Living Language of the Church

“Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek”.

John 19:19-20; RSV-1CE

“Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites”.

“[S]teps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them”.

~ Second Vatican Council
Sacrosanctum Concilium, nn. 36.1 & 54

“The Latin language has always been held in very high esteem by the Catholic Church and by the Roman Pontiffs. They have assiduously encouraged the knowledge and dissemination of Latin, adopting it as the Church’s language, capable of passing on the Gospel message throughout the world. This is authoritatively stated by the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia of my Predecessor, Blessed John XXIII.

“It therefore appears urgently necessary to support the commitment to a greater knowledge and more competent use of Latin, both in the ecclesial context and in the broader world of culture”.

~ Pope Benedict XVI
Apostolic Letter Lingua LAtina, nn. 1 & 4

“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’ 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 St. John Paul II 
Allocution Libenter vos salutamus
27 November 1978

“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 St. Paul VI
Apostolic Letter Sacrificium Laudis
15 August 1966

“The Latin language ‘can be called truly catholic’. It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed ‘a treasure… of incomparable worth’. …It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity”.

“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”.

~ Pope St. John XXIII
Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia
22 February 1962

“The use of the Latin language, customary in a considerable portion of the Church, is a manifest and beautiful sign of unity, as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrinal truth”. 

~ Pope Pius XII
Encyclical Letter MEdiator Dei, n. 60
20 November 1947

“For the Church, since it contains all nations in its embrace, since it is going to endure until the consummation of the ages, and since it utterly excludes the common people from its governance, requires by its own nature a universal language, unchangeable, not that of the common people”.

“Since Latin is such a language, it was divinely foreseen that it should be something marvellously useful for the Church as teacher… that they might easily compare the respective thoughts and insights of their minds, but also – and this is even more important – something with which they might understand more profoundly the things of mother Church, and might be united more closely with the head of the Church”.

~ Pope Pius XI
Apostolic Letter Officiorum Omnium
1 August 1922