Pope's Latinist pronounces death of a language





ROME -- For years it was derided by unwilling schoolboys for being "as dead as dead could be". Now, despite the Vatican's best efforts, the Pope's top adviser on Latin has reluctantly joined them by saying the language of St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas is almost extinct.

"It is dying in the Church. I'm not optimistic about Latin. The young priests and bishops are not studying it," said Fr Reginald Foster, 68, a Carmelite friar who was appointed the Papal Latinist 38 years ago by Pope Paul VI.

He said priests were no longer compelled to study Latin at seminaries, and now found it impossible to read vital theological tracts...

Yet even though Fr Foster, who has translated speeches and letters for four popes, says he can see no future for the language, he has just launched a new Latin Academy in Rome, near the Pantheon, in his final effort to prevent it from dying out. He hopes to attract 130 students a year, though he will not say how the new school is being funded.


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John Edward Philips - 2/3/2007

I admit I've only seen the films, but there was enough Latin even in the films that there should have been some interest generated among the younger generation. Maybe they didn't recognize it as Latin?