Seminarians Should Know History, Latin and Greek, Says Pope

Sends Letter to President of Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2004 ( Candidates to the priesthood need a sound formation in historical-ecclesiastical disciplines and a solid knowledge of Latin and Greek, says John Paul II.

The Pope expressed his concern in a message sent April 16 to Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, on the committee’s 50th anniversary. The Vatican press office published the letter on Saturday.

«The revelation of God to men occurred in space and time. This is why we count the years of our history starting from the birth of Christ,» the Pope wrote in the message.

«The foundation of the Church, through which He willed to transmit, after the Resurrection and Ascension, the fruit of Redemption to humanity, is also an historical event. (…) Therefore, the history of the Church is an opportune place to draw from, in order to know better the very truth of the faith,» the Pontiff continued.

The «Holy See has always encouraged the historical sciences through its scientific institutions, as attested, among other things, by the foundation 50 years ago at the initiative of Pope Pius XII, of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences,» John Paul II specified.

«The Church is, indeed, profoundly interested in ever greater knowledge of its own history. In this connection, careful teaching of the historical-ecclesiastical disciplines is more necessary than ever, especially for candidates to the priesthood,» the Pope added.

In regard to the study of history, the Holy Father stressed that «a solid knowledge of Latin and Greek is absolutely indispensable, without which access to the sources of the ecclesiastical tradition is precluded.»

«Only with their aid is it possible, even today, to rediscover the richness of the experience of life and of faith that the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has been accumulating in the course of 2,000 years,» he emphasized.

He added: «If history is the teacher of life, the Church is the teacher of Christian life.»

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