The Leader of the Church Resigns because of Advancing Age and Poor Health


Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger)


Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise announcement that he will retire at the end of this month because his diminishing strength makes it ever more difficult for him to discharge his responsibilities is bound to spark discussion in Mormon circles.  Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have, not infrequently, faced similar challenges.


Many of us remember the painful last years of David O. McKay, Spencer W. Kimball, and Ezra Taft Benson.  The pope certainly remembers the long decline of his friend and immediate predecessor, the great John Paul II, and he can surely be pardoned if he doesn’t care to reprise that  experience in public.  (I myself saw John Paul II at a distance of perhaps ten or fifteen feet not long before his death, and my heart went out to him.  Officiating in his public role with such evident difficulty was nothing short of heroic.)


Church presidents have always served until death, as popes traditionally have.  (The most recent pope to resign, Gregory XII, did so 598 years ago.  And the last voluntary resignation was that of Celestine V in 1294 — well over seven centuries back.)


The situation is a bit different today than it has historically been, because we live much longer.  The relatively minor health issues that typically took us away relatively quickly can now often be surmounted, so that we survive to endure, in many cases but by no means all, not only physical deterioration but mental decline.


Can this practice of service until death be changed within the LDS Church?  Of course it can.  And members of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric are already regularly granted emeritus status.


But the Twelve and the First Presidency are different.  The fifteen apostles who, together, make up the two quorums are organized, to a large degree, on a seniority system.  The president of the Church has always been, since the days of Joseph Smith, the senior apostle.  (Orson Pratt proposed a different system at one point, but, nonetheless, succession has always occurred according to seniority.)  That system would have to be modified or abandoned.


And it partly depends, I suppose on whether one views the president of the Church primarily as  the administrative head of an organization or as a prophet.  In the former case, it would be relatively easy to conceive of a change.  Bishops and stake presidents and mission presidents come and go as their assignments are changed, just as corporate CEOs, baseball managers, and generals do.  Just as popes do.  On the other hand, prophets don’t seem the kind of people who can just “retire.”  When the Lord calls, does a retired prophet just explain that, sorry, he’s gone fishing?


Lorenzo Snow was worried about his own advanced age, and, in his concern when the news arrived that Wilford Woodruff had died, spent considerable time in the Salt Lake Temple praying for guidance.  According to his own account, the Savior appeared to him there, and, rather than permitting him to retire, instructed him to reorganize the First Presidency immediately and told him who his counselors were to be.


Counselors.  That brings up another distinction:  The pope functions alone, in solitary majesty, as a kind of monarch.  Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, however, function within a system of councils.  The Quorum of the First Presidency includes not only the president himself, but at least two counselors.  And they all work in conjunction with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  And each and every one of these men, in both quorums, is sustained by the membership of the Church — and, we believe, by the Lord — as a “prophet, seer, and revelator.”


Which brings up the last matter that I want to mention here:  As the then-third-ranking cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church once told me and two or three others while we were in his office in Vatican City, “no pope has ever received a revelation.”  But we believe that the leaders of our church both have and do.   If there is ever a change — and I don’t know that there ever will be, nor that there ever should be — it will have to come by revelation.





A British barrister's take on the Supreme Court, same-sex marriage, and religious liberty
Home again
"Mormon Helping Hands Day: City of Houston Recognizes Mormon Volunteers"
"There need to be some clear questions raised."
  • Jim H.

    “prophets don’t seem the kind of people who can just ‘retire.’”

