Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 36

Vatican Website translation:

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.
3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.
4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

Latin text:

36. §1. Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur.
§2. Cum tamen, sive in Missa, sive in Sacramentorum administratione, sive in aliis Liturgiae partibus, haud raro linguae vernaculae usurpatio valde utilis apud populum exsistere possit, amplior locus ipsi tribui valeat, imprimis autem in lectionibus et admonitionibus, in nonnullis orationibus et cantibus, iuxta normas quae de hac re in sequentibus capitibus singillatim statuuntur.
§3. Huiusmodi normis servatis, est competentis auctoritatis ecclesiasticae territorialis, de qua in art. 22 § 2, etiam, si casus ferat, consilio habito cum Episcopis finitimarum regionum eiusdem linguae, de usu et modo linguae vernaculae statuere, actis ab Apostolica Sede probatis seu confirmatis.
§4. Conversio textus latini in linguam vernaculam in Liturgia adhibenda, a competenti auctoritate ecclesiastica territoriali, de qua supra, approbari debet.

Slavishly literal translation:

36. §1. The use of the latin language, particular law excepted, should be preserved in the latin Rites.

§2. Nevertheless since, whether in Mass, or in the administration of the Sacraments, or in other parts of the Liturgy, the use of the vernacular language by no means extraordinarily could appear very useful among the people, a more ample place should be given to it, indeed in first place in the readings and admonitions, in some of the prayers and chants, according to the norms that concerning this topic will be established in the following chapters.

§3. The norms being observed in this fashion, it is of the competent ecclesiastical territorial authority, noted in art. 22 § 2 (also, if the case should arise, having taken the counsel of the Bishops of the surrounding regions of the same language) to establish the use and manner/style of the vernacular language, with these acts tested/approved or confirmed by the Apostolic See.

§4. The translation of latin texts into the vernacular language for use in the Liturgy ought to be approved by the competent ecclesiastical territorial authority, as noted above.

The last of the norms based on the pastoral and teaching character of the Liturgy enacted by the Council Fathers concern the use of the vernacular in Catholic worship.

The Fathers decree that the use of Latin in the Latin rites is to be maintained, but they do not indicate (at least in this place) to what extent and how the decree is to be implemented. Some have suggested that art. 36.1 displays some tension with art. 34’s call for rites “accommodated to the capacity/grasp of the faithful” and the repeated calls for “full, conscious, and active participation” of the faithful in liturgical worship.

The Fathers further decree that the use of vernacular languages in liturgical worship may certainly occur in the (scriptural) readings and presidential directives, as well as in certain prayers and chants. They do not limit the use of the vernacular to these categories, but make it clear that these categories would be the first areas in which vernacular translations would be made.

The Fathers go on to decree that local territorial authorities are to judge if and to what extent this permission for the use of vernacular language in liturgical worship is to apply to their local churches. Most interestingly, in the light of recent controversies about the English translation of the Roman Missal, art. 35.4 squarely places the responsibility for vernacular liturgical translations on local territorial authorities, although one might assume that the oversight of the Apostolic See mentioned in art. 35.3 would apply here as well.


  1. To translate ‘in primis’ in para. 2 as ‘in the first place’ can suggest that there will be a second and a third place, and that the Council had a temporal progression in mind. But I would claim that ‘in primis’ is more accurately translated ‘above all’. In the Roman Canon similarly, ‘in primis . . . ‘ indicates that Mary holds the position of highest eminence, not that we venerate her first and then move on to others. The progressive vernacularisation of the liturgy that we have seen, whatever its merits, was not mandated by these two little words

  2. PS: The seed for this might, if you read between the lines, be understood to be placed in the somewhat fraught Chapter VIII of Session XXII of Trent (as, more directly, Trent allowed Rome to decide if it was advisable to allow the faithful to receive Holy Communion under both species, as was actually done for a generation in central Europe after Trent, and how Trent planted the seed for frequent communion that spent over 3 centuries before germinating under Pius X):

    “Though the mass contains much instruction for the faithful, it has, nevertheless, not been deemed advisable by the Fathers that it should be celebrated everywhere in the vernacular tongue. Wherefore, the ancient rite of each Church, approved by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being everywhere retained, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, or [19] the holy council commands pastors and all who have the that they, either themselves or through others, explain frequently during the celebration of the mass some of the things read during the mass, and that among other things they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on Sundays and festival days.”

