Anyone interested in the truth regarding Pope Saint John XXIII, please take a few minutes to read this. Much attention has been given to this Saint since his canonization in 2014. He is often described as a progressive who opened the doors to change, but what in fact did this holy shepherd actually have to say about the preservation of Latin and its permanent role in the life of the Catholic Church? His overlooked Apostolic Constitution, Veterum Sapientia, offers striking passages (a few of which are posted below) that demonstrate this Pope’s unbending insistence on the importance of Latin. It is crystal clear from his writings that Latin is not simply to be dusted off for occasional ceremonial utterances, only to be swiftly locked away in favor of the mother tongue. He was deeply concerned with its restoration to a “position of honor.” What would he say today? (Thanks to Adoremus for providing this translation on its site.)
… For these reasons the Apostolic See has always been at pains to preserve Latin, deeming it worthy of being used in the exercise of her teaching authority “as the splendid vesture of her heavenly doctrine and sacred laws.”5 She further requires her sacred ministers to use it, for by so doing they are the better able, wherever they may be, to acquaint themselves with the mind of the Holy See on any matter, and communicate the more easily with Rome and with one another.
Thus the “knowledge and use of this language,” so intimately bound up with the Church’s life, “is important not so much on cultural or literary grounds, as for religious reasons.”6 These are the words of Our Predecessor Pius XI, who conducted a scientific inquiry into this whole subject, and indicated three qualities of the Latin language which harmonize to a remarkable degree with the Church’s nature. “For the Church, precisely because it embraces all nations and is destined to endure to the end of time … of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable, and non-vernacular.”7 …
And We also, impelled by the weightiest of reasons — the same as those which prompted Our Predecessors and provincial synods 13 — are fully determined to restore this language to its position of honor, and to do all We can to promote its study and use. The employment of Latin has recently been contested in many quarters, and many are asking what the mind of the Apostolic See is in this matter. We have therefore decided to issue the timely directives contained in this document, so as to ensure that the ancient and uninterrupted use of Latin be maintained and, where necessary, restored.
So Latin is to be used precisely because of the diversity of cultures within the Church. Today, almost everywhere, the wholesale neglect of Latin is justified because of the “diversity” of cultures and languages within the Church. Saint John XXIII, echoing Pius XI, gives us a more satisfying answer in light of a true understanding of universality.
This saintly Pope is teaching us. Who is paying attention?