Utile est diurnariis Latinam discere

The Huffington Post | AFP

ANSA journalist Giovanna Chirri was able to break the news of the pope’s resignation because she understood Latin, writes Giacomo Talignani. “I knew the importance of the news,” Chirri said:

I tried to contact the agency, to get the information verified, even though I didn’t doubt my Latin, then they took care of breaking the news. That’s how I communicated the information.

French reporter Charles De Pechpeyrou told Talignani he and another reporter had trouble understanding a few words:

The difficult part was “understanding the Latin,” he said. “At a certain point, for example, I caught the word ‘incapability’ in the pope’s speech. I turned around and spoke with my Mexican colleague. We noticed that Pope Benedict had a sad look on his face, not his usual look. Something wasn’t right. Then, when cardinal Sodano mentioned the ‘sadness,’ we finally understood. Then Father Lombardi confirmed his resignation over the phone.”

Chirri didn’t get a reply from Lombardi when she called to verify, AFP reports: “In a heated debate with her editor, the journalist insisted her Latin knowledge was sound and they could alert the news.”

New York Times Rome bureau chief Rachel Donadio was among those feting Chirri on Twitter.


Back in the States, Slate republished a Christopher Hitchens essay about Benedict XVI that it translated into Latin. No classics scholar on staff assisted with the feat, Slate Editor David Plotz told Poynter in an email; Slate used Google Translate. “It may not be up to the standards of the Vatican,” Plotz writes.

Previously: Pope Benedict XVI resigns: What you need to know

Thanks to Justine Wolfenden, a Fellow in Classics at Durham University, for a better Latin headline. It means: “It is useful for journalists to learn Latin”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749911534 facebook-749911534

    On the day the pope resigned, lightning literally struck St. Peter’s. There’s a cool photo of it online via google search.
    It might be uncool for people who love religion news to admit that they didn’t see it coming. But really, says one-guy-who-gets-the Vatican, Benedict XVI’s resignation shouldn’t come as such a shock, and may help him accomplish just what he set out to do.
    “From the beginning Benedict said he wanted his ministry to put the focus on Christ, not on himself as the pope,” David Gibson writes. “Ironically, by resigning, he has grabbed the spotlight, for the moment. But in the long run, he may well have redefined the papacy much as he hoped, and more radically than many expected.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749911534 facebook-749911534

    By the way, the pope has a pacemaker. It was a Vatican secret but I guess they feel it’s OK to spill now.

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