. Haer. 3, 3, 2; MIGNE, PG 7, 848.
(9) Cfr. C. I. C, can. 218, § 2.
(10) Cfr. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 aug. 1922: A. A. S. 14 
(1922), 453.
(11) Pius XII, Alloc. Magis quam, 23 nov. 1951: A. A. S. 43 (1951), 737.
(12) LEO XIII, Epist. Encycl. Depuis le jour, 8 sept. 1899: Acta Leonis XIII 19 
(1899), 166.
(13) Cfr. Collectio Lacensis, praesertim: vol. III, 1018 s. (Conc. Prov. 
Westmonasteriense, a. 1859); vol. IV, 29 (Conc. Prov. Parisiense, a. 1849); vol. 
IV, 149, 153 (Conc. Prov. Rhemense, a. 1849); vol. IV, 359, 361 (Conc.
Prov. Avenionense, a. 1849); vol. IV, 394, 396 (Conc. Prov. Burdigalense, a. 
1850); vol. V, 61 (Conc. Stagoniense, a. 1858); vol. V, 664 (Conc. Prov. 
Colocense, a. 1863); vol. VI, 619 (Synod. Vicariatus Suchnensis, a. 1803).
(14) Ad Conventum internat. « Ciceronianis Studiis provehendis », 7 sept. 1959; 
in Discorsi Messaggi Colloqui del Santo Padre GIOVANNI XXIII, I, pp. 234-235; 
cf. etiam Alloc. ad cives dioecesis Placentinae Romam
peregrinantes habita, 15 apr. 1959: L'Osservatore Romano, 16 apr. 1959; Epist. 
Pater misericordiarum, 22 aug. 1961: A. A. S. 53 (1961), 677; Alloc. in sollemni 
auspicatione Collegii Insularum Philippinarum de Urbe habita,
7 oct. 1961. L'Osservatore Romano, 9-10 oct. 1961; Epist. lucunda laudatio, 8 
dec. 1961: A. A. S. 53 (1961), 812.
(15) Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 aug. 1922: A. A, S. 14 (1922), 
(16) Epist. S. C. Studiorum, Vehementer sane, 1.11.1908: Ench. Cler, n. 821.
(17) LEO XIII, Litt. Encycl. Providentissimus Deus, 18 nov. 1893: Acta Leonis 
XIII, 13
(1893), 342; Epist. Plane quidem intelligis, 20 maii 1885, Acta, 5, 63-64; Pius 
XII, Alloc. Magis quam, 23 sept. 1951: A. A. S. 43 (1951), 737. 



Of His Holiness John XXIII
Pope by Divine Providence

John, Bishop
Servant of the Servants of God
For a Perpetual Remembrance

[Part I]


[1. The Church's Heritage]

[1] THE WISDOM OF THE ANCIENT WORLD, enshrined in Greek and Roman 
literature, and the truly memorable teaching of ancient peoples, served, 
surely, to herald the dawn of that gospel which God's Son, ^Ìthe judge 
and teacher of grace and truth, the light and guide of the human race', 
1 proclaimed on earth.

Such, at any rate, was the view of the Church's Fathers and Doctors. In 
these outstanding literary monuments of antiquity they recognized man's 
spiritual preparation for the supernatural riches which Jesus Christ 
communicated to mankind 'to give history its fulfilment'. 2

Thus the inauguration of Christianity did not mean the obliteration of 
man's past achievements. Nothing was lost that was in any way true, 
right, noble, and beautiful.

[2] The Church has ever held the literary evidences of this wisdom in 
the highest esteem. She values especially the Greek and Latin languages, 
in which wisdom itself is cloaked, as it were, in a vesture of gold. She 
has likewise welcomed the use of other venerable languages, which 
flourished in the East, for these too have had no little influence on 
the progress of humanity and civilization. By their use in sacred 
liturgies and versions of Holy Scripture they have remained in force in 
certain regions even to the present day, bearing constant witness to the 
living voice of antiquity.

[3] But amid this variety of languages a primary place must surely be 
given to that language which had its origins in Latium and later proved 
so admirable a means for the spreading of Christianity throughout the 
West. And since in God's special providence this language united so many 
nations together under the authority of the Roman Empire - and that for 
so many centuries - it also became the rightful language of the 
Apostolic See. 3 It was thus preserved for posterity and was 
instrumental in joining the Christian peoples of Europe together in the 
close bonds of unity.

