.- The Catholic Church’s chief liturgist told a St. Louis congregation on Saturday that Latin should be used more frequently in the liturgy.
The Latin language is currently “in the ecclesiastical refrigerator ... Mass today should be in Latin from time to time,” Cardinal Francis Arinze reportedly told more than 250 people at the Gateway Liturgical Conference, sponsored by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Cardinal Arinze, 74, is the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He was the keynote speaker on the final day of the conference.
In his address, titled "Language in the Latin Rite Liturgy: Latin and Vernacular," Cardinal Arinze said the early church used Greek but it was "Latinized" in the fourth century, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
"The Roman rite has Latin as its official language," he said. The great religions of the world all "hold on" to their founding languages: Judaism to Hebrew and Aramaic, Islam to Arabic, Hindu to Sanskrit and Buddhism to Pali, he reportedly said.
Latin "suits a Church that is universal. It has a stability modern languages don't have," he said. The Cardinal also said it’s no small matter for priests or bishops from around the world to be able to speak to each other in a universal language and lauded the possibility that "a million students" gathered for World Youth Day every few years could "say parts of the Mass in Latin."
He suggested that larger parishes offer Mass in Latin at least once a week and that smaller, rural parishes offer it at least once a month. Homilies, he said, should always be in the vernacular.
Any priest can celebrate the Vatican II “Novus Ordo” Mass in Latin, though permission must be obtained from a local bishop to celebrate the Latin Mass in the old, Tridentine Rite. Last month, Vatican officials said Pope Benedict XVI would soon loosen restrictions on the Tridentine Mass, allowing individual priests to celebrate it without the approval of the local bishop.