Languages in the Catholic Church


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Pope Benedict XVI became the first Pope to resign from the Papacy since 1415. The pope announced that he would be resigning at the end of February 2013. This announcement was made in Latin. This is notable because the only official language of the Vatican is Italian and Pope Benedict XVI’s native language is German. In addition, most Catholics do not speak Latin. There are approximately 1.1 billion Catholics all over the world and they speak various languages. This caused the Vatican to translate information on their website and set up Twitter accounts in different languages such as Portuguese, French, Latin, Arabic, German, Polish, English and Spanish. A total of 900 million Catholics understand one or more of these languages. Even though the Vatican has not created a Croatian twitter account, they regularly use Croatian on their website. About 3.9 million Catholics speak Croatian. The use of Portuguese, Spanish and English is important in reaching out to the Catholics in America.

Latin has been used by the Catholic church as a liturgical language for centuries. There are various reasons for this. This includes the importance of preserving the teachings of the Catholic church. Most liturgical texts were originally written in Latin and the constant updates and translations into other languages sometimes leads to heresy’s and errors in divine teaching. This is because it may not be possible to find the right phrases and words to fully express various terms in Latin in another language. The Latin language also provides stability to the Catholic church. The challenge of using living languages that are commonly spoken nowadays is that these languages are constantly evolving, which would lead to constant alterations of liturgical texts. It is much easier to use Latin, which is a dead language as the meanings and phrases of words are retained through time.

Most religions have a sacred language, which they use as a liturgical language, even though the followers of the religion may use other languages in their day to day life. Most religions prefer to use dead languages or an archaic version of a living language. This may require a religious leader to undergo special training in order to understand the liturgical texts.

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