[2. The cultural value of Latin]

[4]. Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form 
of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not 
favour any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to 
all, and is equally acceptable to all.

Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin's formal 
structure. Its 'concise, varied, and harmonious style, full of majesty 
and dignity', 4 makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of 

[3. Its religious value]

[5] For these reasons the Apostolic See has always been at pains to 
preserve Latin, deeming it worthy of being used in the exercise of her 
teaching authority 'as the splendid vesture of her heavenly doctrine and 
sacred laws'.6 She further requires her sacred ministers to use it, for 
by so doing they are the better able, wherever they may be, to acquaint 
themselves with the mind of the Holy See on any matter, and communicate 
the more easily with Rome and with one another.

[6] Thus the 'knowledge and use of this language', so intimately bound 
up with the Church's life, 'is important not so much on cultural or 
literary grounds as for religious reasons'.6 These are the words of Our 
Predecessor, Pius XI, who conducted a scientific enquiry into this whole 
subject and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which 
harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church's nature. 'For the 
Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to 
endure until the end of time ... of its very nature requires a language 
which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular.' 7

[4. The Church's living language]
[(a) Universal]

[7] Since 'every Church must assemble round the Roman Church'. 8 and 
since the Supreme Pontiffs have 'true episcopal power, ordinary and 
immediate, over each and every Church and over each and every Pastor, as 
well as over the faithful' 9 of every rite and every language, it seems 
particularly desirable that the instrument of mutual communication be 
uniform and universal, especially between the Apostolic See and the 
Churches which use the same Latin rite.

When, therefore, the Roman Pontiffs wish to instruct the Catholic world, 
or the Congregations of the Roman Curia handle affairs or draw up 
decrees which concern the whole body of the faithful, they invariably 
make use of Latin, for this is the 'mother tongue' acceptable to 
countless nations.

[(b) Immutable]

[8] Furthermore, the Church's language must be not only universal but 
also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one 
of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of 
the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the 
meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to 
everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, 
be no language that could serve as a common and constant norm by which 
to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. It has 
long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of 
words which are the normal result of daily, popular use. Certain Latin 
words, it is true, acquired new meanings as Christian teaching developed 
and needed to be explained and defended, but these new meanings have 
long since become accepted and firmly established.

[(c) Non-vernacular]

[9] Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of 
every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is 
altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble 
and majestic, and non-vernacular.

[5. Other advantages of Latin: its educational value]

[10] In addition, the Latin language 'can be called truly Catholic'. 10 
It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the 
mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed 'e treasure . . 
. of incomparable worth'. 11 It is a general passport to the proper 
understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of 
the Church's teaching. 12 It is also a most effective bond, binding the 
Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful 

[11] There can be no doubt as to the formative and educational 1 value 
of the language of the Romans and of great literature generally. It is a 
most effective training for the pliant minds of youth. It exercises, 
matures and perfects the principal faculties of mind and spirit. It 
sharpens the wits and gives keenness of judgment. It helps the young 
mind to grasp things accurately, and develop a true sense of values. It 
is also a means for teaching highly intelligent thought and speech.

[6. The Church's policy with regard to Latin]

[12] It will be quite clear from these considerations why the Roman 
Pontiffs have so often extolled the excellence and importance of Latin, 
and why they have prescribed its study and use by the secular and 
regular clergy, forecasting the dangers that would result from its 

[13] And We also, impelled by the weightiest of reasons - the same as 
those which prompted Our Predecessors and provincial synods 13 - are 
fully determined to restore this language to its position of honour and 
to do all We can to promote its study and use. The employment of Latin 
has recently been contested in some quarters, and many are asking what 
the mind of the Apostolic See is in this matter. We have therefore 
decided to issue the timely directives contained in this document, so as 
to ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained 
and, where necessary, restored.

[14] It seems to Us We made Our own views on this subject sufficiently 
plain in Our address to some eminent Latin scholars. 'It is a matter of 
regret', We said, 'that so many people, unaccountably dazzled by the 
marvellous progress of science, are taking it upon themselves to oust or 
restrict the study of Latin and other kindred subjects ... Yet in spite 
of the urgent need for science, Our own view is that the very contrary 
policy should be followed. The greatest impression is made on the mind 
by those things which correspond more closely to man's nature and 
dignity, and therefore the greater zeal should be shown in the 
acquisition of whatever educates and enobles the mind. Otherwise poor 
mortal creatures may well become like the machines they build - cold, 
hard, and devoid of love'. 14



[15] With the foregoing considerations in mind, to which We have given 
careful thought, We now, in the full consciousness of Our office and in 
virtue of Our authority, decree and command the following:

 1. Bishops and superiors-general of religious orders shall be at 
pains to ensure that in their seminaries, and in their schools where 
adolescents are trained for the priesthood, all shall studiously observe 
the Apostolic See's decision in this matter and obey these Our 
prescriptions most carefully.

