On 11 February, 1959, Msgr Antonio Bacci published an article in Osservatore Romano, entitled “What Language Will be Spoken at the Forthcoming Ecumenical Council?”

He noted that people were suggesting the use of popular languages and of simultaneous translations in order to overcome the difficulties that many bishops have in speaking Latin or in understanding it when it is pronounced in so many different ways.

Bacci acknowledged some merit in these objections, but to admit them would be for the Church to contribute to Latin’s decline. Nevertheless, modern languages could be used in conversations and small meetings, he said.

If the professors and students at the Gregorian University and other Roman institutions can make use of Latin, Bacci argued, surely the members of the Council could also do so. Even if they did not do so perfectly, it would force them to speak scientifically, precisely, and clearly for which scholastic Latin is wonderfully apt.

Moreover, Latin was an instrument of the Church’s universality that it had developed over the centuries to serve its needs.


Joseph Komonchak, The antepreparatory period (JA Komonchak)