VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI is launching a new Pontifical Academy for Latin to help priests and academics deepen their knowledge and ability with the language.
“There is a pressing need for greater knowledge and more competent use of Latin in the ecclesial environment as well as in the world of culture at large,” the Pope stated Nov. 10.
The new academy was announced in a letter titled “Latina Lingua.” The document is known as a motu proprio (“by his own initiative”).
The academy will have two goals.
The first is “to promote the knowledge and study of the Latin language and literature, both classical and patristic … especially in Catholic educational institutions where priests both train and educate seminarians.”
The second aim of the school will be to promote the written and spoken use of Latin.
“There is a danger of an increasingly superficial knowledge of Latin, also reflected in the philosophical and theological studies of future priests, in contemporary culture and in the context of a general weakening of the humanities,” Pope Benedict wrote in his letter.
“It seems urgent to support the efforts for a more responsible use of Latin and a better understanding of it, both within the Church and in the wider world of culture,” the Holy Father stated.
He said knowledge of Latin is now more necessary than ever to study sources from which to draw upon, including theology, liturgy, the Church Fathers and canon law, as taught by the Second Vatican Council.
But, according to the Pope, there also is a renewed interest in Latin and culture among young people and scholars from different nations in a world dominated by science and technology.
The new academy will replace the Latinitas Foundation, which was established by Pope Paul VI in 1976.
The Pontifical Academy for Latin, which will have a five-year trial period, will be part of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
On Nov. 10, Pope Benedict appointed Ivano Dionigi as the president of the new academy and Father Roberto Spataro as its secretary.