Cardinal Bacci on the vernacular

We have remarked before that one of the major problems that confronts Catholics who want to know more about the Second Vatican Council is the relative unavailability of crucial documents. Certainly, the conciliar constitutions, decrees, and declarations are all freely available on the internet in many modern languages. But the working documents for the Council remain hidden away in obscure volumes, usually in Latin. Most important among these documents are the Acta Synodalia—the floor debates, as it were, of the Council. Matthew Hazell has been making digital copies of the Latin Acta available, slowly; however, for those without Latin, that is not a huge improvement.

Translator Timothy Wilson, however, has made an important contribution to the discussion by translating Antonio Cardinal Bacci’s October 24, 1962 intervention, De lingua latina in sacra Liturgia, into English. The introduction to the translation, which is published at Rorate Caeli, reminds the reader that Cardinal Bacci was one of the sponsors of the Short Critical Study on the New Order of Mass—the so-called Ottaviani Intervention. (The Dominican Guérard des Lauriers—who advised Pius XII on the dogma of the Assumption and who would himself become the subject of some controversy in time—was one of the key authors of the Short Critical Study, in point of fact.) Somewhat strangely, the introduction omits to mention that Cardinal Bacci was one of the preeminent Latinists in the Church when he gave his address to the Council, having served nearly thirty years as the secretary for briefs to princes in the Curia, which meant that, under Pius XI, Pius XII, and John XXIII, Bacci was responsible for the Latin text of the more solemn papal documents and statements. At any rate, Wilson’s translation gives us a window into the thinking of an influential Latinist, recognizing, in large part, the harms that would befall the Mass once the vernacular was introduced into it.

Read the whole thing there.