  3. The problem is that the Council Fathers established here that Latin is to be preserved in the Latin rites. We’ve certainly not implemented this part of Vatican II especially when we connect this directive with Pope Paul’s own implementation of it in Iubilate Deo the year after our 1973 English ICEL translation went into effect.
    “A more ample place” for the vernacular is a very different thing than “total venacular” and is still more removed from rare Latin.

    1. But the Holy See approved all-vernacular liturgies for every country in the world, as you know. I take this to be a quasi-official interpretation and implementation of what Vatican II means on this issue of language. Which is to say, it’s highly interesting because it’s a case where the official approval of all-vernacular (despite those couple passages in SC which you cite over and over and over) seems to be a “spirit of Vatican II” interpretation condoned at the very highest level of church authority. (Just to prevent a possible misinterpretation: the approval for all-vernacular was never a prohibition of some or all Latin as another option.) Dan, I hope you see that your fight here is really with Pope Paul VI – it seems that you don’t approve of how he interpreted and implemented Vatican II on this point.

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #6:
        I don’t see where I’d have a difference with the pope who published Iubilate Deo, a document that seems to be ignored by those who I perceive to be ill at ease with certain parts of SC. The argument really is with SC itself and those who try to argue away certain very pointed aspects of the document.

  4. I thank Msgr Harbert for the clarification on “inprimis” (which does appear as a single word in the Latin text on the Vatican website). My Lewis and Short gives “first, in the first place” as a possible translation, but also gives “with or among the first, chiefly, especially, principally, particularly” and I am convinced by Msgr’s argument that these would make a better translation.

  5. In my work, I converse regularly with people from all over the world. English is our lingua franca. One of the more interesting aspects of my job is to be on conference calls in which, say, a native of Paris, a native of Bangalore and a native of Sao Paolo all converse with one another in English. (It is a testament to my limitations that they seem to understand one another better than I do. But then, I frequently understand non-native English speakers better than I do people who are born and bred in the UK).

    Has English made similar inroads as the default vernacular language of worship in the church, when worshippers from many language backgrounds gather?

  6. and, not forgetting the bishops who had attented the council interpreted and implemented this point in their conferences.

    Perhaps they thought that having the Latin text of the new Vatican II mass for use by priests was sufficient, and that the advantages of a completely vernacular mass far outweighed the advantages of Latin and was much more attuned to what they actually decided at the council.

    If the implementation of vernacular languages was so against what the “council wanted” why did the very same bishops who had been at the council kick out Latin for everyday use so completely ?

  7. I’m not sure that it’s true to say that the bishops approved the wider use of the vernacular. I’ve only checked the Diocesan archive of three English dioceses, but in all three cases the ad clerum letters of the post-conciliar period are full of attempts by the bishops to rein in the use of the vernacular. Two of them in the early ’70s, for example, all but order parish priests who have three Masses on Sundays to ensure that one of those Masses is in Latin – the extent to which this is ignored can be seen by the number of times this request is repeated – in ever more forceful language.
    As I say, I only ever checked three dioceses, and it may well be that I happened upon the only three where the bishops felt this way, but based on my limited research it would seem plausible that the use of the vernacular is one of those areas where ‘the Spirit of the Council’ ran from the bottom up, against the express will of some bishops. I’d be interested to know what others can contribute. Anyone else looked at ad clerum letters from the late 60s/early 70s?

  8. Consider my stance another “5.67.”

    Like many other aspects of liturgy, Latin is but a means to an end. Is SC 36 merely a nod to a musical tradition people did not want to lose entirely? Outside of multi-lingual events, the concert Mass or musical piece, and a few other special occasions here and there in the liturgy, I don’t see any other purpose than to provide a base edition from which to translate the rites.