 2. In the exercise of their paternal care they shall be on their 
guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction, being eager for innovation 
(novarum rerum studios), writes against the use of Latin in the 
teaching of the higher sacred studies or in the liturgy, or through 
prejudice makes light of the Holy See's will in this regard or 
interprets it fa1sely.

 3. As is laid down in Canon Law (can. 1364) or commanded by Our 
Predecessors, before Church students begin their ecclesiastica1 studies 
proper they shall be given a sufficiently lengthy course of instruction 
in Latin by highly competent masters following a method designed to 
teach them the language with the utmost accuracy. 'And that too for this 
reason: lest later on, when they begin their major studies ... they are 
unable by reason of their ignorance of the language to gain a full 
understanding of the doctrines or take part in those scholastic 
disputations which constitute so excellent an intellectual training for 
young men in the defence of the faith.' 15

 We wish the same rule to apply to those whom God calls to the 
priesthood later on in life and whose classical studies have either been 
neglected or conducted too superficially.  No one is to be admitted to 
the study of philosophy or theology except he be thoroughly and 
perfectly grounded in this language and capable of using it.

 4. Wherever the study of Latin has suffered partial eclipse 
through the assimilation of the academic programme to that which obtains 
in State schools, with the result that the instruction given is no 
longer so thorough and well grounded as formerly, there the traditional 
method of teaching this language shall be completely restored. Such is 
Our will, for there should be no doubt in anyone's mind about the 
necessity of keeping a strict watch over the course of studies followed 
by Church students; and that not only as regards the number and kind of 
subjects they study, but also as regards the length of time devoted to 
the teaching of these subjects.

 Should circumstances of time and place demand the addition of 
other subjects to the curriculum besides the usual ones, then either the 
course of studies must be lengthened, or these additional subjects must 
be condensed or their study relegated to another time.

 5. In accordance with numerous previous instructions, the major 
sacred sciences shall be taught in Latin, which, as we know from many 
centuries of use, 'must be considered most suitable for explaining with 
the utmost facility and clarity the most difficult and profound ideas 
and concepts'. 16 For apart from the fact that it has long since been 
enriched with a vocabulary of appropriate and unequivocal terms best 
calculated to safeguard the integrity of the Catholic faith, it also 
serves in no slight measure to prune away useless verbiage.

 Hence the professors of these sciences in universities or 
seminaries are required to speak Latin and to make use of textbooks 
written in Latin. Those whose ignorance of Latin makes it difficult for 
them to obey these instructions shall gradually be replaced by 
professors who are suited to this task. Any difficulties that may be 
advanced by students or professors must be overcome either by the 
patient insistence of the bishops or religious superiors, or by the good 
will of the professors.

 6. Since Latin is the Church's living language, it must be 
adequate to daily increasing linguistic requirements. It must be 
furnished with new words that are apt and suitable for expressing modern 
things, words that will be uniform and universal in their application 
and constructed in conformity with the genius of the ancient Latin 
tongue. Such was the method followed by the sacred Fathers and the best 
scholastic writers. To this end, therefore, We commission the Sacred 
Congregation of Seminaries and Universities to set up a Latin Academy 
staffed by an international body of competent Latin and Greek 
professors. The principal aim of this Academy - like the national 
academies founded to promote their respective languages - will be to 
superintend the proper development of Latin, augmenting the Latin 
lexicon where necessary with words which conform to the particular 
character and colour of the language.

 It will also conduct schools for the study of Latin of every era, 
particularly the Christian one. The aim of these schools will be to 
impart a fuller understanding of Latin and the ability to use it and to 
write it with proper elegance. They will exist for those who are 
destined to teach Latin in seminaries and ecclesiastical colleges, or to 
write decrees and judgments or conduct correspondence in the ministries 
of the Holy See, diocesan curias, and the offices of religious orders.

