The chief argument in favor of the use of Latin was its universal character. This argumentation is substantial, although taken in itself it does not necessitate the exclusive use of Latin. It cannot be denied that the religious history of mankind clearly testifies to the use of sacral languages, which are often not understandable to all participants, which include and contain while to a certain extent also conceal the mystery of the cult, and which therefore rely upon mystagogy to open up its meaning for the initiated, the mystes. In my opinion the strongest argument in favor of Latin derives from the demand for the accurate and integral preservation of the liturgical content. During the countless translations into the vernacular one can hardly avoid distortion, or at least a change of meaning and style.

The Latin is a witness to, and a reservoir of, the full meaning, the total liturgical theology which is neither the opposite of, nor identical with, doctrinal theology. We can return again and again to this treasury of original meaning, terminology and manner of thinking, and we may use it also as a corrective of the distortions made during the course of time.

I wish to add two points to these considerations. First, the point here is not only logical accuracy, but also the use of language in a sacred atmosphere evoking a system, of associations, a cultic style, a “sacred” language. Second, it is not enough if this perfect form can be found in the liturgical books. Each historical period, each place and community, each person has to encounter it, and so the full Latin liturgy must be kept alive in its proper function, as the language of liturgical celebration

Laszlo Dobszay, The Bugnini-Liturgy and the Reform of the Reform (2003)


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