    I have great satisfaction for the near-universal use of the vernacular, and more–it is time to revisit the composition of original prayers in modern vernacular languages. The undoing of this reform has been a great poverty to the Catholic Church.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #10:
      It seems to me that the Todd and the bishops mentioned by James Dunne represent two poles between which we might range possible interpretations of Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur.

      On the one hand, we could take it to mean that a Latin editio typica is to serve as the base text from which translations (and, perhaps, adaptations) are to be made in the Latin Rite.

      On the other hand, we could take it to mean that the celebration of the Mass in Latin, in whole or in part, should remain the normative liturgical experience of Catholics of the Latin Rite.

      In between these two poles we might imagine a whole host of possible interpretive positions.

      As for me, I tend to see little reason to have any spoken part of the Mass in any language other than the vernacular. That said, I also think that a simply Latin chant ordinary should be part of the repertoire of every congregation.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #11:
        I think Fritz makes a very important point here.

        If there must be a single, central text from which all translations are taken, then Latin is as good a language as any, because it is in some sense “neutral” and does not change as quickly as living tongues. (Note that it is hardly a static, unchanging language, even today; the lovely translation of the first volume of the Harry Potter series into Latin introduces all sorts of terms that neither Cicero nor St Augustine nor St Thomas Aquinas could have imagined.)

        But it is hardly a given that there must be such a single, central text from which everything else is taken. I don’t think the Orthodox work that way.

        So I have two questions, one philological and one historical.

        First: can Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur (36 § 1) really be interpreted to mean that Latin is to remain as the central text from which translations are taken? The reading makes sense to me, but for years I have seen this interpreted as calling for Latin to be used in celebrations.

        Second: at what point in history did we first see the idea of an editio typica from which other copies were taken (whether in Latin or another language)? Is this an innovation from around the time of Quo Primum (1570)? Could a fixed editio typica have been practically possible before the invention of moveable type? Is the editio typica yet another modernist innovation?

      2. @Jonathan Day – comment #17:
        I particularly like your second question. Was what we now know as the Roman Canon the consecratory prayer in all he other missals of the Latin Church before Trent (Gallican, Mozarbic, Sarum, et al.)?

        Just for the record, there is a little niche amongst traditionalists, to which Latin isn’t the big deal. They (we) would prefer to have the old mass in English rather than the new in Latin.

  9. I’m no scholar, but it seems to me that Pope Paul VI promoted the all-vernacular Mass in his general audience of Nov. 26, 1969:

    “Understanding of prayer is worth more than the silken garments in which it is royally dressed. Participation by the people is worth more—particularly participation by modern people, so fond of plain language which is easily understood and converted into everyday speech.”

    In that same audience he said:

    “But, let us bear this well in mind, for our counsel and our comfort: the Latin language will not thereby disappear. It will continue to be the noble language of the Holy See’s official acts; it will remain as the means of teaching in ecclesiastical studies and as the key to the patrimony of our religious, historical and human culture. If possible, it will reflourish in splendor.”

    I am open to correction, but those paragraphs, as well as the tone of the entire audience, seems to be an apolgetic on reasons for praying the Mass in the vernacular. It seems to me he was saying a farewell of sorts to the use of Latin in the liturgy.

    The whole audience is online at

  10. Lots of parishes employ some Latin ordinary parts and simple chants. Greek is not unheard of either. We begin every Lenten Mass with the Kyrie. The people sing these things well when a reasonable context is provided, namely, the preservation of Latin as the mother tongue of the hierarchical church. (99% of the church had nothing to do with that.) if you’ll check your cupboards and fridge you’ll find little preserves.

  11. The last couple comments have pretty much addressed the point I wanted to make when I saw this earlier (but it was on my phone and I detest trying to type anything on the touch screen so decided it would have to wait.)

