APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION ON PROMOTING THE STUDY OF
Of His Holiness John XXIII Pope by Divine Providence
John, Bishop Servant of the Servants of God For a Perpetual
[THE VALUE AND IMPORTANCE OF LATIN]
[1. The Church's Heritage]
 THE WISDOM OF THE ANCIENT WORLD, enshrined in Greek and Roman
literature, and the truly memorable teaching of ancient peoples,
served, surely, to herald the dawn of that gospel which God's
Son, 'the judge and teacher of grace and truth, the light and
guide of the human race', 1 proclaimed on earth. Such, at any
rate, was the view of the Church's Fathers and Doctors. In these
outstanding literary monuments of antiquity they recognized man's
spiritual preparation for the supernatural riches which Jesus
Christ communicated to mankind 'to give history its fulfilment'.
2 Thus the inauguration of Christianity did not mean the obliteration
of man's past achievements. Nothing was lost that was in any way
true, right, noble, and beautiful.
 The Church has ever held the literary evidences of this wisdom
in the highest esteem. She values especially the Greek and Latin
languages, in which wisdom itself is cloaked, as it were, in a
vesture of gold. She has likewise welcomed the use of other venerable
languages, which flourished in the East, for these too have had
no little influence on the progress of humanity and civilization.
By their use in sacred liturgies and versions of Holy Scripture
they have remained in force in certain regions even to the present
day, bearing constant witness to the living voice of antiquity.
 But amid this variety of languages a primary place must surely
be given to that language which had its origins in Latium and
later proved so admirable a means for the spreading of Christianity
throughout the West. And since in God's special providence this
language united so many nations together under the authority of
the Roman Empire - and that for so many centuries - it also became
the rightful language of the Apostolic See. 3 It was thus preserved
for posterity and was instrumental in joining the Christian peoples
of Europe together in the close bonds of unity.
[2. The cultural value of Latin]
. Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every
form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies.
It does not favour any one nation, but presents itself with equal
impartiality to all, and is equally acceptable to all. Nor must
we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin's formal structure.
Its 'concise, varied, and harmonious style, full of majesty and
dignity', 4 makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of expression.
[3. Its religious value]
 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
enquiry 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 until the end of time ...
of its very nature requires a language which is universal, immutable,
and non-vernacular.' 7
[4. The Church's living language]
 Since 'every Church must assemble round the Roman Church'.
8 and since the Supreme Pontiffs have 'true episcopal power, ordinary
and immediate, over each and every Church and over each and every
Pastor, as well as over the faithful' 9 of every rite and every
language, it seems particularly desirable that the instrument
of mutual communication be uniform and universal, especially between
the Apostolic See and the Churches which use the same Latin rite.
When, therefore, the Roman Pontiffs wish to instruct the Catholic
world, or the Congregations of the Roman Curia handle affairs
or draw up decrees which concern the whole body of the faithful,
they invariably make use of Latin, for this is the 'mother tongue'
acceptable to countless nations.
 Furthermore, the Church's language must be not only universal
but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and
no single one of them is superior to the others in authority.
Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an
unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied
as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient
clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language that
could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the
exact meaning of other renderings. But Latin is indeed such a
language. It is set and unchanging. It has long since ceased to
be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which
are the normal result of daily, popular use. Certain Latin words,
it is true, acquired new meanings as Christian teaching developed
and needed to be explained and defended, but these new meanings
have long since become accepted and firmly established.[(c) Non-vernacular]
 Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing
that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ
the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language
it uses should be noble and majestic, and non-vernacular.
[5. Other advantages of Latin: its educational value]
 In addition, the Latin language 'can be called truly Catholic'.
10 It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic
See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed
'e treasure . . . of incomparable worth'. 11 It is a general passport
to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity
and the documents of the Church's teaching. 12 It is also a most
effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past
and of the future in wonderful continuity.
 There can be no doubt as to the formative and educational
1 value of the language of the Romans and of great literature
generally. It is a most effective training for the pliant minds
of youth. It exercises, matures and perfects the principal faculties
of mind and spirit. It sharpens the wits and gives keenness of
judgment. It helps the young mind to grasp things accurately,
and develop a true sense of values. It is also a means for teaching
highly intelligent thought and speech.
[6. The Church's policy with regard to Latin]
 It will be quite clear from these considerations why the
Roman Pontiffs have so often extolled the excellence and importance
of Latin, and why they have prescribed its study and use by the
secular and regular clergy, forecasting the dangers that would
result from its neglect.
