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Vatican puts Latin online

Latest update : 2008-05-09

The Vatican's official website now features a Latin section, alongside the site's six modern languages. The pages called 'Sancta Sedes' (Holy See) are intended to remind viewers that Latin is still the official language of the Roman Catholic Church.

Latin, the official language of the Roman Catholic Church, on Friday took its place on the Vatican's official website alongside six of its modern descendants.

The new section at, entitled "Sancta Sedes" (The Holy See), so far offers only basic Church documents such as the Bible, the catechism, Canon Law, the texts of the Second Vatican Council and papal speeches dating back to Pope John XXIII (1958-1963).

Vatican press statements, journalists were relieved to learn, will continue to be issued in Italian, and sometimes in English or French.

These languages, along with Spanish, German and Portuguese, all have sections on the Vatican website.

In June 2007, the Vatican press corps was caught off guard when a papal decree was issued only in Latin. After a few moments of panic during which the few journalists with knowledge of the ancient language tried gamely to interpret the document, the Vatican press service issued an Italian version.

Benedict XVI encourages increased use of Latin, notably in seminary schools where priests are trained.

The pontiff, elected three years ago, addressed his inaugural speech to cardinals in Latin on April 20, 2005.

Date created : 2008-05-09