Two prizes for promoting the teaching of Greek and Latin
The Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences has created a prize for the press and another for television in order to promote the teaching of Greek and Latin. In a communiqué on January 25, the leaders of the committee indicated that this prize was created to single out articles, both short ones and feature stories, which emphasize the “timeliness” and “significance” of Latin and Greek for the “cultural and scientific” development of Europe.
This initiative seeks to fight against the “progressive degradation of the knowledge of Greek and Latin”. This decline “leads to an ever lower number of students capable of devoting themselves to an acceptable level not only to historic studies, but also to philological, philosophical and theological studies. This in turn will create a dearth of serious research in these areas”.
The object of these prizes is thus to “defend” these ancient languages through “the mainstream media” not only in scholastic circles, but also in “the much larger domain of public opinion”. The Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences hopes these rewards will stimulate “reflections and debates which will raise awareness among education professionals on a national and international level”.
The Committee deplores the “deceptive” school policies adopted in this domain over the last decade. Dead languages are not only important for Europe and “the future of the countries stemming from its cultural roots”. They are also important for “the cultural patrimony of the entire human race”.
Interested candidates can obtain information by email. Starting in February 2005, ways to participate will be available on the website www.vatican.va, on the web pages of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Committee, in April 2004, John-Paul II exhorted candidates for the priesthood to deepen their knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages, so that “access to the sources of the Church’s tradition would not be impossible for them.” For his part, Msgr. Walter Brandmüller, President of the committee, spoke of a “decline of knowledge of ancient languages over the last fifty years”: “A science which exclusively uses modern-language translations of Greek and Latin texts does not merit the name of science”.
Cardinal Kasper at the end of the Week of Christian Unity
During Vespers for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on January 25 in the Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls in Rome, Cardinal Walter Kasper called on Christians to be “good architects” in constructing a united Church. “At the beginning of this new year, we don’t want to look at the past, but hope to turn toward the future, the future of ecumenism”, he declared. “From its beginnings, at the start of the twentieth century, the ecumenical movement has seen great changes in the world and in our churches. The ecumenical situation is even quite diverse. At times, the initial enthusiasm seems to risk sliding into a state of lethargy and losing its credibility. We see on the one hand signs of reticence and resistance and on the other signs of resignation and frustration”.
But for the German cardinal, “we cannot continue to repeat ‘business as usual’. We must “rather question ourselves about what we should and can do” for, “the reconstruction of unity is one of the foremost tasks of the Church”. While proposals are not lacking “to review methods, change structures, integrate new members, examine urgent questions, make a new effort to reflect on our intentions, on our objectives and our priorities”, the answer we must bring to the new challenges is “a faith-filled answer and a spiritual answer, that is, an answer rooted in the life and spirit of Christ”
Concretely, he invited Christians “to unite again around the Bible”, the best ecumenism consists “in reading and living the Gospel”. He also called on them to reflect “together on what it means to be baptized from the point of view of the faith as also from the point of view of life”, because Christians, by means of baptism the starting point of the ecumenical engagement “are already in communion with each other” (sic).
Cardinal Walter Kasper presided over the celebration, assisted by Cardinal Ignatius Moussa Daoud, Prefect of the Congregation of Eastern Churches, and by six other representatives of churches and Christian ecclesial communities, among whom were a Methodist pastor, the Anglican bishop John Flack, and a representative of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Dressed in their solemn vestments, they one-by-one read prayers of intercession for the unity of Christians.