 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 honour and to do all We can to promote its study and use. The
employment of Latin has recently been contested in some 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,
 It seems to Us We made Our own views on this subject sufficiently
plain in Our address to some eminent Latin scholars. 'It is a
matter of regret', We said, 'that so many people, unaccountably
dazzled by the marvellous progress of science, are taking it upon
themselves to oust or restrict the study of Latin and other kindred
subjects ... Yet in spite of the urgent need for science, Our
own view is that the very contrary policy should be followed.
The greatest impression is made on the mind by those things which
correspond more closely to man's nature and dignity, and therefore
the greater zeal should be shown in the acquisition of whatever
educates and enobles the mind. Otherwise poor mortal creatures
may well become like the machines they build - cold, hard, and
devoid of love'. 14
[PROVISIONS FOR THE PROMOTION OF THE STUDY OF LATIN]
 With the foregoing considerations in mind, to which We have
given careful thought, We now, in the full consciousness of Our
office and in virtue of Our authority, decree and command the
1. Bishops and superiors-general of religious orders shall be
at pains to ensure that in their seminaries, and in their schools
where adolescents are trained for the priesthood, all shall studiously
observe the Apostolic See's decision in this matter and obey these
Our prescriptions most carefully.
2. In the exercise of their paternal care they shall be on their
guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction, being eager for innovation
(novarum rerum studios), writes against the use of Latin in the
teaching of the higher sacred studies or in the liturgy, or through
prejudice makes light of the Holy See's will in this regard or
interprets it fa1sely.
3. As is laid down in Canon Law (can. 1364) or commanded by Our
Predecessors, before Church students begin their ecclesiastica1
studies proper they shall be given a sufficiently lengthy course
of instruction in Latin by highly competent masters following
a method designed to teach them the language with the utmost accuracy.
'And that too for this reason: lest later on, when they begin
their major studies ... they are unable by reason of their ignorance
of the language to gain a full understanding of the doctrines
or take part in those scholastic disputations which constitute
so excellent an intellectual training for young men in the defence
of the faith.' 15 We wish the same rule to apply to those whom
God calls to the priesthood later on in life and whose classical
studies have either been neglected or conducted too superficially.
No one is to be admitted to the study of philosophy or theology
except he be thoroughly and perfectly grounded in this language
and capable of using it.
4. Wherever the study of Latin has suffered partial eclipse through
the assimilation of the academic programme to that which obtains
in State schools, with the result that the instruction given is
no longer so thorough and well grounded as formerly, there the
traditional method of teaching this language shall be completely
restored. Such is Our will, for there should be no doubt in anyone's
mind about the necessity of keeping a strict watch over the course
of studies followed by Church students; and that not only as regards
the number and kind of subjects they study, but also as regards
the length of time devoted to the teaching of these subjects.
Should circumstances of time and place demand the addition of
other subjects to the curriculum besides the usual ones, then
either the course of studies must be lengthened, or these additional
subjects must be condensed or their study relegated to another
5. In accordance with numerous previous instructions, the major
sacred sciences shall be taught in Latin, which, as we know from
many centuries of use, 'must be considered most suitable for explaining
with the utmost facility and clarity the most difficult and profound
ideas and concepts'. 16 For apart from the fact that it has long
since been enriched with a vocabulary of appropriate and unequivocal
terms best calculated to safeguard the integrity of the Catholic
faith, it also serves in no slight measure to prune away useless
verbiage. Hence the professors of these sciences in universities
or seminaries are required to speak Latin and to make use of textbooks
written in Latin. Those whose ignorance of Latin makes it difficult
for them to obey these instructions shall gradually be replaced
by professors who are suited to this task. Any difficulties that
may be advanced by students or professors must be overcome either
by the patient insistence of the bishops or religious superiors,
or by the good will of the professors.
6. Since Latin is the Church's living language, it must be adequate
to daily increasing linguistic requirements. It must be furnished
with new words that are apt and suitable for expressing modern
things, words that will be uniform and universal in their application
and constructed in conformity with the genius of the ancient Latin
tongue. Such was the method followed by the sacred Fathers and
the best scholastic writers. To this end, therefore, We commission
the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities to set
up a Latin Academy staffed by an international body of competent
Latin and Greek professors. The principal aim of this Academy
- like the national academies founded to promote their respective
languages - will be to superintend the proper development of Latin,
augmenting the Latin lexicon where necessary with words which
conform to the particular character and colour of the language.
It will also conduct schools for the study of Latin of every era,
particularly the Christian one. The aim of these schools will
be to impart a fuller understanding of Latin and the ability to
use it and to write it with proper elegance. They will exist for
those who are destined to teach Latin in seminaries and ecclesiastical
colleges, or to write decrees and judgments or conduct correspondence
in the ministries of the Holy See, diocesan curias, and the offices
of religious orders.