 7. Latin is closely allied to Greek both in formal structure and 
the importance of its extant writings. Hence - as Our Predecessors have 
frequently ordained - future ministers of the altar must be instructed 
in Greek in the lower and middle schools. Thus, when they come to study 
the higher sciences - and especially if they are aiming for a degree in 
Sacred Scripture or.theology - they will be enabled to follow the Greek 
sources of scholastic philosophy and understand them correctly; and not 
only these, but also the original texts of Sacred Scripture, the 
liturgy, and the sacred Greek Fathers. 17

 8. We further commission the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and 
Universities to prepare a syllabus for the teaching of Latin which all 
shall faithfully observe. The syllabus will be designed to give those 
who follow it an adequate understanding of the language and its use. 
Bishops in conference may indeed rearrange this syllabus if 
circumstances warrant, but they must never curtail it or alter its 
nature. Ordinaries may not take it upon themselves to put their own 
proposals into effect until these have been examined and approved by the 
Sacred Congregation.

[16] Finally, in virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, We will and command 
that all the decisions, decrees, proclamations and recommendations of 
this Our Constitution remain firmly established and ratified, 
notwithstanding anything to the contrary however worthy of special note.

Given at Rome, at St Peter's, on the feast of St.Peter's Throne, on the 
22nd day of February, in the year 1962, the fourth of Our Pontificate.



1. Tertullian, ApoL 21; MIgne, P.L. I, p.394.

2. Eph. 1:10.

3. Epist. S. Cong. Stud. Vehementer sane, ad Ep. universos, 1 July 1908; 
Ench. Cler., N. 820. Cf. also Epist. Ap. Pii XI, Unigenitus Dei Filius, 
19 Mar. 1924; A.A.S. xvi (1924), p.l41.

4. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 Aug. 1922; A.A.S. XIV 
(1922), pp. 452-453.

5. Pius XI, Motu Proprio Litterarum latinarum 20 Oct. 1924; A.A.S. XVI 
(1924), p.417.

6. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 Aug. 1922; A.A.S. XIV
(1922), p.452.

7. Ibid.

8. St Iren., Adv. Haer. 3, 3, 2; Migne, P.G. VII, p.848.

9. Cf. C.I.C., can. 218, sec. 2.

10. Cf. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 Aug. 1922; A.A.S. XIV 
(1922), p. 453.

11. Pius XII Alloc. Magis quam, 23 Nov. 1951, A.A.S. XLIII (1951), 
p. 737.

12. Leo XIII, Epist. Encycl. Depuis le jour, 8 Sept. 1899, Acta Leonis 
XIII, XIX (1899), p. 166.

13. Cf. Collectio Lacensis, especially: vol. III, p. 1018. (Conc. Prov. 
Westmonasteriense, a. 1859); vol. IV, p. 29 (Cone. Prov. Parisiense, a. 
1849) vol. IV, pp. l49, 153 (Col. Prov. Rhemense, a. 1849); vol. IV, pp. 
359, 36; (Cone. Prov. Avenionense, a. 1849); vol. IV, pp. 394, 396 (Cone. Prov. 
Burdigalense, a. 1850); vol. V, p.61 (Cone. Strigoniense, a. 1858); vol. V, p. 
664 (Cone. Prov. Colocense, a. 1863); vol. VI, p.619 (Synod. Vicariatus 
Suchnensis, a. 1803).

14. International Convention for the Promotion of Ciceronian Studies, 7 
Sept. 1959, in Discorsi Messaggi Collogui of the Holy Father John XXIII, 
I, pp. 234; cf. also Address to Roman pilgrims of the Diocese of 
Piacenza, 15 April 1959: L'Osservatore Rom., 16 April 1959; Epist. Pater 
misericordiarum, 22 Aug. 1961, A.A.S. LIII (1961), p. 677; Address given 
on the occasion of the solemn inauguration of the College of the 
Philippine Islands at Rome, 7 Oct. 1961: L'Osservatore Rom. 9-10 Oct. 
1961; Epist. Iucunda laudatio, 8 Dec. 1961: A.A.S. LIII (1961, p.812.

15. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 Aug. 1922, A.A.S. XIV 
(1922), p. 453.

16. Epist. S. C. Studiorum, Vehementer sane, 1 July 1908; Ench. Cler., 
n. 821.

17. Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Providentissimus Deus, 18 Nov. 1893, Acta 
Leonis XIII, XIII (1893), p. 342, Epist. Plane quidem intelligis, 20 May 
1885, Acta Leonis XIII, V, pp. 63-64, Pius XII, Alloc. Magis quam, 23 
Sept. 1951, A.A.S. XLIII (1951), p. 737.


