Pope's Apostolic Letter Instituting Pontifical Academy for Latin

«The Latin Language has Always Been Held in the Highest Esteem by the Catholic Church»

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Apostolic Letter

In the Form of Motu Proprio “Lingua Latina”

With which is instituted the Pontifical Academy for Latin

1. The Latin language has always been held in the highest esteem by the Catholic Church and by the Roman Pontiffs, who have assiduously promoted the knowledge and spread of Latin, making it their own language; it is a language capable of universally transmitting the message of the Gospel, as was already authoritatively affirmed by the apostolic constitution “Veterum sapientia” of my predecessor, Bl. John XXIII.

In truth, since Pentecost the Church has spoken and prayed in all of the languages of men. Nevertheless, the Christian communities of the first centuries widely used Greek and Latin, languages of universal communication in the world in which they lived, and thanks to which the newness of the Word of Christ encountered the legacy of the Hellenic-Roman culture.

After the disappearance of the Roman Empire in the West, the Church of Rome not only continued to avail herself of the Latin language but made herself in a certain way its guardian and promoter, both in the theological and liturgical sphere and in those of education and the transmission of knowledge.

2. Even in our own time the knowledge of the Latin language and culture is more necessary than ever for the study of the sources from which, among others, numerous ecclesiastical disciplines draw, for example, theology, liturgy, patristics and canon law, as the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council teaches (cf. “Optatam totius,” 13).

Moreover, precisely to highlight the universal nature of the Church, in this language are redacted in their typical form the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, the more important documents of the pontifical magisterium and the more solemn official acts of the Roman pontiffs.

3. Nevertheless, in contemporary culture we observe in the decline of humanistic studies, the danger of an ever more superficial knowledge of the Latin language, noticeable even in the philosophical and theological studies of future priests. On the other hand, precisely in our world in which science and technology play such a prominent role, we find a renewed interest for the Latin culture and language, not only on those continents that have their roots in the Greco-Roman legacy. Such attention appears more important not only insofar as it involves academic and institutional spheres, but as it regards young people and scholars from different nations and traditions.

4. It thus appears urgent to support the effort toward a better knowledge and more competent use of the Latin language as much in the ecclesial ambit as in the wider world of culture. To bring attention to this undertaking and make it vibrant the moment is more opportune than ever to adopt didactic methods adequate to the new situation and to promote a network of relationships among academic institutions and scholars with the purpose of appreciating the rich and multiform patrimony of Latin civilization.

To contribute to the accomplishment of such goals, following in the footsteps of my venerable predecessors, with the present Motu Proprio today I institute the Pontifical Academy of Latinity as a branch of the Pontifical Council for Culture. It is led by a president, who assisted by a secretary, appointed by me, and by an academic council.

The Latinitas Foundation, constituted by Pope Paul VI with the chirograph “Romani Sermonis” of June 30, 1976, no longer exists.

The present apostolic letter in the form of a Motu Proprio, with which I approve “ad experimentum,” for a 5 year period, the attached statute, I order to be published in the “Osservatore Romano.”

Given in Rome at St. Peter’s, November 10, 2012, the feast of St. Leo the Great, the 8th year of our pontificate.


* * *

Statute of the Pontifical Academy for Latin

Article 1

The Pontifical Academy for Latin for the promotion and appreciation of the Latin language and culture is instituted, with its main offices in the Vatican City State. The Academy is connected to the Pontifical Council for Culture of which it will be a branch.

 Article 2 

§ 1. The aims of the Academy are:

a) to promote the knowledge and study of the Latin language and literature in its classical, patristic, medieval and humanistic forms, especially in Catholic educational institutions in which both seminarians and priests are formed and instructed;

b) to promote in different spheres the use of Latin both as a written and spoken language.

§ 2. To achieve such ends the Academy proposes to:

a) undertake publications, meetings, study conferences and artistic representations;

b) create and support courses, seminars and other educational initiatives along with the Pontifical Higher Institute of Latinity;

c) educate young generations in the knowledge of Latin also through modern means of communication;

d) organize exhibitions, shows and competitions;

e) develop other activities and initiatives necessary for the achievement of the institutional goals.

Article 3 

The Pontifical Academy of Latinity is composed of a president, secretary, academic council and members, also called “academicians.” 

Article 4 

§ 1. The president of the Academy is appointed by the Supreme Pontiff for a 5 year term. The president can be reappointed for a second 5 year term.

§ 2. It is the president’s duty to:

a) represent the Academy legally also before any judicial or administrative authority whether canonical or civil;

b) convoke and preside over the academic council and the assembly of the members;

c) to participate, as a member, in the Council for the Coordination of the Pontifical Academies and to maintain relationships with the Pontifical Council for Culture;

d) supervise the activities of the Academy;

e) act as ordinary administration, with the help of the secretary, and as extraordinary administration in concert with the academic council and the Pontifical Council for Culture. 

Article 5 

§ 1. The secretary is appointed by the Supreme Pontiff, for a 5 year term. The secretary can be reappointed for a second 5 year term.

§ 2. The president, in the case of an absence or impediment, delegates the role of secretary to a substitute. 

Article 6 

§ 1. The academic council is composed of the president, the secretary and 5 council members. The council members are elected by the assembly of academicians for a 5 year term and can be reelected.

§ 2. The academic council, which is presided over by the president of the Academy, deliberates on matters of great importance for the Academy. It approves the schedule for a meeting of the Academy members, which should be held at least once a year. The council is convoked by the president at least once a year and, more than that, every time that it is requested by at least 3 members of the council. 

Article 7 

The president, with the agreement of the council, can appoint an archivist, who will act as librarian, and a treasurer. 

Article 8

§ 1. The Academy consists of ordinary members, who number no more than 50, called “academicians,” who are scholars and cultivators of the Latin language. They are appointed by the secretary of state. Having reached the age of 80, the ordinary members become emeriti.

§ 2. The ordinary academicians participate in the meeting of the Academy convoked by the president. The emeriti academicians may participate in the meeting without the right to vote.

§ 3. Besides the ordinary academicians, the president of the academy, with the agreement of the council, can appoint other members called “correspondents.” 

Article 9 

The patrimony of the defunct Foundation Latinitas and its activities, including the editing and publication of the review “Latinitas” are transferr
ed to the Pontifical Academy for Latin.

Article 10 

For those things not expressly provided for reference should be made to the current Code of Canon Law and to the laws of the Vatican City State.

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