College changes modus operandi to parchments printed in Church's official language
By C.S. Morrissey
Special to The B.C. Catholic
When you received your diploma, was it written in Latin? It's a university tradition that goes back to medieval times. This year Redeemer Pacific College decided to reinstate it.
For the first time in its history, for this year's convocation April 28, Redeemer Pacific printed its parchments in Latin.
Redeemer Pacific has been around since 1999 in Langley, and its courses count as credit towards degrees at Trinity Western University (TWU). RPC also offers certificate programs in Catholic liberal arts, Catholic theological studies, Catholic education, and also a Minor in Catholic studies as part of TWU's religious studies degree.
The certificates issued by RPC to graduates from its academic programs now use eloquent sentences braided together from the best university Latin found in centuries past.
Redeemer Pacific's decision to issue honours printed in Latin to its students is motivated by the teaching of the Catholic Church and especially its most recent Popes.
For example, Pope John Paul II taught: "The Roman Church has special obligations towards Latin, the splendid language of ancient Rome, and she must manifest them whenever the occasion presents itself" (Dominicae cenae, n. 10).
In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI said to a group of pilgrims: "My predecessors rightly encouraged the study of this great language in order to achieve a better understanding of the sound doctrine contained in the ecclesiastical and humanistic disciplines. In the same way, we encourage the continuation of this activity, so that as many people as possible may perceive the importance of this treasure and attain it."
Pope Benedict, expressing the wish for greater use of Latin in liturgical celebrations, has also written: "I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant" (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 62).
Pope John XXIII, in the apostolic constitution Veterum Sapientia of 1962, confirmed the great importance of Latin: "The Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular."
In that same document, Pope John also decreed: "No one is to be admitted to the study of philosophy or theology except he be thoroughly and perfectly grounded in this language and capable of using it."
Pope Paul VI, in the apostolic letter Sacrificium Laudis of 1966, wrote: "The Latin language is assuredly worthy of being defended with great care instead of being scorned; for the Latin Church it is the most abundant source of Christian civilization and the richest treasury of piety."
"We must not hold in low esteem these traditions of your fathers which were your glory for centuries."
As part of its efforts to hold Latin in esteem, Redeemer Pacific is now offering to all continuing education courses in Latin.
Details on tuition and textbooks are available at www.redeemerpacific.ca.
C.S. Morrissey is a professor of Latin and philosophy at Redeemer Pacific College.