Pontifical Academy of Latin Established

By Jon|November 14, 2012|Catholicism, Education, Higher Education, Language, Religion|

The long and short of it is that the Church's doctrine has always been available in many languages, even during its development in the Roman empire. However, the language which everything has been translated into and used as official was Latin. To not maintain knowledge of this, is to throw away the key to unlocking your past.

Apostolic Letter

given motu proprio


On the founding of a Pontifical Academy of the Latin language

1. The Latin language has continuously received the great esteem of the Catholic Church and the Roman Pontiffs, inasmuch as they consider it their own language, and they have assiduously taken pains to make this language widely known, because it was capable of transmitting the message of the Gospel to the entire world, as our predecessor, Blessed John XXIII justly and rightly decreed in the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia.

Of course the Church from the time of Pentecost has spoken and prayed in all the languages of mankind. Nevertheless the Christian communities of the first centuries for the most part used the Greek and Latin languages, since in those places in which they dwelt these were the universal means of communication, and in this way the newness of the Word of Christ encountered the heritage of Roman and Hellenistic culture.

After the Roman Empire in the west ceased to exist, the Roman Church not only continued to use the Latin language but also in a certain way was the custodian and patronness of this language, in Theology and the Liturgy, as well as in the realm of education and the transmission of knowledge.

2. In our day as well a knowledge of the Latin language and culture is vital for looking into the springs from which very many branches of learning draw, such as Theology, liturgical studies, Patristics, and Canon Law, as the Second Vatican Council teaches (see the decree on the education of priests, Optatam Totius, 13).

Furthermore, to manifest the universal nature of the Church, the liturgical texts of the Roman Rite have their paradigmatic form in the Latin language, as do the principal documents of the Magisterium and the solemn, official acts of the Roman Pontiffs.

3. Nevertheless in today’s culture, in which humanistic studies have diminished, there is danger that the knowledge of Latin will be superficial, something which is noticed in the Theology and Philosophy curricula even of future priests. But on the other hand, in our world in which science and technology hold pride of place, a renewed interest in the Latin language and culture may be observed, and not only on those continents which have their cultural roots in the Greek and Latin patrimony. This is particularly remarkable because not only does this fresh interest involve the realm of universities and education, but it extends even to young people and to students from the most diverse nations and traditions.

4. For this reason it seems necessary to support efforts to learn the Latin language more deeply and to use it in a fitting fashion, whether in ecclesiastical affairs or in the broader field of culture. It is perfectly reasonable, for the success and propagation of these efforts, to employ new methods of teaching Latin that correspond to new conditions and to advance likewise the links among academic institutions and among students of the language, so that the rich and diverse patrimony of Latin may be promoted.

To attain this plan, we, following in the footsteps of our predecessors, establish a Pontifical Academy of Latin by means of this Apostolic Letter issued today motu proprio. This Academy will report to the Pontifical Council on Culture. A president will direct this Academy, assisted by a secretary and those nominated by us, while a council of academics will provide these aforementioned with their aid.

The Latinitas Foundation, established by Pope Paul VI with the letter Romani Sermonis on June 30, 1976, is suppressed.

We decree that this Apostolic Letter, given motu proprio, by which we approve the statutes below for a period of five years, be published in the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on November 10, 2012, the memorial of Pope Saint Leo the Great, in the eighth year of our Pontificate.


[With two minor formal alterations, this translation is gently provided by Ave Maria University's Department of Classics.]

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[Statutes of the new Pontifical Academy:]

Pontificiae Academiae Latinitatis Statutum

Art. I
Pontificia Academia Latinitatis conditur, cuius sedes in Statu Civitatis Vaticanae locatur, quae linguam Latinam et cultum promoveat extollatque. Academia cum Pontificio Consilio de Cultura copulatur, cui est obnoxia.

