Why is Latin so important to the Catholic Church?

Just wondering why the Latin language is the important language in Catholic Church.

Basically, for the same reason English is important to the United Kingdom, or the United States.

It is the basic medium of communication.

With an agreed upon reference point, all subsequent translations have an origin against which meaning can be gauged.

Latin is a dead language. There won’t be a bunch of argument over what “Mater Dei” means 2000 years from now. It will always mean “Mother of God” in Latin. It won’t evolve into “Grandma” or “Matriarch” so that people can endlessly bicker over “What Pope X was really trying to say”.

I don’t know if this is the Church’s official position, but it seems logical to me. It prevents confusion down the road.

Latin used to be the universal language. Those in the higher classes of society could go to
university in any country in the world and still be understood. I think that might have something to do with it.

Same was told about the Hebrew language in Christ time. And less than 100 years later Papias wrote

Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.

newadvent.org/fathers/0125.htm (VI fragment close to end)

Sic transit gloria mundi. Jesus promised the survival of the Church, not the language Hebrew, Greek, Latin, whatever. The source of the understanding is the living Magisterium and only the Living Magisterium.

The Latin is important, because over 1500 years of the past of the Church was documented in Latin, and the Church is proud to her past and want to conserve it.

Ok, thanks for the answers. So is it a good idea to learn how to speak and read Latin? I see a lot of people on CAF that know how to say things in Latin (although they could just be phrases that they’ve picked up somewhere)

Latin is a very cool language, also it greatly helps reading the Latin Vulgate

You can still get a Latin Vulgate???

It was the original vernacular of the church, and the church wants all the tradition it can get.
One of my favourite things is the “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus” I think Latin is awesome.

what does that mean?

Also, where can I learn Latin? Is there a book I can just buy at the local bookstore?

most books you can buy use Classical Latin

there are some differences, but i am not sure of them(i believe mostly in pronunciation and vocabulary)

In my Latin class at HS, we use Cambridge

Cool, thanks a lot. Just wondering, how long did it take you (or anyone else) to learn Latin?

Sure. Here’s a site with the Vulgate side-by-side with the Douay-Rheims translation (links to books of the Bible are on the left-hand side of the page).

Latin is full-fledged language. This question is a bit like asking “Where can I learn German (or Russian, or Arabic)? Is there just a book I can buy?” There is a sticky post at the top of this forum with resources for learning Latin, but to really learn the language would take many, many hours of study, reading, and writing. To really learn any language can be a lifelong endeavor.

Most Catholics, of course, don’t know any Latin at all except for maybe a few phrases (like how people who don’t know Spanish will still know “Hasta la vista,” “Dos tacos, por favor,” and so on). For people who are interested, however, it is usually sufficient to learn enough that you can at least understand a Latin text once you have seen its translation. This wouldn’t enable you to just sit down with a book in Latin for pleasure reading, but it would allow you to, for example, pray the Our Father in Latin with an understanding of not only what the words mean but why they say what they say, rather than just as a series of sounds that you have committed to memory. This is also quite time-consuming, but you could gain a rudimentary understanding in, maybe, a few months.

Read to your heart’s content.





I think he means a hard copy of the Latin Vulgate. I think you still can, though the only people I know with a copy are my grandfather and his 70 year old (maybe 80) copy and then a priest who is a family friend and his is from the 1950s IIRC

Try among these results.

Probably a college or university may offer it. It is also required for seminarians to learn the language. So, at least 4 years.Latin is the root of a lot of languages.


Amo-I love
Amas-You love
Amat-We love

im only in my second year, and weve barely scratched the surface

Depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

I’d say two years before being able to follow the psalms, three years before being able to follow all the Latin Mass texts (either form), and several years to understand the Vatican documents. But that presumes you study some Latin every day.

Of course, but the Magisterium understands what it understands through the means common to humanity, not by magic.

Put differently, if the cardinals and bishops lost the ability to speak and write, they would be unable to communicate the gospel or anything else.

People communicate in language. Language, to be intelligible, must enable agreement on the things signified by the words. Because of the length of usage, Latin communicates more about the Roman Catholic faith than anything other language, just as base 10 numerical system communicates more information, with greater clarity and efficiency about the mathematical problems most people encounter in their daily lives than other base systems.

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