When in Rome...

The World in Words
Pope Francis with cardinals as he arrives to lead the synod on the family at the Vatican October 9, 2015.

Pope Francis with cardinals as he arrives to lead the synod on the family at the Vatican October 9, 2015.

Alessandro Bianchi

In the podcast this week, the languages of religion and the wordless language of silence.  

The Catholic Church speaks in many languages. 

It didn't used to be that way. Until the 1960s, mass was celebrated in Latin (unless you lived in parts of Croatia where Church Slavonic was permitted). 

Pope Francis has gone a step further. He has dropped Latin as the language of official doctrine. Doctrinal documents are now written in Italian. Bishops who aren't fluent in that language have them translated into their own mother tongues. But sometimes the translations are inaccurate — deliberately so, some believe. The suspicion is that the mistranslations gloss over conservative vs liberal differences on such issues as homosexuality, pre-marital co-habitation and divorce. 

Also in this week's podcast, we consider the benefits of silence. New research finds that meditation and other forms of keeping your mouth shut may have considerable health benefits. 


00:00 The power of mistranslation

00:25 The Sound of Silence by The Dickies

01:28 Matthew Bell tells us why some conservative Catholic bishops aren't happy about the switch from Latin to Italian. Here is his blog post.  

03:16 Accogliere le persone omosessuali. How does the Vatican translate this phrase?

05:15 “The language issue is just one way for them to express their lack of confidence in this idea that debate is healthy. Many of them don’t think that issues should be debated too much, because that might lead to changes they don’t believe in.” Massimo Faggioli, University of St. Thomas, Minnesota.

06:39 The benefits of a silent retreat.   

08:00 The BBC's David Sillito investigates the value of mindfullness and meditation. 

12:13 Nipishe Nipite by the Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph, Asumbi, Kenya.

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