Rome university cancels popular Latin courses taught by U.S. priest


Rome university cancels popular Latin courses taught by U.S. priest

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) – Snippets of Virgil’s Latin poetry interspersed with the loud guffaws of U.S. Carmelite Father Reginald Foster will not be heard bouncing down the hallways this year at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University.

Father Foster, who has translated documents into Latin for four popes, told Catholic News Service Oct. 17 that his popular Latin courses at the university had been canceled.

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See also: Orbis Catholicus


Not at all surprising, from what the article says.

I hope his academy flourishes. Anyone who can inspire students to enjoy Latin that much has a real gift to offer. Maybe he could write a decent, entertaining Latin primer to fund the operation.


Foster-ing LATIN once again in Rome

This afternoon was the first meeting of Fr. Reginald Foster’s Latin “experiences”.

It took place in the new digs for the course. You will remember that he was given the heave ho from the Gregorian University where he had taught for years. Someone came to his rescue with a location (ironically close to the Collegio Romano) for his new Latin Academy. It is now housed at the American Institute for Roman Culture, directed by one of Foster’s long time veterans.

He still won’t take money from students.

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Just a quick note. Fr Reginald Foster is a Disclaced Carmelite.

Was the university paying him? If not, it is hard to see why they canceled the course. On the other hand, university administrators sometimes do strange things.

If you read the article you would see that the course was cancelled due to the fact that less than 15 students offically registered. I believe it said that out of a class of 60 students only 3 had registered and were paying for the course.

I know it is common practice for universities to cancel courses that do not meet a certain enrollment count.

I see nothing wrong with this. It is partly Father’s fault, and he readily admits this, that he allows students into the class who are not paying for it.

This thread and the article upon which it is based has been an “a ha!” moment for me. Fr. Foster’s experience is to me further proof that the Church has become fixated on money, just the same as secular, for-profit, corporations. Where fifty to sixty years ago an army of nuns and religious lived in poverty and sacrificed most material pleasures in order to teach the young, we now are treated to the spectacle of a Latin teacher who wants to teach, not rake in money, and for that his classes are cancelled.

Sadly, the Church and the state have both chosen callously to ignore the obligation of the older generation to teach the younger, and instead have converted what was once viewed as a fiduciary duty to youth into a money-making enterprise.

My study of Latin never got past second semester high school level. About the best I can do is read some of the proceedings in the English House of Lords. But I am good at German and believe that ever literary language has a tremendous amount of beauty and that mastery requires rigor and discipline.

The university should be elated that Fr. Foster is teaching Latin whether the institutions profits financially or not because the goal of the university should be to teach! I would be willing to bet that for many hours every week classrooms at the University sit idle and unused when they could be put to better use.

I am further saddened to note that with the reemergence of Latin in secondary schools, some public schools do a better job of promoting and teaching Latin than the Catholic parochial schools do. Yes, I know they have more financial wherewithal, but Latin was and is the mother tongue of the church (recall the announcment upon the election of the Pope, "Habemus Papam. . . ") and if someone can get students excited about it, no roadblocks should be thrown in his way.

I don’t see it this way. A University costs money to run. Giving away classes for free is a good thing as long as you have some core group that is registering and paying for the class. The University in this cases requires at least 15 students to be registered and paying for it. This is for the professors pay and the costs to run the University. Seeing that this class only had 3 registered students out of 60 (I believe that was the number given) I can understand why it was canceled.

I think it would be a great idea for this priest to go open up a Latin Academy and teach Latin for free.

Fr Foster is now in Milwaukee and happily teaching his Latin course during the Summer. There is also a course based on this approach at the webpage of Fr. Gary Coulter, priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, NE. Fr. Foster knows about it but neither endorses it or participates in it. Fr. Coulter was his student for two years and is a big fan of Fr. Reggie.

You can download the whole course in 3 pdf files and Voila! you’ve got a useable, free Latin course. All you need is a dictionary. Here is Fr. Coulter’s link:

This is a very old thread, but maybe, as a religious superior, who graduated from two Pontifical Universities, I can shed some light here.

