Latin's revival

'I wish we could go back fifty years,' said the RC priest on the Today programme. Not another recruit for the Society of St Pius X, but the Vatican's Latin translator mourning the declining use of Latin in papal speeches. 'Not only has Latin clarity, but it makes speeches more concise.' Surely this is the thinking behind the old-style Anglican Ordinal's requirement that clergy be found 'learned in the Latin tongue'.

However, the tide may be turning. It is possible that the government will include Latin in the language element of the new Diploma courses. Where New Labour leads can New CofE be far behind?

The return of Latinity, allied to brevity, would lead to three-fold rejoicing if accompanied by the scrapping of the Codex de Moribus and the birth of Provincia Tertia.

Even if joy was not made complete by the General Synod following the Code into oblivion, the shortening of its proceedings, if all members spoke Latin, would free up enough cash to write off the deficit from Rowan's Roundabout, aka the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

Cantuar himself would also gain. As a Bard, he is fluent in Welsh, a language which mutates the spelling of words in certain situations, producing forms, which, at first sight, appear completely different from the original. If the ABC is unconsciously mutating whilst ruminating, this may explain why some find him difficult to follow - and Rupert Shortt needs to write two books explaining what Rowan is really saying. Latin could be the Archbishop's deus ex machina. He would no longer give 'an uncertain sound' but become the trumpet to rally the CofE. Fair play, Latin was good enough for another Celt, Gildas, living in equally unsettling times.

Simon Heans' liberal colleague [ND January] attacked FiF champions for indulging in 'one long whinge'.

As the Vulgate has it, 'Totum spiritum suum profert stultus: sapiens differt et reservat in posterum' [Prov. 29.11].

FiF speakers and writers whingeing? Never! However, occasionally banging on too long? With more debates ahead, perhaps the liberal had a verb. sap. after all?

Alan Edwards

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