    Why would we want to have Mass in Latin in ordinary parish life? Some who post here praise the subtlety of the Latin texts… but all but a tiny minority of us would be reading any Latin in translation, anyway. If it is so there is a common language for multi-lingual assemblies… what good is a common language understood by no one, when, at least in the US, English is much more likely to be shared? If it is to “preserve” the heritage of the Latin rite… why pick a specific age for that preservation? Will Catholics in the year 20,000 revere a language from the first 1% or 5% of Church life? I just don’t see the point of asking us all to live in a museum. The little bit of Latin or Greek we may get in a Kyrie or Angus Dei here and there comes off more as self-conscious decoration than as a way to deepen our prayer.

    So what am I missing, that matters to the lives of the great majority of non-Latin literate?

    1. @Terri Miyamoto – comment #13:

      One of the most stark and painful realizations of a Catholic who understands and loves Latin is the unavoidable fact that Latin is no longer, and will never again be, the liturgical language of the vast majority of the Roman rite. For many years and even til now, I thought that most laypersons and even priests hated the Latin language, even vehemently. I now know that I cannot actually know the positions of my brothers and sisters even in disputes. “It is what it is”, per the cliché. Perhaps this is the most charitable position.

      I do know that the study of Latin must retain a central place in the life of the Church even if most do not worship in the language. For most of the past two millennia, Latin has been a juridical and theological lingua franca in the Christian West. To disregard, or even disparage, knowledge of Latin is a dangerous turn away from the record of our shared ecclesial past. Soon, probably in my lifetime, we will have a pontiff who cannot easily read Latin. Will this pope ably guide the Church if he cannot understand its documented history capably? At this point the Church will pass into treacherous waters indeed.

      For this reason the People of God must preserve education in Latin. Even so, the decline of Latin in worship will inevitably result in a decline of Latin education, regardless of every best effort to disjunct the two activities. The knowledge of centuries will slip away, only for the Church to repeat these same errors.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #16:
        I don’t think most priests and laypersons “hate” the Latin language. My feeling is that we hate trying to pray in a foreign language. And, again as an active pastoral minister right in the depths of parish life, I would much rather spend any time or “social capital” I have with parishioners of all stripes in exploring other areas of Catholic life than in trying to teach Latin.

        I can understand a need to keep the knowledge of Latin alive among those who study it in order to appreciate the texts that originated and are preserved in Latin. I studied Hebrew and Greek for the same reason for Biblical Studies. I’ll certainly grant you that. But that’s not the same as asking the parish as a whole to pray in Latin.

      2. @Terri Miyamoto, #20: My feeling is that we hate trying to pray in a foreign language.

        And this is the sad development that, in my opinion, wholesale vernacularisation of the Mass has accelerated. Latin shouldn’t be a foreign language – for the vast majority of Catholics, it is our language, the language of our Church! Shouldn’t our “active participation” in the liturgy involve to some extent our taking ownership of our language?

        Perhaps Latin seems especially foreign to us now because of the decline of an authentic Catholic culture in the West, and the rise of secularism and pragmatism (two things I’m not sure the Second Vatican Council saw coming). It’s not a scientific observation, but from my experience in the UK at least, there is a certain correlation between a strong Catholic identity and use of Latin in the OF Mass (and also whether or not the EF is available).

      3. Matthew,

        Was the Catholic Church really Catholic in its identity, in your view, in the first several centuries when it worshiped in the vernacular? Was it a mistake for the Roman Church to abandon Greek in the 3rd-4th century and adopt the language of the people, Latin? Should the popes in the 3rd-4th have resisted vernacular (i.e. Latin) and encouraged a stronger Catholic identity by retaining Greek?


      4. @Matthew Hazell – comment #28:
        Matthew, to say “shouldn’t be a foreign language” is to apply inappropriate norms to the natural evolution and development of languages. Your comment completely ignores the fact that by a natural process the rise of the Romance and Germanic languages in the West supplanted the use of Latin as the common language of peoples in Europe; it was no longer their mother tongue. Are you really saying French speakers “shouldn’t” speak French, and German speakers “shouldn’t” speak German? You may as well try to hold back the tides.

        The decline of Latin as a spoken tongue isn’t a case of moral culpability (“shouldn’t”) but of broad, evolutionary developments. It is completely unlike, say, the imposition of English upon the Irish, through which the British sought to extinguish a national culture and its language as part of political domination. There I think one can use the language of should and ought. There one can legitimately say Irish “shouldn’t” be a foreign language to the Irish, as it became due to its willful suppression.

