On February 24, 1980, Pope John Paul II wrote to all the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church a lengthy Apostolic Letter in Latin on the Eucharist. Part of paragraph 10 of this letter reads as follows:
“On the other hand there are not lacking those whose formation in the old Latin Liturgy was very sharp (acriter) and they perceive the loss of this “one language”, which throughout the world was a sign of the unity of the Church and which by its great innate dignity aroused a deep sense of the Mystery of the Eucharist. Therefore the feelings and desires of this kind of a soul are to be accepted, not only in a benign and friendly manner, but also they are to be accepted with reverence and, as far as possible, they are to be satisfied, as you have been warned to do elsewhere even in the new regulations. Indeed the Roman Church is bound by a very special obligation to the Latin language, that beautiful speech of the ancient city of Rome, and should show it off whenever the occasion presents itself.”
Of interest to our readers would be the recent text of the letter of Cardinal Knox to the bishops of the world. Cardinal Knox is in charge of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship. This Sacred Congregation is the administrative body which oversees Divine worship around the world for the Catholic Church under Pope John Paul II.
The text of the letter is as follows:
“In order to be able to provide the Holy Father with objective information I herewith submit to you certain questions falling within the competence of this Congregation and relating to the implementation of the reform of the liturgy.
This Congregation expresses its gratitude and its appreciation for your cooperation and will be obliged for all data which can contribute to a comprehensive assessment.
1. a) In the diocese entrusted to your pastoral solicitude, are Masses being celebrated in Latin?
b) Does the demand for Latin in the liturgy persist? Is it growing? Is it decreasing?
2. Are there persons or groups in your diocese who insist on having a Mass in Latin celebrated according to the old rite (Tridentine Mass)?
What strength and importance have these groups? What are the motives prompting such positions and requests?
I would be grateful if you could let me have your reply to these questions by October 31, 1980.
With the expression of my esteem, I remain yours devotedly in the Lord.