Pope Francis: It’s good for young people to study Latin

Vatican City, Dec 6, 2017 / 10:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to the Pontifical Academies on Tuesday, Pope Francis praised the study of Latin, especially for young people, and encouraged scholars and teachers to promote its study as a positive guide for students as they navigate life.

Addressing academics and Latin teachers, the Pope said Dec. 5 that they should “know how to speak to the hearts of the young, know how to treasure the very rich heritage of the Latin tradition to educate them in the path of life, and accompany them along paths rich in hope and confidence…”

Pope Francis’ message was read at the 22nd Solemn Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, which had as its theme, “In interiore homine. Research paths in the Latin tradition.”

The Pope praised “the theme of interiority, of the heart, of consciousness and self-awareness” which he said is found “in every culture as well as in the different religious traditions.”

“Significantly,” he continued, this theme is “presented with great urgency and strength even in our time, often characterized by concern with appearance, superficiality, the division between heart and mind, interiority and exteriority, consciousness and behavior.”

Moments of change, crisis, or transformation, whether in relationships or in a person’s identity, require reflection “on the inner and intimate essence of the human being.”

Francis also noted the many important figures, both in the classical Greek-Roman tradition and the Christian tradition, who have reflected on the dynamism of man, pointing especially to the Fathers of the Church and the Latin writers of the first Christian millennium.

Highlighting St. Augustine in particular, the Pope quoted from his Tractates on the Gospel of St. John, which say, “Return to your heart; see there what, it may be, you can perceive of God, for in it is the image of God. In the inner man dwells Christ, in the inner man are you renewed after the image of God, in His own image recognize its Author.”

This is relevant also for our time, he stressed, and worthy of our reflection and of sharing with others, especially young people, who are just starting on the journey of life.

A journey where they may be caught up, he explained, in the “labyrinths of superficiality and banality, of the external success that conceals an inner emptiness, of the hypocrisy that masks the split between appearances and the heart, between the beautiful and cared-for body and the soul, empty and arid.”

At the meeting, the winners of the 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies were also awarded. This year’s prize winners are Dr. Pierre Chambert-Protat for his doctoral thesis on Florus of Lyon and Dr. Francesco Lubian for her critical publication of the Disticha attributed to St. Ambrose.

The winners of the Medal of the Pontificate were Dr. Shari Broodts for a critical edition of the Sermones of St. Augustine and the Latin Teaching Group of the University of Toulouse, for the publication of a Latin manual for university students.

The 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Academy for Latin, or Pontificia Acadamia Latinitatis, which was founded by Benedict XVI in 2012 through the motu proprio Latina Lingua.

Organized every year by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies was on two themes: Methodological proposals for teaching Latin today, and the reception of ancient Christian Latin between the medieval and modern eras.

The first topic was “reserved to institutions (academies, schools, associations, foundations, research groups etc.) that are engaged in formative activity among the youth,” the Prize’s press release stated.

The second was for scholars between the ages of 25 and 40 who have produced doctoral theses or publications on the theme in the last five years.

3 Comments

  1. The hypocrisy of this pope truly knows no limits. It was scarcely a year ago that Pope Bergoglio stated explicitly his contempt for the traditional Latin liturgy that formed two millennia of saints and insulted those attending it, especially the young, as rigid and psychologically disturbed:

    “I always try to understand what’s behind the people who are too young to have lived the pre-conciliar liturgy but who want it. Sometimes I’ve found myself in front of people who are too strict, who have a rigid attitude. And I wonder: How come such a rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something: insecurity, sometimes even more…. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.”

    • Paul! Careful. You might be thought a prophet. “We’ve all heard of ‘thankless jobs.’ Consider the following job description: ‘Requires spending endless hours with people who dislike, dismiss, or reject you completely. Must be able to defend a product that few want and many hate. No vacations; few apparent benefits. Poor pay. Chances of bodily harm, torture and death very high’. Anyone interested?” (appropriated from a Carl Olson article on the thankless task of prophets).

  2. Here, in his own words, is Pope Bergoglio’s own description of how he mocked the Latin Mass when he served it as a boy and treated it as a joke:”Dear Alessio, yes, I was an altar boy. And you? What part among the altar boys do you have? It’s easier to do now, you know: You might know that, when I was a kid, Mass was celebrated differently than today. Back then, the priest faced the altar, which was next to the wall, and not the people. Then the book with which he said the Mass, the missal, was placed on the right side of the altar. But before the reading of the Gospel it always had to be moved to the left side. That was my job: to carry it from right to left and left to right. It was exhausting! The book was heavy! I picked it up with all my energy, but I wasn’t so strong: I picked it up once and fell down, so the priest had to help me. Some job I did! The Mass wasn’t in Italian then. The priest spoke but I didn’t understand anything. and neither did my friends. So for fun we’d do imitations of the priest, messing up the words a bit to make up weird sayings in Spanish. We had fun, and we really enjoyed serving at Mass.”

    (Quoted in “Pope Francis served the traditional Latin Mass!”, Rorate Caeli, Feb. 28, 2016)

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