COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Holy See/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.5 Language issues and policies

The official language of the Holy See and Vatican City State is Latin. The Latinitas Foundation was set up in Vatican City in 1976 with the aim of promoting the study and use of Latin. While other languages are now more commonplace, the use of Latin continues in the liturgy and in official documents and the typical idioms of the Latin language continue to pervade much of the Holy See's life.

The universal character of the Pope's ministry has historically fostered the use of various languages. Due to its geographical location, Italian has become the everyday working language in the offices of the Holy See and Vatican City. French is the diplomatic language of the Holy See. English is also widely used. Spanish is the most common mother tongue language of the members of the universal Church. The current Pontiff is a native German speaker.

The Vatican Press, established in the 16th century, became the Vatican Polyglot Press in the 17th century, well known for its publications in European and Oriental languages.

For its part, Vatican Radio has editorial staff and programmes for the following languages: Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Bulgarian, Byelorussian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, English, Ethiopian-Eritrean, French (France, Africa, Canada), German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Kiswahili, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal, Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Scandinavian (Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish), Slovakian, Slovenian, Spanish (Spain, the Americas), Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

The newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has a daily edition in Italian, weekly editions in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, and a monthly edition in Polish.

The main documents of the Sovereign Pontiff and the Congregations are published both on paper and on the Vatican website in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish (see  chapter 9.2).

350 languages have been approved for liturgical use throughout the world by the Congregation for Divine Worship.


Chapter published: 02-12-2009

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