7. Latin is closely allied to Greek both in formal structure and
the importance of its extant writings. Hence - as Our Predecessors
have frequently ordained - future ministers of the altar must
be instructed in Greek in the lower and middle schools. Thus,
when they come to study the higher sciences - and especially if
they are aiming for a degree in Sacred Scripture or.theology -
they will be enabled to follow the Greek sources of scholastic
philosophy and understand them correctly; and not only these,
but also the original texts of Sacred Scripture, the liturgy,
and the sacred Greek Fathers. 17
8. We further commission the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries
and Universities to prepare a syllabus for the teaching of Latin
which all shall faithfully observe. The syllabus will be designed
to give those who follow it an adequate understanding of the language
and its use. Bishops in conference may indeed rearrange this syllabus
if circumstances warrant, but they must never curtail it or alter
its nature. Ordinaries may not take it upon themselves to put
their own proposals into effect until these have been examined
and approved by the Sacred Congregation.  Finally, in virtue
of Our Apostolic Authority, We will and command that all the decisions,
decrees, proclamations and recommendations of this Our Constitution
remain firmly established and ratified, notwithstanding anything
to the contrary however worthy of special note.
Given at Rome, at St Peter's, on the feast of St.Peter's Throne,
on the 22nd day of February, in the year 1962, the fourth of Our
JOHN PP. XXIII
1. Tertullian, ApoL 21; MIgne, P.L. I, p.394.
2. Eph. 1:10.
3. Epist. S. Cong. Stud. Vehementer sane, ad Ep. universos, 1
July 1908; Ench. Cler., N. 820. Cf. also Epist. Ap. Pii XI, Unigenitus
Dei Filius, 19 Mar. 1924; A.A.S. xvi (1924), p.l41.
4. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 Aug. 1922; A.A.S.
XIV (1922), pp. 452-453.
5. Pius XI, Motu Proprio Litterarum latinarum 20 Oct. 1924; A.A.S.
XVI (1924), p.417.
6. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 Aug. 1922; A.A.S.
XIV (1922), p.452.
8. St Iren., Adv. Haer. 3, 3, 2; Migne, P.G. VII, p.848.
9. Cf. C.I.C., can. 218, sec. 2.
10. Cf. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 Aug. 1922; A.A.S.
XIV (1922), p. 453.
11. Pius XII Alloc. Magis quam, 23 Nov. 1951, A.A.S. XLIII (1951),
12. Leo XIII, Epist. Encycl. Depuis le jour, 8 Sept. 1899, Acta
Leonis XIII, XIX (1899), p. 166.
13. Cf. Collectio Lacensis, especially: vol. III, p. 1018. (Conc.
Prov. Westmonasteriense, a. 1859); vol. IV, p. 29 (Cone. Prov.
Parisiense, a. 1849) vol. IV, pp. l49, 153 (Col. Prov. Rhemense,
a. 1849); vol. IV, pp. 359, 36; (Cone. Prov. Avenionense, a. 1849);
vol. IV, pp. 394, 396 (Cone. Prov. Burdigalense, a. 1850); vol.
V, p.61 (Cone. Strigoniense, a. 1858); vol. V, p. 664 (Cone. Prov.
Colocense, a. 1863); vol. VI, p.619 (Synod. Vicariatus Suchnensis,
14. International Convention for the Promotion of Ciceronian Studies,
7 Sept. 1959, in Discorsi Messaggi Collogui of the Holy Father
John XXIII, I, pp. 234; cf. also Address to Roman pilgrims of
the Diocese of Piacenza, 15 April 1959: L'Osservatore Rom., 16
April 1959; Epist. Pater misericordiarum, 22 Aug. 1961, A.A.S.
LIII (1961), p. 677; Address given on the occasion of the solemn
inauguration of the College of the Philippine Islands at Rome,
7 Oct. 1961: L'Osservatore Rom. 9-10 Oct. 1961; Epist. Iucunda
laudatio, 8 Dec. 1961: A.A.S. LIII (1961, p.812.
15. Pius XI, Epist. Ap. Officiorum omnium, 1 Aug. 1922, A.A.S.
XIV (1922), p. 453.
16. Epist. S. C. Studiorum, Vehementer sane, 1 July 1908; Ench.
Cler., n. 821.
17. Leo XIII, Litt. Encycl. Providentissimus Deus, 18 Nov. 1893,
Acta Leonis XIII, XIII (1893), p. 342, Epist. Plane quidem intelligis,
20 May 1885, Acta Leonis XIII, V, pp. 63-64, Pius XII, Alloc.
Magis quam, 23 Sept. 1951, A.A.S. XLIII (1951), p. 737.