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Last Updated: Friday, 22 April, 2005, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Latin makes Vatican City comeback
By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

Cardinals celebrate Mass in Latin
Cardinals and Vatican watchers are having to brush up on their Latin
In the new Vatican of Pope Benedict XVI, Latin is in and Polish, the language of John Paul II, is out.

Latin may be considered a dead language today, but for many centuries it was the language of the Catholic Church.

Forty years ago the Vatican decided to drop Latin as the official language of the mass and switch to the vernacular.

In the 1990s, even bishops stopped talking to each other in Latin when they went to official meetings at the Vatican.

When he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI originally supported the idea of dropping the Latin mass.

Now he is Pope, he has apparently had a rethink and Italians are struggling to keep up.

Latin language courses at the Papal University are already oversubscribed.

Italian schools dropped Latin as a compulsory language many years ago and classics pundits are being called in to explain the terminology on television.

Vatican watchers are reaching again for their Latin primers.

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