Monday, November 25, 2013

Latin, the Catholic Church, and Western Civilization

A reader inquires:

"Dear Ed: You're a Roman Catholic. What do you think of the movement to restore the Latin (Tridentine mass) in the Catholic Church?"

For those of you who aren't Roman Catholic (or aren't familiar with Roman Catholicism): The so-called "Latin mass" used to be the standard mass for Roman Catholics throughout the world. 

But the 1960s--which changed so much of Western Civilization for the worse--also altered the Catholic Church for the worse. The Second Vatican Council (commonly called "Vatican II") was actually a series of councils held throughout the 1960s. 

The overall effect of the Vatican II was to "modernize" the Catholic Church. One of these changes was the jettisoning of Latin, the language that the Church had used for 2,000 years. 

However, Latin has gradually crept back into the Catholic Church. When I attended Catholic schools (1974-1986), no Latin was taught. By the mid-1990s, however, the same Catholic high school that I attended was once again teaching Latin. Interestingly enough, non-Catholic schools and home-schoolers rediscovered Latin around the same time.

There is also a movement to restore the Catholic Latin mass. However, a genuine Latin mass is still the exception rather than the rule. In my hometown of Cincinnati, there are perhaps two or three Catholic Churches who celebrate the Tridentine mass.

I am in favor of the rediscovery of Latin--and not just for Catholics. 

Latin is, first and foremost, the universal language of the Catholic Church, and its exclusion in the 1960s was ill-considered, in my opinion. (But again, so much went wrong in the 1960s.)

Latin is the language of civilization. It is was the language of the Roman Empire, and was for years the academic language of Christendom. Latin is the basis of--or a major contributor to--most Western European languages.

It is Latin--and not English--that is the natural, organic lingua franca of Western Civilization.

The world that spoke Latin was a better world, on the whole; and the return of Latin is perhaps a harbinger of Western Civilization rediscovering its roots.

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