By way of brief commentary I should like to draw attention to some important aspects of the Latina Lingua, the Pope’s Motu proprio establishing a new Pontifical Academy to promote the study and use of Latin. Interested readers may consult the translation from Latin posted recently on the AMU Classics webpage.
1. Veterum sapientia is reaffirmed.
In its opening paragraph, Latina Lingua refers to and “incorporates by reference” (as lawyers say) the magnificent Apostolic Letter on the importance of Latin by Blessed Pope John XXIII, entitled Veterum sapientia. Latina Lingua refers to the teaching of Veterum sapientia as still having force (“iure”). In particular, Latina Lingua emphasizes once again, with Veterum sapientia, that Latin is the language of the church, that it is an especially suitable language for transmitting the gospel, and that it should assiduously be spread (as the Popes have constantly taught).
2. Ressourcement in its proper sense, important in many disciplines, requires Latin.
Latina Lingua teaches that Latin should be fostered by all of those disciplines which are nourished, or should be nourished, through turning to ancient sources. The Pope mentions theology, liturgical studies, and canon law, which obviously are of special importance to the Church, but lay Catholics might wish to add (especially) philosophy and political science. As regards the latter, recall that the American Founders praised the study of classical authors as indispensable for promoting a “republican” (small “r”) outlook.
3. A concern with the soundness of culture generally implies the importance of Latin.
Latina Lingua is indeed concerned with the health and soundness of culture broadly and not just “church matters”. (In this it is like the Council document, Gaudium et Spes.) “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,” the Pope teaches.
4. The evident renewal of interest in Latin today is ascribed to young people and non-Western cultures.
That is, Latin is trendy, hip, and “multicultural.” The Pope conceives of Latin as the new language uniting and spanning persons from different cultures and traditions: “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.”
5. New methods of teaching and using Latin are encouraged.
Apparently Latin as used in new media, and methods of teaching “active” Latin, are to be encouraged and supported.
In short, there is an agenda here for all Catholics involved in education and, in particular, Catholic universities.