Internet Offers Latin Courses for Priests and Others

Initiative of Salesian University

ROME, MARCH 12, 2002 ( Fewer and fewer priests know Latin nowadays, so the Salesian University of Rome has started a course on Internet, open to all who wish to register.

The initiative was presented Feb. 22 at a congress organized by the university to celebrate the 40th anniversary of John XXIII´s apostolic constitution “Veterum Sapientia,” on the importance of Latin in study programs for seminarians.

Salesian Father Biagio Amata, dean of the school of Christian and classical literature of the Salesian University, and the organizer of the congress, said that today more than ever “it cannot be permitted” that future priests not know Latin.

“This language is a patrimony of humanity entrusted in a particular way to the Catholic Church,” he exclaimed.

Even today, certain Holy See documents of a legal nature are published in Latin, with no official translations. Moreover, Latin is indispensable to have access to certain writings of the Fathers of the Church and other classical authors of Christianity who have not been translated.

“It is important that, in the framework of the five years of theological studies, a reasonable if not good knowledge of the classical languages can be acquired,” Father Amata added.

Given the above, he proposed the possibility of a reform of the “ratio studiorum” (program of studies) of the seminaries.

Today, vocations are increasingly awakened “at an adult age,” he said, and “not all seminarians have studied literature.”

For this reason, the school of classical literature of the Salesian University offers courses in Latin on its Web page (

Among those attending the congress were Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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