Egomet ipse praesens adfui sat proxime stans proper altare S. Petri in Basilica 
Vaticana cum ipse Ioannes Pp. XXIII hoc documentum Veterum Sapienia publici 
iuris fecit.  Et res ita accidit:

 Tota Basilica Vaticana ingenti multitudine fidelium repleta, 
Summus Pontifex ingressus est et sermonem habuit praeclarum quo momentum et 
valorem huius documenti (Veterum Sapientia) sat fuse et abundanter audientibus 
explicavit et inter cetera hoc quoque dixit:

 "Ne postea dici possit hunc Summum Pontificem iam aetate provectum non 
bene intellexisse quali documento nomen suum subscribendo apposuisset, sed 
tantummodo subscripsisse, quia alii hoc documentum illi ad subscribendum 
dedereunt, Ego vobis dico me scire quid nunc subscribam et me quod in documento 
scriptum est re vera velle et propeterea hoc documentum coram omnibus vobis in 
hoc altari Sancti Petri sollemniter subscribam."

 Et coram omnibus nobis, me -- ut dixi -- sat proxime adstante, documentum 

 Hoc est historice certum, quia ante tot testes public factum est.

 [I myself was present, standing very closely to the altar of St. Peter in 
the Vatican Basilica when Pope John XXIII enacted this document, "Veterum 
Sapientia," as a public law.  And the event occurred as follows:

 [The whole Vatican Basilica was full of a large crowd of the 
Faithful.  The Supreme Pontiff entered and gave an outstanding sermon
by which he explained at length and in detail to the audience the importance and 
weightiness of this document ("Veterum Sapientia"), and among other things said 
the following too:

 ["Lest afterwards it may be said that this Supreme Pontiff,
now advanced in age, has not well understood what kind of document
he has enacted by signing his name, but has signed it only because 
others gave this document to him for his signature, I say to you that I 
know what I was signing and I willed in truth what was written in the
document, and consequently I solemnly signed this document before you 
all on this altar of St. Peter."

 [And before all of us, while I -- as I said -- stood very closely 
by, he signed the document.

 [This is historicaly certain, because it was done publicly before 
so many witnesses.]  --Fr. Suitbertus a S. Ioanne a Cruce (Germanicus), Letter 
of September 15, 1998, to the Familia Sancti Hieronymi


By Veterum Sapientia John XXIII wanted to bring about a return
of the Church to its own principles....

The Pope attributed a very special importance to the document, and
the solemnities with which he surrounded its promulgation in St.
Peter's, on the Confession, or Tomb, of St. Peter, in the presence of the 
cardinals and of the whole Roman clergy, are unique in the history of the 
present century.  The outstanding importance of Veterum Sapientia ... comes from  
its perfect conformity with the historic reality which is the Church.

The encyclical is above all an affirmation of continuity.  The Roman
Church is Latin from the middle of the third century .... a continuity 
internal to the Church whereby all its ages are bound together....
[W]e cannot ignore the teaching of the Greek and Latin Fathers ...
according to which there is a continuity between the world of thought
in which the wisdom of the ancients lived, veterum sapientia, and the
world of thought elaborated after the revelation of the Incarnate 

Thus the classical world is not extraneous to Christianity....  
Christianity is ... in harmony with ... the ancient culture....  St. 
Augustine ... asserts this continuity in an abrupt and all-embracing
fashion, straddling centuries and forms of worship:  Nam res ipsa,
quae nunc christiana religio nuncupatur, erat apud antiquos nec
defuit ab initio generis humani [The thing which is now called 
the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and has never
been lacking since the beginning of the human race]....

The practical and disciplinary section of Veterum Sapientia 
is as crystal clear as its doctrine....  It lays down that in seminaries 
the fundamental subjects such as dogmatic and moral theology
should be taught in Latin from Latin textbooks, and that if there 
were any teachers who were unable or unwilling to use Latin, they
should be replaced within a reasonable period....  [T]he Pope decreed
the establishment of a Higher Latin Institute, designed to train
Latinists for the Catholic world at large, and to bring out a dictionary 
of modern Latin....                                                           

Veterum Sapientia ... was completely wiped from memory and is
not cited in any conciliar document.  Some biographies of John XXIII 
do not mention it at all....  


Fr Hesse: The New Mass is the Foundation of a New Faith & New Church