Modern Church Terminology

November 8, 2014 12:00 pm

For the Catholic Church the election of a new Pope meant a big shift in vision and terminology. As we learned from late tensions inside the Church, as other Institutions, a set of norms have been established for centuries. Change comes slowly and usually after some collective and difficult events. The selection of correct and precise terms is something that takes time and effort to achieve. Perhaps only a few could remember the switch from the latin mass to a modern language. Looking back in history, there were other seminal moments in the Churchs  hierarchy in which big decisions were made to contrast heresy and scisms, handling with care the language used. And that led to the modern Catholic Church we all know today.



The new Pope, with his words and vision, gave millions of faithfuls a new hope and, we dare to say, a breath of fresh air. The Pope uses a modern and vigorous new language, directely inspired from some allegories present in the Bible, simple and effective, while the former one was more used to the complex style of an acute theologist. The present Pope chose the name of Francesco, reminder of San Francesco d’Assisi, also as a sign of simplicity, and his language and advices completely reflect this choice. But some problems remain, at least in the inner burocracy of the Institution. The loss of strength in words may occur in translated texts and one of problems faced by the Church in this particular time are the mistakes in an official transcript of an English text.

During the Synod, Francesco asserted that also the Gay community could be part of the Christian family. After this last council of the bishops Vatican published the English translation of the final Italian document of the meeting, which diverged from the original in some aspects. The translation wasn’t efficient and clear at the same level, resulting in growing protests. The paper substituted key terms with much more “lighter” ones, specially in the matter of Gay rights. Even though the effective document was the Italian one, something got “lost in translation”. The Church apologized and another translation was published. The attempt to cover the change that began with Pope Francesco didn’t succeed, for he continues daily his moral crusade for renewal within the Church and the Vatican to modernize ideologies and terminology.


by Andreia Nuno

Graduate from the New University (Portugal), Degree in Modern Languages, Literature and Cultures, English and Portuguese Studies (PT, EN), Master in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts (EN, FR)

Terminology trainee at the Terminology Coordination of the European Parliament


Matteo Poles

Social Media Specialist

Communication Trainee at TermCoord

3,058 total views, 2 views today

Categorised in: