FAQ: Why are you so preoccupied with Latin? Didn't Vatican II
abolish Latin? Why shouldn't people be able to know what is going on
Answer: If we are "preoccupied" with anything, it is not the Latin
language. We are concerned, of course, with the Mass and Sacraments;
that they be offered reverently and validly, not conveying any
erroneous doctrines or down playing the truth about their nature. We
are also concerned that the Church not falsify or down play any of Its
doctrines or moral principles. Catholics are entitled to and must
demand authentic worship, doctrine, and moral teaching—their
salvation depends upon it, and it may not be traded off to make things
easy or the get along with non-believers.
The "Big Lie" of the Twentieth century is that the New mass is
nothing more than a translation of the True Mass. Mass may be offered
in various rites and languages, but must always be orthodox in its
presentation; in the liturgy itself and in the teachings that
accompany it. The Novus Ordo can be performed in Latin, and some Novus
Ordo clergy even use the text of
the traditional Latin Mass—that
doesn't make them Catholic
The Latin language has played an important part in preserving
this authenticity of worship, doctrine, and moral teaching over the
centuries. For example, the Church has invariably composed and
preserved Her authentic teachings in Latin or Greek. Greek, the
universal scholarly language of the ancient world, was supplanted by
Latin in the early middle ages. This singularity of language avoids
the numerous shades of meaning that arise from translation into
various languages. Latin has the advantage, over Greek, of being
The Church, however, while formulating Her doctrine in scholarly
Latin, recognizes an occasional need to provide Her members with the
opportunity to worship (and even more often to read the Sacred
Scriptures) in their vernacular. Hebrew, Greek, vernacular Latin,
various Slavic dialects, the Geez of Ethiopia, and a few Indian and
Arabic languages have been employed in Catholic Masses for centuries.
If Catholics seem "preoccupied with Latin," it is in the manner of the
Council of Trent, which condemned the idea "that the Mass ought to be
celebrated in the vernacular tongue only" (Session XXII, Canon 9).
Following this principle, Old Roman Catholic churches make use of
accurate vernacular languages in the Mass and Sacraments whenever it
seems useful and prudent. The Latin language is always the standard
for comparison should questions arise, but sometimes it makes good
pastoral sense to bring the Mass and Sacraments to parishioners in a
language with which they are comfortable.
While Vatican II may be responsible for many foolish things, the
abolition of Latin is not one of them. Just prior to the Council,
(22 February 1962) Pope John XXIII issued the Apostolic Constitution
"Veterum sapientia," requiring not only that all seminary students be
thoroughly grounded in Latin, but that theological instruction be
conducted in the Latin language, with its "vocabulary of appropriate
and unequivocal terms best calculated to safeguard the integrity of
the Catholic Faith...." While authorizing a limited use of the
vernacular in the Mass and Office, Vatican II itself declared that
"the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites"
("Sacrosanctum concilium," Arts. 36, 101) "steps should be taken so
that the faithful may be able to say or sing together in Latin those
parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them" (Art. 54).
Even Pope John Paul II's 1983 Code of Canon Law speaks of Mass being
celebrated "either in the Latin language or in another language,
provided the liturgical texts have been lawfully approved" (n.c. 928).
The Latin language structure also underlies Gregorian Chant, the
proper music of the Roman liturgy. Failure to follow tradition or
even the modernizing dictates of Vatican II (cf. "Sacrosanctum
concilium," Arts. 114-117) has brought about a terrible decline in the
quality of Catholic music together with the introduction of non-Catholic music.
There is no question that people ought to understand what is
taking place at Mass, in the celebration of the Sacraments, and in the
contents of Sacred Scriptures. Catholics ought to take offense at the
modernist notion that they are too dumb to learn enough Latin to
participate at Holy Mass. Often, those who claim that the traditional
Mass is incomprehensible are those who have never made the effort or
had the opportunity to immerse themselves in a parish where Latin is
used publicly at Mass. Most traditional Catholic churches make a
Latin-English missalette available and read the day's Epistle and
Gospel from the pulpit.
We are not "preoccupied with Latin," but rather preoccupied with
the preservation of the truth of Christ which is supposed to be
preserved by the Catholic Church. Latin helps to standardize the
presentation of that truth -- but TRUTH is the issue!