My son has shown an interest in the priesthood. He seems to have the right psychosexual and behavioral characteristics. Among other reasons, notably, he has no interest in physically intimate relationships (with either men or women, a psychological phenomenon associated with schizoid personality - not a derogatory term); and he has the strongest sense of right or wrong of most anybody I've ever known, including either of his parents. A gift of the Spirit, if you will.

However, since grammar school he has had an IEP (Individual Education Plan, a learning disability) in language acquisition. Schools at all levels have waived his foreign language requirements. He works so hard, but English is tough enough. He excels at other subjects.

All seminary schools I've looked at in the US promote, and it appears to me require, language instruction in Latin and Greek. This seems a practical impossibility for him.

I know there are priests and educators on this site. Does anyone know if such languages are required (in the US)? Would having an IEP make a difference? Are other countries different? (It seems to me granting Presbyter status through a Holy Order in a developing region would not involve such a requirement.)

Edit 2021: Oh, I'm glad this reappeared. My son is now 13. Really, not much has changed, but I'm more confident that he will not have "psychological issues" per se. He still has an IEP for language, but I think we'll try French in high school and see how it goes. (We live in an area with lots of Hispanics; there will be too many "gunners" for him to be successful in Spanish.)

  • 3
    This question would be better asked of the vocations officer of the chancery office of your diocese.
    – brasshat
    Oct 1, 2017 at 13:14
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    Wouldn't this present a difficulty in properly understanding and expounding upon the written Word of God? Linguistics often constitutes a rather great portion thereof. In any case, may God guide Him to whatever He shall call him to! Oct 1, 2017 at 14:35
  • Regardless of what requirements are followed at any particular seminary, exceptions can be made for specific individuals. Such cases are approved on a case by case basis. In the seminary, I attended, Latin could be waived for a number of reasons.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 1, 2017 at 20:19
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    If he has psychological issues, he is not suited for the priesthood (cf. Can. 1041). He could check out religious life.
    – Geremia
    Oct 2, 2017 at 3:30
  • Regardless of what the seminary requires, Latin is an essential piece of our Faith Tradition and before Vatican II (so for the first 1950 years of our Church) all masses were celebrated in Latin. So it may not hinder him from following a vocation, but is important none-the-less. What do you mean by 'no interest in physically intimate relationships'? This is not necessarily a good thing and would definitely be explored during the psych eval that is part of the application. (Source: I have 3 close friends in seminary and attended a college attached to a seminary). Read about St. John Vianney!
    – J. Tate
    Oct 2, 2017 at 11:27

1 Answer 1


Do all Catholic seminary schools require instruction in Latin and/or Greek?

Not all Catholic seminaries require their seminarians to learn Latin unfortunately. Greek is often an elective in many seminaries. If a seminarian is studying from the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, then yes. The traditional Mass is said in Latin and a working knowledge of the Latin language is necessary.

More and more, younger priests are requesting more Latin in the seminaries. Chant is popular, and there's reams of it in the Graduale Romanum - in Latin. Architecture of chapels employs Latin in most classical schema. Biblical studies require Latin. Studying many Latin Church Fathers requires Latin. One cannot, for example, fully read Aquinas without sometimes turning to the Latin. Latin is not going away any time soon. - Do Catholic seminarians still learn Latin?

In any case Latin is required to be taught in Catholic seminaries according to Church Law.

Fr. Daniel Gallagher, a colleague here at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, has just published a fine essay on the importance of Latin training for men preparing for priesthood. Of course, I think that anything promoting Latin, and anything by Fr. Gallagher, warrants reading, but among the many excellent points made about the importance of Latin competence was Fr. Dan's highlighting of 1983 CIC 249, which calls for proficiency in Latin among those seeking ordination, as well as competence in other pastorally useful languages. Nice use of canon law by a non-canonist.

I personally know of Catholic seminaries that do not teach Latin at all, yet will offer Greek to their students as an elective!

For those having a hard time with languages perhaps it would be fitting to invoke the aid of St. John Vianney who had a very hard time learning his Lain.

  • It seems then there are programs within the US that DO NOT REQUIRE a knowledge of Latin beyond a few. basics (which can probably be memorized) for graduation/ordination?
    – Stu W
    Oct 1, 2017 at 20:46
  • @StuW In most cases a working knowledge of Latin would suffice.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 3, 2017 at 11:59

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