Language In The Roman Rite Liturgy: Latin And Vernacular

Cardinal Arinze – Keynote Address at Gateway Liturgical Conference, St Louis, Missouri – November 11, 2006

We should do our best to appreciate the language which the Church uses in her liturgy and to join our hearts and voices to them, according as each liturgical rite may indicate. All of us cannot be Latin speakers, but the lay faithful can at least learn the simpler responses in Latin. Priests should give more attention to Latin so that they celebrate Mass in Latin occasionally. In big churches where there are many Masses celebrated on a Sunday or Feast day, why can one of those Masses not be in Latin? In rural parishes a Latin Mass should be possible, say once a month. In international assemblies, Latin becomes even more urgent. It follows that seminaries should discharge carefully their role of preparing and forming priests also in the use of Latin.


It is not true that the lay faithful do not want to sing the Gregorian chant. What they are asking for are priests and monks and nuns who will share this treasure with them. The CDs produced by the Benedictine monks of Silos, their mother house at Solesmes, and numerous other communities sell among young people. Monasteries are visited by people who want to sing Lauds and especially Vespers. In an ordination ceremony of eleven priests which I celebrated in Nigeria last July, about 150 priests sang the First Eucharistic Prayer in Latin. It was beautiful. The people, although no Latin scholars, loved it. It should be just normal that parish churches where there are four or five Masses on Sunday should have one of these Masses sung in Latin.

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