Pope Benedict XVI has approved the launch of a new Latin language college in the Vatican.
The Pontifical Academy for Latin will promote the knowledge and study of the language from classical times to the present day, said the Vatican.
Pope Benedict said the Church was the “guardian and promoter” of Latin and that a good understanding of it was more important than ever.
The Church officially abandoned the use of Latin in Masses in the 1960s.
But Pope Benedict has taken steps to make it easier for priests to say Mass in Latin, rather than their local language, if their more traditionalist congregations demand it.
Issuing his decree, he said that since the early days of Christianity, the Church had made Latin “her own language”, and that it was still held in high regard.
A good understanding of it was more important than ever, Vatican Radio quoted him as saying, but having only a “superficial” knowledge of it could be detrimental to the philosophical and theological training of future priests.
The Pope said the academy – which would also have an online presence – would also address a renewed interest in Latin and classical culture worldwide.
“Such interest is all the more significant because it involves not only the academic world, but also young people and scholars from very diverse nations and traditions,” he said.