Latin-loving pope uses ancient language to quit

ROME Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:00am IST

Pope Benedict XVI leaves at the end of a mass at the St. Peter Basilica in Vatican February 9, 2013. Pope Benedict will step down as head of the Catholic Church on Feb. 28, the Vatican confirmed on February 11, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Pope Benedict XVI leaves at the end of a mass at the St. Peter Basilica in Vatican February 9, 2013. Pope Benedict will step down as head of the Catholic Church on Feb. 28, the Vatican confirmed on February 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

ROME (Reuters) - Pope Benedict announced his historic decision to resign on Monday in an address to cardinals which he delivered in Latin, the ancient tongue whose use he had done much to encourage.

"Quapropter bene conscius ponderis huius actus plena libertate declaro me ministerio Episcopi Romae, Successoris Sancti Petri, mihi per manus Cardinalium die 19 aprilis MMV commissum renuntiare," he said during a meeting on naming new saints.

The Vatican provided a translation: "Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005."

Pope Benedict, known for his traditionalist leanings, is the latest in a string of modern-day popes to encourage a revival of Latin, the language which gave rise to Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

Last year he launched a new Vatican department to promote the study and use of Latin in the Roman Catholic Church and beyond. He has also allowed a partial return of the old-style Latin mass that was phased out more than four decades ago.

He launched a Latin Twitter account this year, tweeting in the official language of the Catholic Church for the first time in January.

His efforts followed similar attempts by predecessors. In 1962, Pope John XXIII published "Veterum Sapientia", a document aimed at promoting the study of Latin, and in 1976 Pope Paul VI started the Latin Foundation and its quarterly "Latinitas".

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Editing by Peter Graff)

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