Friday, June 27, 2003

Someone very kindly sent me this excerpt from an interview with Cardinal Arinze that's in the new issue of Inside the Vatican, although not online yet.

I think it is a pity that many people in a parish never -- or rarely -- hear the Latin Mass. In Latin texts they would hear the very same words spoken that St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, Blessed Duns Scotus, and so many more recent saints, like Thomas More and Therese of Lisieux, would have spoken. This is a source of communion over time, it is an aid to sensing and believing in the mystical communion of the Church throughout the ages.

Today, when we have international congresses, we have no common language in which to pray and sing, so we use several -- English, Italian, French and so forth. Praying and celebrating the liturgy in Latin would be a beautiful _expression of our unity, of our oneness in the faith. Is there to be no symbol of our faith, no vehicle allowing us to express our shared faith with one voice?

The great Latin expressions and prayers are not awkward and distant; they are very near to us. Think of the words "Verbum caro factum est" ("the Word was made flesh"); "Agnus Dei" ("the Lamb of God"); "Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus" ("Holy, holy, holy"). These words are not difficult. And they are rooted in our tradition. Are we to forget all that? Have we no memory as a Church?

I worked in the field of interreligious dialogue for 18 years. Each of the major religions of the world has a collective memory, including the memory of an original, sacred language, which they do not hesitate to use.

The Muslims regard the Koran in Arabic as the official text. Some Muslims are able to recite the whole Koran by heart in Arabic. This is a remarkable testimony to their diligence in study, and to their love of the Arabic language in which the Koran was written.

In my own country of Nigeria, we have some 240 languages. Under such conditions, what language should we use for our common liturgical gatherings? Why should there not be a wider use of a traditional and universal language like Latin?