Does the Catholic Church have an 'official' way for people to learn Latin?


Maybe for the priests…?


Priests study Latin in seminary. But, nowadays, it’s mostly a formality, unfortunately. it isn’t taken serious by many professors, nor seminarians.
As for an official study program, step-by-step, I don’t think there is. It is left to the professor to decide the best way to teach this subject.
In the old days, about 60-70 years ago, the courses of the seminary were all in Latin. You were given a two weeks crash course, and off you went. That didn’t mean that you didn’t study it further, but the basics were set quite rapidly.


It could probably help if you asked the question this way: “Is there an official way for the Church to teach Greek? or Spanish? or French? or English?” See what I mean? The Church doesn’t sit back and make arbitrary rules such as one governing the learning of Latin or any other language.

If you want to learn Latin, go for it. I’ve seen courses in which there is a split of sorts, between Ecclesial Latin and Classical Latin. perhaps that is what you mean? If so there are books available for both. Most cover Classical Latin.



As an aside…I don’t know whether it is true or not, but I read somewhere that there is an ATM inside the Vatican and the instructions on the screen are in Latin!:eek:


It’s true.

I tried to use it one day, but it would not accept my PIN.

I kept typing it…


but it just wouldn’t take it.



There is no “official” way. In the US, the “standard” textbook, at least for an introduction to Latin, would probably be the book by Collins.

There is simply not a huge market out there for books introducing students to ecclesiastical Latin, therefore not a lot of options. It’s probably safe to say that most, maybe even all, seminary formation programs use this book.


Hey everyone, I just stole my first identity! :stuck_out_tongue:





Here you go:


Wow!! really does exist!! That’s awesome, love it!



The mayor of London will fix that!

Mr Johnson said it was “absurd” for Latin to be left out of the curriculum.


As anixx said, it would be on the curriculum in seminary, but perhaps not emphasized too much these days. Greek and Hebrew are also important. In the Renaissance, they used to say that a truly educated person would be a “vir trilinguis” (a trilingual man, knowing Latin, Greek, and Hebrew–the “man” really did mostly mean men, although St. Thomas More taught the ancient languages to his daughters).

I think that Western Christians of all stripes need to learn from Jews, Muslims, and Greek Orthodox, all of whom teach the liturgical language to their children. Of course, there are often (as with the Greek Orthodox) ethnic reasons for this, and Muslims and Orthodox Jews have a view of verbal inspiration which makes the original language more important than it is for Christians. And, of course, there are Catholic schools, some/many of which no doubt still teach Latin. But I wish there was a more serious effort to make language learning available to all interested laypeople. Americans in general have a curious superstition about the learning of foreign languages. It’s often seen as arrogance, but (as in other intellectual matters) it’s a curious blend of arrogance and modesty. Americans seem convinced both that foreign languages are far too hard for ordinary people like them to learn and that it’s impudent for foreigners to expect them to learn their languages. (Yes, this is a huge stereotype, but I’ve lived in the States my whole life and am American in just about every way except formal citizenship. so I do have some basis for saying this.) In the case of Latin and Catholics, the modesty is primarily in evidence. Latin (and Greek and Hebrew) is hard, but not as hard as most people think.

Sorry for the rambling. It’s a pet peeve of mine.



I’m so lucky I am fluent in Spanish. I can understand almost everything when reading Latin and I have never studied it. Well I did study Italian and that helps a lot.

I don’t think Latin is hard at all. Even if one’s first language is English, Latin shouldn’t be hard. A lot of languages have a strong Latin foundation. Of course, the ones with the strongest Latin foundation are Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese. Italian more so.

I also know some people that have studied Italian in order to understand Latin. It did work for them.


It’s the other way around for me. I can understand written texts in Spanish and Italian based on my knowledge of Latin, French, and Romanian.

I don’t think Latin is hard at all. Even if one’s first language is English, Latin shouldn’t be hard. A lot of languages have a strong Latin foundation

The fully inflected nature of Latin grammar is hard for a lot of people. The vocabulary isn’t hard at all. I found both German and Greek much harder, personally. But then, I already knew French and Greek when I learned Latin. For people who only know English, or perhaps French or Spanish, I can see how Latin grammar would be challenging.



I have found that to be very true. In some respects Latin is easier to learn for Poles, who also have a highly inflected language, though Latin and Polish share very few cognates. The thought flow (subject - verb - object, adjective preceding noun, auxiliary verbs, etc.) seems to be too ingrained for Anglophones. But it shouldn’t be hard to think in terms of “Dominus vobiscum,” etc. once it’s repeated enough times and often.


Oh, guys! I actually found it by searching 100 years of my life out! It is a HUGE dictionary called the ‘Lexicon recentis latinitatis’ , but apparently, it is Italian to Latin, so I’m going to have to learn Italian first. I hear they’re closely related, Italian almost being as close as to being called ‘New Latin’ in a way. I’m interested! :thumbsup:


Hello Nanotwerp.

I’ve used the following for my own Latin studies: TAN, 1st and 2nd Year Latin - not very good. Neither contained sufficient explanations of stuff. Ditched them.
Wheelock’s Latin 1st and Second Year plus the Workbooks that go with them - excellent stuff. Oxford Latin English Dictionary helpful in the beginning but not complete enough later on. Found an old copy of White’s which is the best on line at the used books store Abebooks. Spark Charts - invaluable tool it is a laminated folding card of six pages total that contains all the Declensions and Conjugations plus some other stuff like the personal pronouns which I still have trouble with. I’m not fluent yet but I’m well on the way. Yippie. I just got Henle’s series. I went ahead and got all four years of the Henle’s and they are for high school Latin courses and when I get done them, I’ll probably be fluent. I have a few Reader’s too and they help, but I’m usually too lazy to pick them up in my spare time. There are some that go with the Wheelocks you can find them at Abe’s. The Henle’s has its own readers portions built in.

I’d be totally lost if my dictionaries weren’t in English.

I can also say that some other languages are seeming more familiar since learning Latin. I don’t think I’ll ever be multilingual, but I will conquer Latin. That you can bank on.



Hello Fr. David.

Your link provides an excellent list of good solid Latin works. I’m going to spend some more money on my favorite things: books. Yummy. Thanks very much for the link.



That might lead you to as close as anything to an answer to your original question: The *Lexicon Recentis *is a product of (or at least promoted by) the Vatican’s *Latinitas Foundation * which appears to fall under the Pontificia Academia Latinitatis.

If you are accepting advice of not necessarily “officially Catholic approved” curricula, I humbly offer some reviews: [thread=121562]LATIN: Language Study Resources[/thread], much of which has been duplicated and somewhat expanded on the Sticky: [thread=486782]Please read before posting[/thread].



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