|Bl. Pope John XXIII|
I've already noted that the English version of the Code of Canon Law softens the Latin requirement on seminarians: instead of being 'very skilled in' ('bene calleant'), they are only required to 'understand it well'. 'Calleo' does not, and cannot, mean 'understand'.
In the same post I also noted that Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Letter 'Sacrificium Laudis' is on the website only in Latin, and, er, Italian. This heartfelt plea for the retention of Latin in the Office, addressed to the Superiors of Religious Orders, was completely ignored, with exactly the disastrous results for vocations which the document itself predicted. You'll have to go the LMS website to read it.
Astonishingly, the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum still has no official English translation; if you look at the list of documents, it is available only in Latin and, er, Hungarian. The only semi-official English version is the one produced by the Vatican Information Service, whose deficiencies (some now corrected) were the subject of much discussion at the time of its promulgation.
Perhaps the most bizarre thing of all is that Bl. Pope John XXIII's Apostolic Constitution 'Veterum Sapientia' of 1962, promoting the use of Latin, is not available in English, but only Latin and, er, Spanish. Among different categories of papal document (Motu Proprios, Instructions, Apostolic Letters, Encyclical Letters, Apostolic Constitutions) this type has the highest solemnity and importance. As well (in this case) as having a teaching function addressed to the whole world, it has a legislative function. In the case, it contains specific, numbered commands to bishops and others. A recent Apostolic Constitution we are all familiar with is 'Anglicanorum Coetibus'.
It is not as though English translations are not available. One was produced shortly after its promulgation by the CTS, by a certain Rev H.E. Winstone, M.A., and as far as I can see this is the one on the Adoremus and Papal Encylcicals Online websites. At least I think so, because this version has the same howlingly awful translation of a key passage (I haven't compared the whole thing line by line).
Suae enim sponte naturae lingua Latina ad provehendum apud populos quoslibet omnem humanitatis cultum est peraccommodata: cum invidiam non commoveat, singulis gentibus se aequabilem praestet, nullius partibus faveat, omnibus postremo sit grata et amica.
The Winstone translation gives this as:
Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all.
Really? Does 'grata et amica' mean 'acceptable'? You don't have to be an Olympic Latinist to see something odd is going on here. Furthermore, where does 'equally' come from? It seems to have been left over from 'aequabilem praestet' two clauses earlier. ('Postremo' just means 'finally', 'to sum up'.)
Another website presents a much better translation (though wrongly saying that the document is an encyclical).
Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every culture among diverse peoples, for it gives no rise to jealousies, it does not favor any one group, but presents itself with equal impartiality, gracious and friendly to all.
Why was Winstone so reluctant to translate what Bl Pope John actually said? The importance of Latin does not boil down to some tedious practical consideration, that it is 'equally acceptable to all', like, I suppose, Esperanto (one might think: and also equally unacceptable!) No: Latin is gracious and friendly, it is part of our universal Catholic culture, it is its beauty, majesty, and sacred dignity which raises it above other languages for our attention.
Come to the LMS Latin course to experience it for yourself! July 23-29.