The Official Language?


Roman Catholicism teaches that she is THE church that was founded by Christ Himself. The Catholic faithful are to believe this de fide.

The Church was founded by the God-Man Jesus Christ.
--Ludwig Ott, Trans. Patrick Lynch, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, © 1960 Tan Books, p. 472

This false teaching is built upon a presupposed and self-serving interpretation (eisegesis) of Matthew 16:17-19, as amplified and exaggerated over time by the Magisterium:

The Vatican Council declared in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ: "The eternal Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (I Peter2,25) resolved, in order to give permanent duration to the saving work of the Redemption, to establish the Holy Church, in which all the faithful would be welded together as in the house of the Living God, by the bond of the one Faith and of the one Charity." D 1821. Pope Pius X declared in the Anti-modernist Oath (1910) that: "The Church was founded immediately and personally by the true and historical Christ during the time of His earthly life." D 2145." --Ibid.

What it all boils down to is that several of the early bishops of Rome got it into their heads that, just as the Roman emperor ruled over all the Empire, so should the leader of the church in Rome rule over all Christianity. Several early attempts to establish the supremacy of the Roman bishop were rejected, sometimes with derision.

In this article, it is not my intention to examine this dogma, for it has been proved false innumerable times on this board and elsewhere. I simply wanted to establish that it is RCC teaching that she was established by Christ Himself, some time before Pentecost, before the Christian Church was instituted.

Having declared the dogma of the origin of the RCC and provided Magisterial support for that teaching, Dr. Ott then declares:

The establishment of the Church by Christ means that He Himself laid down the essential elements of her teaching, her liturgy and her constitution. --Ibid.

Christians can point to the precise point in time when the Church came into existence; and where it happened. The true Church was born at that wonderful moment when the Holy Spirit came up those gathered in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). It was not a Catholic Mass. It was not a bloodless re-presentation of the Crucifixion.

If Christ Himself indeed established the 'essential elements of her teaching,' as Rome would have us believe, then perhaps we need to examine how the Roman Church dealt with that which she claims was given to her. Specifically, let us look to the language of the liturgy.

Not content to simply twist the Scriptures in order to create a moment in time, well before the true Church was started, when the RCC was established, the Magisterium also has given us a new name and meaning for what Christians and a great many pagans refer to as The Last Supper. Some Catholic historians/theologians would have the world believe that when Jesus of Nazareth hosted The Last Supper, He actually was celebrating a Catholic Mass -- a fact which apparently generates a bit of discomfort among Latinophiles within the RCC:

Deep and impassioned emotions were -- and for some still are -- bound up with the use of Latin in the mass, the valid ones mostly having to do with aesthetics. Some Latin diehards also cite tradition, but their ground is not strongly tenable. As the famed Father H.A. Reinhold would insistently remind, Latin was not the language of the first mass, the Last Supper; Hebrew and Aramaic were. --John Deedy, Retrospect, © 1990 Thomas More Press, p. 31

When examining the use of Latin in the Roman Catholic Church we are provided conflicting information from seemingly authoritative Catholic sources--a not unheard of situation any time light is shined on Romish doctrine. In the above citation, a respected Catholic church historian and former editor of a major Catholic newspaper calls upon the work of a well-known, frequently published and respected Roman Catholic priest to support his argument that in the very beginning of the RCC, Latin was not the language used by the church. Deedy had more to say on language in the dawn of Christianity:

Similarly, Latin was not the language of the masses of Saint Paul; Greek was. Latin was not even the language of the mass of the early Roman Church; for a couple of hundred years Greek was.

Latin was actually a third-century innovation to the mass, and why was it adopted? "One, because it was the vernacular of Rome," said Reinhold in an interview shortly before his death. "Two, because it was the language of commerce, law, literature, the army, and the administration of western Europe. In a word, it was the language of the people. If the people were to be reached, it had to be in words they understood."--Deedy, Op. Cit., pp. 31-32

Well, there we have the informed opinion of a Catholic historian and a Catholic priest on the matter of languages used in the early church. But is that good enough? I mean, the Roman Catholic Church is huge and more than a little difficult to get a handle on, even for Catholics and former Catholics. As one Catholic apologist wrote:

"...the Catholic Church is also the world's most controversial religious concept. Catholic belief is different, too different to be orthodox, say Protestants and Christian cultists. Catholic belief is too ethereal to be logical, and too strict to be enjoyable, say the humanists and agnostics. Hence to millions of people, Catholicism is not only a colossal success, it is also a colossal enigma. Of course, there has to be an explanation for these contradictory opinions--and there is an explanation: Protestants and others who have questions about Catholic belief too often make the mistake of going to the wrong place for the answers. Too often books written by religious incompetents are consulted. The result is incomplete and distorted information. With such information, one cannot help but see the Catholic faith as a colossal enigma.-- Paul Whitcomb, The Augustinian Club, Frequently Asked Questions, Columbia University, September 1995