Art. II
§ 1. Haec sunt Academiae proposita:
a) ut linguae litterarumque Latinarum, quae ad classicos, Christianos, mediaevales, humanisticos et recentissimos pertinent auctores, cognitionem iuvet studiumque provehat, praesertim apud catholica instituta, in quibus vel Seminarii tirones vel presbyteri instituuntur atque erudiuntur;
b) Ut provehat diversis in provinciis Latinae linguae usum, sive scribendo sive loquendo.

§ 2. Ut haec proposita consequatur, Academia studet:
a) scripta, conventus, studiorum congressiones, scaenica opera curare;
b) curricula, seminaria aliaque educationis incepta procurare, etiam iunctis viribus cum Pontificio Instituto Altioris Latinitatis;
c) hodierna quoque communicationis instrumenta in discipulis instituendis adhibere, ut sermonem Latinum perdiscant;
d) expositiones, exhibitiones et certamina apparare;
e) alia agere ac suscipere ad hoc Institutionis propositum assequendum.

Art. III
Pontificia Academia Latinitatis Praesidem, Secretarium, Consilium Academicum ac Sodales, qui Academici quoque nuncupantur, complectitur.

Art. IV
§ 1. Academiae Praeses a Summo Pontifice in quinquennium nominatur. Praesidis mandatum in alterum quinquennium renovari potest.

§ 2. Ad Praesidem spectat:
a) iure Academiae, etiam coram quavis iudiciali administrativaque auctoritate, sive canonica sive civili, partes agere;
b) Consilium Academicum et Sodalium Congressionem convocare eisque praesidere;
c) Congressionibus Coordinationis Academiarum Pontificiarum Sodalis loco interesse atque cum Pontificio Consilio de Cultura necessitudinem persequi;
d) Academiae rebus agendis praeesse;
e) ordinariae administrationi, Secretario opem ferente, atque extraordinariae administrationi, suffragante Consilio Academico necnon Pontificio Consilio de Cultura, consulere.

Art. V
§ 1. In quinquennium a Summo Pontifice nominatur Secretarius, qui in alterum quinquennium confirmari potest.
§ 2. Praeses, si forte absit vel impediatur, Secretarium delegat, ut ipsius vice fungatur.

Art. VI
§ 1. Consilium Academicum constituunt Praeses, Secretarius et quinque Consiliarii. Consiliarii autem a coetu Academicorum in quinquennium eliguntur, qui confirmari possunt.
§ 2. Consilium Academicum, cui Academiae Praeses praeficitur, de maioris ponderis quaestionibus, ad Academiam attinentibus, decernit. Ipsum Rerum agendarum ordinem comprobat, quae a Coetu Sodalium tractanda erunt, qui saltem semel in anno est convocandus. Consilium a Praeside convocatur semel in anno atque quotiescumque porro id saltem tres Consiliarii requirunt.

Art. VII
Praeses, suffragante Consilio, Archivarium, qui Bibliothecarii partes quoque agit, atque Thesaurarium nominare potest.

§ 1. Academiam constituunt Sodales Ordinarii, qui numerum quinquaginta non excedunt et Academici vocantur, quique studiosi sunt cultoresque linguae ac litterarum Latinarum. Ii a Secretario Status nominantur. Cum autem Sodales Ordinarii octogesimum aetatis annum complent, Emeriti fiunt.
§ 2. Academici Ordinarii Academiae Coetui, a Praeside convocato, intersunt. Academici Emeriti Coetui interesse possunt, at sine suffragio.
§ 3. Praeter Academicos Ordinarios, Academiae Praeses, Consilio audito, alios Sodales nominare potest, qui “correspondentes” nuncupantur.

Art. IX
Aboliti Operis Fundati Latinitas patrimonium inceptaque, compositione editioneque commentariorum Latinitas addita, in Pontificiam Academiam Latinitatis transferuntur.

Art. X
Quae hic expresse non deliberantur, Codice Iuris Canonici et Status Civitatis Vaticanae legibus temperantur.

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