Historical events seldom tie back to any singular cause.

However, the decline of Latin and one reaction to it in particular proved to be a subtle yet troubling contribution to the Dark Ages which were to follow.


Catholicism vs. Protestantism disclaimer



The decline of Latin



Centuries after the early Church of Rome had adopted Latin as its official language (replacing Greek), Latin as the popular language was now being succeeded just as it had replaced its predecessor. However, this time the Church of Rome had only a position of inflexibility. Roman Catholic proponents offer basically two reasons why the Roman church rejected all non-Latin Scripture and instead adhered to a language that fewer and fewer people could understand.

1.) Latin is the foundation language of all other western languages. Some believed that this made Latin the perfect language for speaking about the perfect God.

2.) The Church of Rome believed that the Bible was too important to promulgate into a language understandable to the general public. This, as the reasoning goes, was because if Scripture was capable of being read by anyone, then persons outside the Church of Rome's hierarchy might believe they too could understand it. By Rome's perspective, the idea that anyone else could understand the Bible was simply not possible or, at the very least, not guaranteed; thus it was prohibited.

The Church of Rome's adherence to preventing Scripture from being translated into a language people could understand had a disastrous effect. It progressively disabled largely illiterate generations to read or hear the gospel for themselves. Eventually, with little exception, the only access to Scripture the common man had was through the priests of the Church of Rome.

Whether by chance or design, this suppression of an understandable Bible would later handily serve the Church of Rome's doctrine of infallibility; one of two disputed doctrines that would one day help muster public support for the Crusades and Inquisitions.


The declaration of Latin as the Church of Rome's official language was and still is its position as evidenced in the Vatican Council II Conciliar and Post Conciliar documents:

The use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites. 2

While the Second Vatican Council does go on to make limited exceptions for the use of a nation's popular language, this conciliatory attitude by the Church of Rome was not always that of agents acting, or claiming to act, on its behalf.



(top of page)

NEXT: The Church of Rome's doctrine of infallibility

See also:

Catholicism vs. Protestantism disclaimer

Printing Tips, Contact, Search,
Links & Bibles,
The Gospel