And with these words, Columbia's Augustinian Club manages to discount just about every dissenting opinion on matters Roman Catholic. Clearly, any statement, deduction, exegesis or opinion that does not conform to the doctrine/dogma/practice de jour of the Catholic Church must have been drawn from the work of "religious incompetents" and must be based on "incomplete and distorted information." That this is a commonly used position taken by RCC apologists goes without saying. One really must admire them, however, for being willing to take a stand behind such a weak redoubt knowing that reasonable and honest observers must be laughing at them.

If one is to avoid inadvertently calling upon the work of religious incompetents, to whom should he turn for accurate and timely information concerning the Roman Catholic Church? Why, to a priest, of course.

The right place to go for information about Catholic belief--in fact the only place to go for complete and authoritative information--is the Catholic Church herself. As any detective will tell you, no investigation is quite so complete as an on-the-spot investigation. Hence, dear reader, if you are a Protestant, an unaffiliated Christian, or an agnostic, who wants to know the truth about Catholic belief, take this friendly advice: Seek out a Catholic priest and put your questions to him. You will find him a very understanding and obliging person.--Paul Whitcomb, Op. cit.

"Seek out a Catholic priest and put your questions to him." Now that makes a whole lot of sense. After all, Catholic priests are trained in Catholic seminaries and receive the 'sacrament' of Holy Orders. Stands to reason, doesn't it, that just about any Catholic priest should be able to provide reliable information concerning doctrinal matters pertaining to the Roman Catholic Church?

Is that the case? Do all the tens or hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholic priests scattered around the globe have the same understanding and acceptance of Roman Catholic doctrine and dogma? Malachi Martin was a priest, as was Father Feeney. Nestorius was a priest; he was Bishop of Constantinople, in fact. Sabellius was a priest in Libya. Josip Strossmayer was a priest; Bishop of Zagreb. Martin Luther was a priest. Yet all these priests and only GOd knows how many others incurred the wrath of Catholic Church.

Paul VI ripped the very fabric of Romish unity when he published Humanae Vitae, with the result that thousands of priests and who knows how many nuns renounced their vows. Can any Catholic apologist truly believe that all those who hold priestly office within the RCC are of the same mind in all matters dealing with Catholic doctrine, dogma and practice?

Not to fear. Apologist Whitcomb provides an alternative suggestion for those seeking reliable information concerning Catholicism. He suggest one go to a priest…

"Or read this little booklet. This booklet was written by a Catholic who knows the questions you are likely to ask, as well as the answers, because once he, too, was outside of the Catholic Church, looking in. The questions in this booklet are basically the same ones he put to a Catholic priest, and the answers are basically the same ones given him by that priest. Read this booklet; then forget all the fiction you have heard about the Catholic Church, for you will have the gospel truth.--Paul Whitcomb, Op. cit.

And here, I submit, is the reason why some would claim the RCC is an enigma: just about anyone can claim to be an authority on the doctrine/dogma/practices of the church and receive someone's blessing as being authoritive and reliable. On their FAQ web page, The Augustinian Club have, in effect, added their seal to the Nihil Obstat and imprimatur on a little booklet written by a man named Paul Whitcomb. In other words, they have privately interpreted and at least tacitly approved a secular Catholic apologist's private interpretation of the Magisterium's interpretation of Scripture and Tradition.

How many times have visitors to Catholic message boards read the scathing words of Roman Catholic apologists as they vilified what they refer to as the Protestant penchant for personal interpretation of the Scriptures? It bears repeating here that when debating or disputing over an issue, it is never a good idea for one to use an argument that can be turned against himself.

Back to the issue at hand, that being the use of Latin as the official language of the Roman Catholic Church. As shown above, at least one Catholic historian and at least one Catholic priest take the position that Aramaic and Hebrew were the languages used in the earliest days of the Christian church, with Greek becoming the favored language for Christian teaching and worship for the first few centuries. Can that be supported from the Scriptures? Pretty much so. We know from the Scriptures, from the writings of Josephus and Philo and others that the first Christians were Jews and that they met with other Jews in the synagogues to study and worship on Shabbos. The languages in the synagogues were Hebrew, the language in which the Tanakh and the Talmud were written, and the vernacular, the language of study and into which the readings from Torah were translated. Some may be surprised to learn that Hebrew was not universally, nor even commonly, spoken among Jews in Jesus' time. That Greek was used in the early church should be evident from the fact that all the New Testament was written in that language.