Pontifical universities belong to the Vatican. They are given over to religious orders or to secular institutes, such as Opus Dei to operate; but they do not own them. The Holy See owns them. Popes expect these schools to support themselves. The Vatican also has very high demands on what has to be paid to a professor at one of its universities. This includes: salary, retirement, medical insurance for him and his family, paid sick leave, paid parenting leave, bereavement leave, social security in those countries where it exists, a cost of living increase and an additional increase for each child they have. They must also get a sabbatical year every fixed number of years and if they have tenure, they must receive a salary during the sabbatical year and their substitute has to be paid.

Above that are the overhead costs to run a school. Pontifical universities, while they are famous for their philosophy and theology schools, do not make their money from those schools. They have the lowest number of students. They have to provide degrees in the sciences and the arts in order to attract paying students. Seminarians, brothers and sisters pay only a percentage of the full tuition. Only diocesan priests pay full tuition, because they are paid a salary like any other secular Catholic.

It is imperative for the university to maintain a census in order to maintain a department or a course. To open a classroom for three paying students, when they can use that classroom for 50 paying students makes no sense and the Holy See will not tolerate such an abuse.

The Gregorian belongs to the Holy See and is under the administration of the Society of Jesus. Father is a Discalced Carmelite Friar. He is giving away what is not his to give. As a friar, he has a solemn vow of poverty. Mendicants and monks make solemn vows of poverty, unlike other religious who make simple vows of poverty. We vow not only not to own anything, but not to have control over anything either unless it is authorized by the Holy See.

In this case, the control of the Gregorian University is in the hands of the Society of Jesus, not the Discalced Carmelite Friars. The Society of Jesus has to answer to the Vatican when it is audited. Father was giving away money that was not his to give without permission.

He had the most charitable intentions and the greatest passion for his subject, but his means was contrary to the meaning of solemn vows made by friars and contrary to the best interest of the university and the Holy See. He is honest enough to admit it.

Therefore, to say that the Church is like any other secular institution that is concerned only about money is to lack a proper understanding of the vows that a friar makes and of justice. One cannot give away what one does not own and a friar solemnly vows never to own anything. Therefore, he has nothing to give away, not even his talents.

In this case, his talents belong to the Gregorian University while he was employed by them. Yes, injustice, when a religious teaches at a university, his religious community is paid for his services. It is not free to the university.

Religious communities have to educate their young and take care of their elderly and their sick like any other family.

Whoever said that there was a time when religious worked for free? Where do you people get this information from, besides Hollywood?

Religious have always worked for less money than secular staff. This is true. For example, in a parish run by religious, the parish may pay two salaries, but the superior assigns six men. The parish has the benefit of six for the price of two. But the religious community still gets paid, even if it has to make a dollar stretch like a rubber band.

Religious work for free when the ministry has no source of income. We never turn down an apostolate to the poor for lack of funds. That’s a whole other subject.

Try not to read too many fiction books or watch too many old movies about priests and religious. Most of them are very misleading, because the writers don’t understand the system and the infrastructure.


Br.JR, FFV :slight_smile:

As usual, an excellent explanation that helps us all to understand more deeply our Church. Thank you for taking the time to write this answer.

I wish YOU could be on staff at CAF! Your answers are always so clarifying, and they bring peace to troubled minds.

Or on staff at the USCCB writing nice little tracts like this for publication.

Thanks for the link!:thumbsup:

God bless you. :slight_smile:

Great idea!

I have printed and saved several of J.R. Education’s posts in the past. They’re definitely worth reading and studying.

So tracts would be great!

Go for it, J.R.! Over and over again on CAF, no matter what the thread, the conclusion is that “Catholics needs better catechesis.” Perhaps you could stand in that gap with your well-researched, wise, interesting, and charitable writing.

I vote Br. JR for catechism committee.

We do have to charge for the tracts though - no giving them away for free! Br JR wrote them on CAF, and CAF needs income to continue to operate. :wink:

What have you people been putting in your tea? :smiley:


Br. JR, FFV :slight_smile:

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