Classical Latin

May a priest celebrate the sacred Liturgy in Latin with Classical Latin pronunciation (as opposed to Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation)?

Has any Church document ever addresed this issue?

I don’t think any Church document has dealt with that issue, but I would ask, why? I personally think the Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciations are better, if for no other reason than they are more similar to languages we are somewhat used to, like Spanish or Italian.

The reason I ask is because I am intending to enter the seminary when I have finished my university studies majoring in Classical Latin.

It’s quite easy to change between speaking with the Classical and Ecclesiastical pronunciations, but the Classical pronunciation does get ingrained a bit.

The reason I ask is because I am intending to enter the seminary when I have finished my university studies majoring in Classical Latin.

Good deal. I am also going into the seminary after I graduate from the U.

It’s quite easy to change between speaking with the Classical and Ecclesiastical pronunciations, but the Classical pronunciation does get ingrained a bit.

I’ll have to take your word for it, as I only took a semester of Classical Latin and I doggedly refused to be corrupted by the primitive pronunciation :wink: .

I would think (and I claim no authority on the matter) that Mass should be said in Ecclesiastical Latin because that’s “our” Latin so to say.

A priest who used classical pronunciation would be exhibiting an embarrassing affectation. There is in fact an official Vatican pronunciation guide, which I have only seen at the beginning of the Liber Usualis, meaning that the version I have seen is many years old.

However, in Germany they maintain the peculiar custom regarding a soft c which they pronounce like ts and still pronounce magnum as mag-num instead of ma-nyum. Apparently they have always done that and no one objects. Believe, me, and the pope is a great example, German priests who still use it at all know their Latin and pronounce it elegantly, as do the congregations when singing the ordinary, which in Germany is still, well, ordinarily in Latin. I thank my lucky stars that I am both a musician and long ago had the ordinary memorized, and on top of that knew how the Germans pronounce things before I got here. If I only had the churching available in the US in the last 40 years, I would not know what was going on.

I don’t know where the original poster comes from, but I would also not err on the other side of pronouncing the Latin like a typical American priest. I still have memories of priests muttering their way through what we are pleased to call the Traditional Latin Mass without regard for care in pronunciation. In particular the peculiar American way of sounding the consonant “r” makes me shudder when people trying to say something in Latin use it. There was a mentality in the US that it was “sissy” for a priest to strive for a properly continental pronunciation. Besides, it might make the Mass last more than 20 minutes and then people would start to complain.

[quote=Trevelyan]May a priest celebrate the sacred Liturgy in Latin with Classical Latin pronunciation (as opposed to Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation)?

Has any Church document ever addresed this issue?
[/quote]

Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., the editor of Homiletic and Pastoral Review says the Tridentine Mass with Classical Latin pronunciation.

[quote=Trevelyan]The reason I ask is because I am intending to enter the seminary when I have finished my university studies majoring in Classical Latin.

It’s quite easy to change between speaking with the Classical and Ecclesiastical pronunciations, but the Classical pronunciation does get ingrained a bit.
[/quote]

I don’t think it really matters- though I personally prefer Ecclesiastical Latin.

this issue was often hotly debated in ecclesiastic and academic circles when the study of Latin was still considered the cornerstone of liturgy as well as liberal education. New methods of translation, pronunciation and teaching rocked the academic world a little over 100 years ago (Goodby Mr. Chips makes a reference to this change in tecahing styles). Listening to chant and taize CDs recorded by monks in various countries, I do notice pronunciation differences say between the Spanish and Germans. I have trouble separating Spanish and Latin in Mass prayers (I have the same trouble with Spanish and French in trying so speak Spanish in Mexico, they probably figure I speak so badly because I am Texan).

[quote=Trevelyan]May a priest celebrate the sacred Liturgy in Latin with Classical Latin pronunciation (as opposed to Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation)?

Has any Church document ever addresed this issue?
[/quote]

Although, I do not know if the Church has officially spoken on this topic, I will say that it makes sense to use the Ecclesiastical Latin because it is most proper and most correct. Ecclesiastical Latin is what the Church has always used. While Classical Latin may be good, Ecclesiastical Latin is best. We should always strive to do the Best thing in everything we do.