        The decline of Latin has nothing essential to do with a decline of Christian civilization, but was underway throughout the middle ages.

  12. The introduction to the GIRM comments on the response to SC 36:

    12. Hence, the Second Vatican Council, having come together in order to accommodate the Church to the requirements of her proper apostolic office precisely in these times, considered thoroughly, as had the Council of Trent, the catechetical and pastoral character of the Sacred Liturgy. And since no Catholic would now deny a sacred rite celebrated in Latin to be legitimate and efficacious, the Council was also able to concede that “not rarely adopting the vernacular language may be of great usefulness for the people” and gave permission for it to be used.* The eagerness with which this measure was everywhere received has certainly been so great that it has led, under the guidance of the Bishops and the Apostolic See itself, to permission for all liturgical celebrations in which the people participate to be in the vernacular, so that the people may more fully understand the mystery which is celebrated.

  13. In response to Deacon Bauerschmidt’s and Mr. Day’s comments: Perhaps we can distinguish what the Council Fathers intended by _Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur_ from how the phrase has been subsequently interpreted.

    Is there anyone on the Pray, Tell blog who has access to the Acta where this was discussed, and/or to the notes taken from meetings of the groups charged with shaping this section of SC, and/or scholarly investigations of these sources to answer what the Council Fathers meant by the phrase?

    On the other hand, perhaps the Council Fathers deliberately chose NOT to give a definitive interpretation to this phrase so that “the use of the Latin language in the latin rites” could be preserved/served: a) by means of Latin editiones typicae; b) by means of at least some communities (monasteries? cathedrals?) devoted to an exclusive celebration of the latin rites in Latin (presumably the reformed rites the Council Fathers were approving), recognizing that most parochial communities would celebrate in the vernacular; c) by means of most latin Rite communities including at least an occasional use of Latin in the spoken or sung texts of the celebration of the Liturgy; d) by means of most latin Rite communities celebrating primarily in spoken and sung Latin, with an occasional insertion of the vernacular for the four cases enumerated in 36.2. It would then be possible to see all of these developments as faithful to the Conciliar request to preserve/serve the use of Latin in the latin rites, with the particular development justified on other grounds.

  14. In response to Mr. Douglas’ question at #18: I’d recommend that you explore R.D.C. Jasper and G. J. Cuming’s _Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed_ (my library has the 1992 third edition published by the Liturgical Press, but there may be a later edition), both for its information and its bibliographies. With reference to the Gallican Rite, it notes: “As far as the eucharistic prayer is concerned, they differed in organization both from the Eastern anaphoras and from the Roman canon…. The Gallican eucharistic prayer is organized on the basis of four fixed points: Sursum corda, Sanctus, Institution Narrative, and Doxology, between which are inserted three passages varying from Sunday to Sunday.” [p. 147] With reference to the Mozarabic rite, it notes: “The comments in the previous chapter on the Gallican liturgy apply largely to the Mozarabic, although the Spanish style is more restrained. The Mozarabic names for the variable portions of the eucharistic prayer are illatio, post-Sanctus, and post-pridie, respectively.” [p. 151].

    A good source book offering samples of these Latin texts is Anton Hanggi and Irmgard Pahl’s _Prex Eucharistica: Textus e Variis Liturgiis Antiquioribus Selecti_ (Fribourg: Editions Universitaires, 1968), volume 12 of the Spicilegium Friburgense.

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #22:
      Fr. Joncas: Thank you for your kind response here and on the other thread, which I’ve just discovered, concerning ‘useless repetitions’.

      As I said above, I don’t find any value in preserving the use of Latin for its own sake, but would you allow that since the ’60’s certain people/elements/idealogues in the West have experienced a kind of self-loathing? Ironically, Susan Sonntag, with whom I find much to disagree, wrote, sometime in the ’80’s, “Words are the repositories of history, and they should be respected.”

