Why the reverence for Latin?


I studied classical Latin back in high school, and nothing makes me cringe more than hearing Latin in Church. Classical Latin stopped evolving around the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. Each province started to use it’s venacular more, as they weren’t connected to other provinces in the same way anymore. However, these vernacular languages combined parts of Latin into their language, e.g. Old Frank

The Church, however, continued to use Latin, and like the provinces, this Latin slowly changed into something we now know as Ecclesiastical Latin (as it was common enough to still go through changes). It borrowed some literary features from the derived vernaculars that were evolving.

Honestly, it’d make more sense for the Church to use English as the current and next official language, as it’s prominence in International Commerce and the internet places it in a similar level of that if what Classical Latin was.


According to Cardinal Arinze the reason for the new literal translation was to have a basis for some of the most remote vernaculars in foreign countries. It’s not because English is better but there are very few Latin translators left in the world.


Correct! xxxxxxxx


If you fly internationally. Many unilingual PPLs fly in Quebec (and probably also in France and other Francophone countries).


Palestine at the time of Our Saviour had many languages. Hebrew was the language of many of the common people but not the majority. There was also Aramaic, the native tongue of Our Lord; Greek, after Alexander’s conquest (333BC); and of course Latin, the language of the latest conquerors; and many other Semitic languages were spoken throughtout the land.
Rome at that time was the centre of the known world and that was the final destination of St Peter, first Bishop of Rome, chosen by Our Lord to be the rock of the Church. Given the historical circumstances Latin was always going to be the language of the Church. Latin like the Church was and is universal.
So if Peter was the rock that our Church is built upon then without doubt Latin was our language, the langugae that binded us all as one. Sadly, the latter is no longer the case due to Vatican Two.
On a personal level I say my prayers in English and in Latin and I hope to learn to say them in Irish. I learned to say my prayers, especially The Rosary in Latin. It is easy to learn and I would highly reccommend it.
God Bless
Pax Vosbiscum


There’s more to it than that: lack of teaching language in public schools, and the Church expanding into areas where Latin would be about as foreign to them as Chinese is to you and I. In fact there is some precedent for the Church using N. American aboriginal languages in its liturgy for that very reason:

Latin used to be a requirement for medical school too, but no longer.

As for me, I still pray the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin, at least Lauds and Vespers using the Monastic Breviary, or the whole thing if I use the Roman rite (my books for the Monastic only have Lauds and Vespers in Latin because that’s what my abbey does, the rest is in French except for the hymns and Marian antiphons which are always in Latin).


I’m in Montreal about 2 times a month. You have to switch to English when someone calls up in English.


Gregorian chant. Enough of a reason to fall in love with latin, if not for its deep history in European history. Beyond that its kinda cool that the Church has its own language (now that the rest of the world have stopped using it).


I live near Montreal and regularly flew in its airspace for years. It’s not required. Many, self included, would do so as a courtesy, but many Quebec pilots are unilingual and unable to communicate effectively in English; I would regularly hear both languages used in Montreal controlled airspace when flying in it. Transport Canada regulations require only that a pilot can speak English or French. Of course if the latter, you’re pretty much limited to flying in Quebec, and Ottawa only.

  • 602.134 (1) Any person operating an aircraft who wishes to receive the services referred to in this section in one of either English or French shall so indicate to the appropriate air traffic control unit or flight service station by means of an initial radiocommunication in English or French, as appropriate.

(source: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-96-433/FullText.html)

ICAO only requires language proficiency in English, or the language understood by the station on the ground, in the case of Quebec, and Ottawa, that language is French, in addition to English. That applies to pilots. controllers handling international traffic must be proficient in English:

In which languages does a licence holder need to demonstrate proficiency?

Amendment 164 to Annex 1 has introduced strengthened language proficiency requirements for flight crew members and air traffic controllers. The language proficiency requirements apply to any language used for radiotelephony communications in international operations. Therefore, pilots on international flights shall demonstrate language proficiency in either English or the language used by the station on the ground. Controllers working on stations serving designated airports and routes used by international air services shall demonstrate language proficiency in English as well as in any other language(s) used by the station on the ground.

(source: https://www.icao.int/safety/AirNavigation/Pages/peltrgFAQ.aspx#anchor14)

So even in aviation, which does have an “equivalent” to Latin, the “vernacular” (local language) is allowed for local pilots.

Similarly, the Church allows the vernacular, so her Gospel message and the Graces it confers is understood by all!


Do French use the English measuring system (miles, pounds, etc.)? Or metric (km, kg, etc)? I would think this is more important in flying.


It’s mixed. We officially use feet for altitude, but metric for weights and fuel quantity (kg) and nautical miles for distance, and knots for speed. Note that nautical miles is in fact an SI unit, as it is defined as one minute of arc at the equator.

However, in practical terms, when using an older aircraft like the one I had, with a flight manual entirely in English (US) units for everything I used English for weight and fuel quantity. My manual was in knots/n.m., but even older aircraft used miles and mph; my plane was a 1979 and it was some time in the '70s that light aircraft started using knots instead of mph. It sounded better in mph though, made our planes seem faster. Km/h even more so but that has never been used around here.


Well, but it was the common language of Europe and the Mediterranean world after the Empire ended. If you had dates from North Africa and wanted to trade for North Sea cod, you had to be able to communicate somehow. Latin filled that bill. It was very much like English is today, which is spoken all over the world, but especially in business.


Sure… English became the dominant language in business globally for practical purposes, just like latin for the Church.

If the language of business were to change from english to spanish, would you makes claims that business has been betrayed because of that change? Or you would you let go of a very human attachment to a superficial thing like language preference?


English does not have the ability to express the nuances of some theological terms that Latin does. It is not merely superficial.


To each their own. I’m a big fan of the late Roman Empire. Had it not been Roman roads kept safe by Roman soldiers and the funding of churches and monastaries by the emperors, it would have been much harder for Christianity to become the dominant religion in the world.


It’s really a wonder how a language like English with its irregularities in grammar, pronunciations, spelling, etc. caught on as it did.


Probably because of its adaptability. It’s not perfectly adaptable, but it’s still pretty flexible.


Probably because of the British Empire in the 19th century and the Americans in the 20th and their behemoth economic strength.


Well again, the British empire had a lot to do with that. They were an economic power house. Their colonies needed to communicate, and other nations needed to trade.


The Greek Fathers felt that way about Latin.

In situations where that is the case, we could simply adopt the Latin (or Greek) term into the English language. Those who are studying theology at that level would surely be able to easily use Latin for greater precision. Examples of this already having been done would be “Theotokos” and “Consubstantial”.

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