Don’t worry about having difficult change over from one form to the other. While you are in seminary, you will have enough practice that the Ecclesiastical Latin will become second nature.

Good luck in the seminary.

[quote=NeelyAnn]Don’t worry about having difficult change over from one form to the other. While you are in seminary, you will have enough practice that the Ecclesiastical Latin will become second nature.

[/quote]

I do not want to speak for Trevelyan, but I imagine what he meant was that he liked the classical pronunciation and would prefer to use it, not that he would have difficulty switching. Using myself as an example, I have no problem switching between classical and ecclesiastical and even the German variant, and at gunpoint could force myself to pronounce it like a typical American.

The man did not say where he was planning on going to seminary. Most seminaries these days pay lips service to Latin at best. One is lucky if he learns his “Dominus” from his “vobiscum.” In the old days, classes were actually taught in Latin and it was the required language of conversation between students and professors, and even in other contexts apart from purely recreational. How well this was ever carried out in the US I cannot say except to make assumptions from the results that we usually got, but in Europe, it was held to very strictly, which is one reason why the popes up until now and including the last one and the current one have been formidable Latinists (the flip side being that there aren’t many such left in the College of Cardinals).

If there are traditional seminaries around in communion with Rome that still adhere to this strict standard, I hope Trevelyan finds one. He can probably teach them a thing or two. But they really have to be dedicated to Latin, not just producing priests who can pass a motormouth test but don’t understand a word of what they are saying. It is an immense commitment, and always has been.

Vale, Trev

[quote=jbuck919]If there are traditional seminaries around in communion with Rome that still adhere to this strict standard, I hope Trevelyan finds one. He can probably teach them a thing or two. But they really have to be dedicated to Latin, not just producing priests who can pass a motormouth test but don’t understand a word of what they are saying. It is an immense commitment, and always has been.

Vale, Trev
[/quote]

You may be right, perhaps Trevelyan was asking because Classical Latin is his preference. When I read his second remark as to why he was asking, I read it as him being concerned that he might mistakenly use the Classical Latin pronunciation at times.

I am also aware of what you say about Latin in the seminaries these days, especially the US. Again, I made an assumption here. I assumed he was probably going to a seminary that was dedicated to Latin because it probably would not matter what Latin he used if he did not. Although, I have heard recently that several Catholic seminaries in the US have become more interested in Latin since the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

There are plenty of traditional seminaries in union with Rome. The Fraternity of St. Peter’s and Institute of Christ the King are two good ones. I believe the Society of St. John Cantius also has a seminary. If you go to Europe, you can also find several others.

I would urge the revival of the Legal pronunciation of Latin. Since it has almost entirely died out and is unfamiliar to even most Latin scholars, it would present an opportunity to use an accepted pronunciation of Latin that would not take a position on the philological v. italianate pronunciations controversy.

I believe that would be an appropriate interpretation of the VII mandate to preserve Latin - all in the Spirit of VII. Then if no one understood the Latin or no one could properly pronounce it - well that would validate all those anti-Latin folks out there.

Come on folks - you use the italianate pronunciation because that is what is used by the Church. That there may be minor variations from one country to another is interesting as trivia. If a mistake is made - well that’s a mistake. No more, no less.

Thanks for all the responses :thumbsup:

I live in Queensland, Australia and I am definitely intending to enter a non-“trditionalist” seminary (which would not teach a lot of Latin). My definite preference is for the Novus Ordo.

It’s interesting to hear that Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. uses Classical pronunciation - that’s quite a precedent.

Ecclesiastical Latin was originaly just the pronunciation in the vernacular accent, untill a reform was (attempted?) to make it uniform & just the way it was pronounced in Rome. (I don’t know the dates of all this). [As for English! God help us Australians if we had to use “Queen’s English”; the Texan drawl is acceptable too (And t’anks be to God for all our Irish priests :wink: ].

As far as I can gather, it seems that no church rules are in force anymore regarding Latin pronunciation. (?)

“Dominus 'w’obiscum”.

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