      The West certainly has no corner on vice. Wherever there are 20 or 30 humans, vice can be found, regardless of the culture. If that be true, isn’t it possible that there are great things to found in the spirituality and liturgical practice of the West, that a returning to the early days of the Church is no guarantee of authenticity, that there is no meaning to be found in Medieval practices? (And who named it Medieval? In the middle of what?)

  15. “So what am I missing, that matters to the lives of the great majority of non-Latin literate?”

    Not much, and nothing that matters to the salvation of the world. And I say that as a person who knows Latin, and would promote its study in schools.

  16. My own hermeneutic for understanding the tensions in SC and among the options in the reformed ritual books is that they are Providential opportunities for discernment by the local community – so long as the community is given an opportunity to make an informed decision based on deep and long exposure to the various options (as opposed to pro forma exposure largely ruddered by the preferences of the clerics and establishment of the parish), and discernment to be re-visited generationally (I hope to see the day when the ritual books are revised and re-translated periodically on a regular basis, say, with each ordinary Jubilee?)

  17. The Episcopalians at S.Thomas,NYC make a judicious use of Latin. At Holy Communion one may often hear a Latin Gloria,Credo along with a hymn or two. During the daily offices the canticles and anthems often are in Latin. The texts are printed along with a translation in an elegant leaflet. I should mention that German and French anthems are included from time to time. Of course all of this is done within the framework of the English Prayerbook. My only complaint with them is that they don’t use Greek enough.

  18. I feel much more comfortable with saying my “Catholic Identity” has something to do with Jesus Christ and his worship than with the language of a specific empire.

    1. @Terri Miyamoto – comment #30:
      This is right.

      Granted, the use of Latin is about more than language. The inclusion of texts and ritual traditions is also about culture. But my faith as a Roman Catholic is based on the experience of Jesus Christ and his worship. Not a human culture.

      The culture is a means to an end. It shouldn’t be the object of idolatry. Or the cornerstone of a gnostic approach to liturgy.

      We should honor the Latin tradition, certainly. Learn the language for the value of vernacular roots, for logic and construction, and to read original Latin verse and prose. And that’s about enough.

  19. There was a study presented by Trinity, Dublin concerning Latin as the international language of Protestantism. The spread of reformation ideas was accelerated by the authors’ use of Latin either for the original or in a rapid translation.

    Even today the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer has been rendered into Latin and services are held from it at the Church of The Advent of Christ The King in San Francisco. It is always pleasant to see women actively involved in such a traditional context.

  20. I have to wonder why the strong opposition to Latin when we already have use of other foreign languages in the liturgy. No one ever complains about “Alleluia”, or “Hosanna”. We can sing “Yahweh, I know you are near” or “Abba, Father” to the universal joy of progressives, but sing “Deus, I know you are near” or “Abba, Pater”, and frothy cries of protest will be just as universally upraised. It’s like a bizarre phobia, and probably is just the tip of a greater pathology.

    I would propose, as a church musician myself, that there ought to be a vocabulary of Latin common to all Catholics. Not such that they need to know Latin, but that certain words and phrases are familiar and welcome, as “Alleluia” or “Hosannah” are. Just a few off the top of my head:

    Gloria in excelsis Deo (hey, we all like this one…)
    Dominus vobiscum/et cum spiritu tuo
    Agnus Dei
    Deo Gracias
    Ave Maria

    Pope Paul VI asked that every Catholic know and be able to sing the Mass Ordinary and several hymns in Latin. I think even less ought to be expected. Just familiarity and comfort.

    I personally think Latin ought to occupy the highest place and be used regularly for Mass. But between my own valid preference and the valid preferences of others who might prefer a fully vernacular liturgy, I think a basic minimum of comprehension and familiarity is not too far a compromise or too large a burden.

    Again, not asking any more than we already ask for Hebrew.

  21. I believe a parallel can be drawn between the insistence on Latin as the official language of the Church and the insistence on the use of the KJV as the official translation of fundamentalist Protestants. Both are doomed to obscurity in the face of linguistic development and the need for people to communicate intelligibly. I respect the classicists and Latin aficionados and I’m exceedingly grateful for my five years of Latin studies, but the chances of maintaining Latin hegemony are about as great as everyone learning Esperanto. I could be wrong.