Since we have no priest on tap for questioning, we must choose the alternative method proposed by Whitcomb; consult the little pamphlet that the Augustinian Club adapted for use on their FAQ web page.

Why is Latin the language of the Church? How can the congregation understand the Mass whenever it is said in Latin?

The Catholic Church began in the days of the Roman Empire, and the language spoken throughout that Empire was Latin. St. Peter moved the seat of Church government from Antioch to Rome, and the Catholic Church government remains centered there to this very day. It was only natural that Latin became the language of the Church. As the centuries elapsed, for example, Latin still remained the language of the educated classes--even into the 18th and 19th centuries. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that Latin should still be the official language of the Catholic Church. It simply always has been.--Paul Whitcomb, The Catholic Church Has the Answer, © 1986 TAN Books; Originally published by Loyola Book Co. in 1961 w/Nihil Obstat and imprimatur, Formatted in HTML and published on the World Wide Web by The Augustine Club at Columbia University, September 1995. ) [Emphasis not in the original]

Whoa! Whitcomb's declaration that Latin has always been the official language of the Catholic Church conflicts with the position of Catholic historian John Deedy and and Catholic priest H.A. Reinhold. And what is the individual earnestly seeking truth to do? He has been told to seek answers from a priest or this pamphlet, which contains 'gospel truth,' yet here he is forced to deal with conflicting information from the two sources he is told can be trusted.

What can he do? He must exercise discernment and discover for himself where the truth lies. He must interpret what obviously has not been infallibly interpreted for him. Hopefully, one consequence of his examination of the sources and information will lead him to question the reliability of other information he has received from reliable Roman Catholic sources.

The pamphlet continues:

Furthermore, a universal language greatly facilitates the unity of the Church. Ecumenical Councils, for example, have always been held in Latin, enabling bishops from all over the world to communicate with each other easily.--Paul Whitcomb, Op. cit.

Whitcomb speaks of Latin as though it were the universal language of the Roman Catholic Church, suggesting that all clergy and lay cognoscenti are able to communicate easily in that language. That this is not the case may be seen by looking at Vatican II.

Latin was the language of Vatican Council II, to be sure. The Council, however, was to bury Latin as the universal language of the church.--John Deedy, Facts, Myths & Maybes, © Thomas Moore, p. 251

Actually, judging by the experiences of Richard Cardinal Cushing, all Vatican II did was drive a few more nails into Latin's coffin.

The process began innocently, with prelates like Boston's Richard Cardinal Cushing complaining of being shut out from the Council's business due to a language barrier. It's "all Greek to me," Cushing remarked mockingly of the Latin proceedings. When asked why he had not intervened on a particular subject, he retorted that linguistically he represented "the Church of Silence." He was not alone in feeling silenced by Latin. Cushing campaigned for simultaneous translation of the Latin presentations into the various vernaculars, offering to pay for the installation himself, if necessary. He won. The system was installed in time for the Council's 1963 session.--Deedy, Ibid, p. 251

Could it be that the 'gospel truth' the Augustinian Club assures visitors to its FAQ may be found Paul Whitcomb's pamphlet do not coincide with reality. On the other hand, it would appear that at least some of the information in that pamphlet indeed does match the false gospel of Roman Catholicism. In any event, the Council produced Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which made it possible to use the vernacular in most RCC worship and administration.

Times change, and so does the 'gospel truth' as far as Romanism is concerned.

Interestingly, the Vatican still issues papal and other important documents in Latin, though translations now are available for most, at least that is my understanding. One of the arguments I have seen used by Catholic apologists when they are backed into a corner by citations from RCC official publications is that the translation their antagonist used was faulty. They have demanded that I provide the citation in the Latin, supposedly so they might make a more reliable translation themselves. A red herring; of course. I have also been told that only the Latin version of a Church document is official, no doubt because of the unreliability of Vatican translation services. They claim that the original intent of a document can be lost in the translation process.

This is interesting, when one considers that a recent pope, John Paul II, wrote all his papers in Polish. They were then translated into Latin for distribution and publication. Does this mean that the Roman Catholic Church is missing the intent of this pope's writings because they are received in translations? Interesting questions. If translations are to be considered of questionable value, I have to wonder why the Vatican offers translations of many of its documents in a variety of languages. Perhaps no one told the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that only the Latin versions of these documents are totally reliable.

Roman Catholicism is a man-made religious system and subject to all the caprices of human ingenuity. The Holy Scriptures, on the other hand, are God-breathed and immutable. Against which authority do you measure your faith?

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