  22. I have no problems with the vernacular Mass and would see Latin as being good only from the point of view of making the language of the Mass universal for the Latin Rite and unifying the various cultures and languages of the church and without offending anyone since it is a dead language but with a long history in the Latin Rite. But making things uniform in one language only could be accomplished rather well and even better with Italian. So let’s go with it.

  23. The truth is that the Church in Vatican II never abandoned liturgical Latin. Once that point is accepted the conversation changes. Matthew’s point is a good one because the Council Fathers clearly direct that the people should know at least the ordinaries in Latin. Pope Paul VI implemented this portion of the council’s teaching in 1974. According to SC, a liturgically well formed Catholic is able to recite the Latin ordinaries, at least that is what the Council Fathers are saying he should be able to do if our pastoral work is sound. To see proponents of Vatican II attempt to argue multiple parts of the council’s pastoral directive away as if they do not matter is problematic & removes our discussion from the council. It is interesting to witness people debate the matter as if they imagine we are talking about the readings, homily, or even the General Intercessions in Latin. We are primarily talking about the ordinaries folks, not the propers and certainly not the readings. Just as the Kyrie was always retained in Greek V2 has asked us to retain the Latin ordinaries on a regular enough basis that the people know them. Linguistic developments and the rise of Germanic vernaculars are not even relevent to a discussion that claims to reference SC and the liturgy of the Latin rite.

    1. @Daniel McKernan – comment #36:
      Not everything in the Ordinary is equal. The Creed/Credo strikes me as one element that touches on the most interior orientation of a Christian. Why would believers profess faith in Latin? Why would one leave it to a choir?

      Some Catholics attempt to debate away the particular prescriptions on SC 30, and suggest that an interior participation is adequate enough. For myself, I’m glad SC 36 is on the books. We should wrestle with the challenge of sacred language. But let’s not make a fetish of it.

  24. I’m late to the discussion.

    But am I the only one who finds it astounding that the discussion of SC, 36, has focused solely on #1? Nothing on #2 and, even more so, on #3 and #4.

    Astounding, and passing strange!

    1. @john Robert Francis – comment #39:
      Well, I meant my comment to tie to #2: that Trent’s clearly prudential judgment to avoid the vernacular nevertheless foreshadowed a time when prudence and the sanctification of the faithful could and would come to a different conclusion….

      1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #43:
        KLS – per John O’Malley’s recent book: Trent, What Happened, he painstakingly researched the more than 50 boxes of Acta from the council and this is what he concluded about latin/vernacular.

        The council of Trent only made a statement that latin is the language of liturgy – nothing more; nothing less. In fact, the council of Trent was open to the use of vernacular and left it to bishops to opt for the vernacular.

        Subsequent history indicates that only a few areas in Europe used the vernacular after the council of Trent e.g. Bavaria, some parts of Germany (primarily to offset the vernacular in use by Lutherans, etc.). But, after the council of Trent, subsequent papacies and curias (including the newly formed Congregation of Rites) enshrined what we now call the Tridentine Rite and ascribe things such as latin only to Trent. Some of the reasons for this was the *counter-Reformation* feelings and context such that vernacular became associated with Protestantism. (the same think happened in terms of bible translations)

        So, O’Malley makes a strong point in distinguishing between a) council of Trent and b) Trent (what happened afterwards that we mistakenly put under the council of Trent).

  25. JRF – had the same reaction so didn’t post – the usual knee jerk to OF vs. EF.

    Here is a link to a piece by Fr. Murphy after the first session of VII and speaks to the context of *latin* in SC and in VII documents.

    Key points:

    “The debate on the use of Latin in the liturgy of the “Western” Church provided, in large measure, a good opportunity to discuss a far more profound question. The prelates deeper concern was to determine the function and responsibility of bishops as successors of the apostles and associates of the Holy Father in the governance of the whole Church as well as of their individual dioceses.”

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