    Why not? If they are senile, why should any of us expect them to receive revelation? And as you rightly point out, a President is chosen by a default seniority system, much as would be the case in an administrative role. The calling made by revelation was the one to the Apostleship, not to the President. The President position really became what it was after Joseph the Prophet was killed. Brigham Young and his successors didn’t call themselves “the prophet ” until David O. McKay entered the role and re-fashioned it back into a charismatic one — a trend that has continued to this day. So we talk about the President as “the Prophet”, but the only difference between he and the other 14 is an administrative policy of seniority that took decades to crystallize until it became tradition (seniority was previously defined as being of chronological age) . The other 14 apostles are no less qualified to serve. I think revelation has been shown time and time again to be highly variable to the pre-conceived notions of the individual receiving that revelation. Perhaps someday such an individual will rise to the occasion — although how they’d be able to do that in a state of senility or incoherency is beyond me. Do you really think Thomas S. Monson is praying about whether he should step down? Do you think the 12 are discussing and praying about whether Monson should be released? He’s done his time, it’s his day in the sun. He clearly enjoys it. Why buck the tradition? My point here is this — saying a revelation is required to eliminate what is clearly an administrative / tradition-oriented policy is, in this case, really unrealistic. But such is the case in a business-driven bureaucracy that calls itself a Church.

    • danpeterson

      “That calls itself a church.”

      Such rhetorical overkill pretty much shows what Jim H. was up to.

      He just can’t help himself, though.

    • Rich

      Dan, I understand and sympathize with your observation of the increasing business-like operation of the church and church leadership which unfortunately sometimes resembles the business world.

      I would like you to take into account that this is a church. These men did not establish it. There are many warnings from the scriptures about the failings of the church itself in the Nephites’ time and among the children of Israel and the New Testament church after Jesus’ death and resurrection. I have my own misgivings and disappointments with the church’s overwhelming trend toward being cozy with the business world and profits and holdings. Some of this is necessary, and some of it is–I believe–in the wrong direction. These are men. Yes, they are under the Lord’s guidance, but they make their own decisions also and it is a world where tough choices have to be made. I do find myself disappointed that missionaries are not covered more completely by the church insurances–as in the case of my daughter’s health coverage during her mission–I picked it up and she was 21 and 22. They excluded her because of a pre-existing condition. That is ridiculous when a young woman is in the service of the Lord on a Mission in the Third World and gets sick. There are policies which are sometimes failures. Most in the church are too afraid to ever say so, but there are some. I clearly think the orientation toward big business, business suits in every occasion, the backing of shopping malls for the benefit of 1 city over increasing our help to the poor and disabled shows our Failures as a church to better regulate our own leaders just a little. Sometimes it is ok to express some disappointment in our failures as a people and in the use of our church money. The disabled within the church are not treated equally, the poor are somewhat administered to within the church, but outside the church it is still only a token administration–far less than our charge from the Lord. These facts disappoint me and I teach these principles to my children–often encouraging to go to work for other organizations which administer to the disabled and poor much better than our own church does because of what I feel is too narrow of a business and profit mindset to make money, get gain, and keep the wealth inside the church and see it grow. Building the Kingdom is important, but administering to others is also one of the most important ways to build it as well. We are perceived by many as a wealthy, stingy “organization”. I do not think for one minute that Jesus has this in mind for the church.

      • danpeterson

        “Dan, I understand and sympathize with your observation of the increasing business-like operation of the church and church leadership which unfortunately sometimes resembles the business world.”

        You misread me. I expressed no concern about this, and feel no very great concern.

        “We are perceived by many as a wealthy, stingy ‘organization’.”

        The perception is false.

        “I do not think for one minute that Jesus has this in mind for the church.”

        Oh, I think he knew very well, and expressly predicted, that his church would be maligned and spoken evil of.

        I do, though, sympathize with your dislike of ubiquitous business suits.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    My recollection is that the original apostles, who were all called at the same time, were ordered by age, but that Brigham Young established seniority based on ordination date, including date of reordination for some apostles like Parley P. Pratt who were disaffected for a while. Not exactly a “modern” innovation.

    When I look at the full time General Authorities, I see men who mostly could be making more income if they had stayed in their former careers, with a lot less hassle, who are giving themselves to service in the Church without the kinds of financial rewards that many popular Christian pastors enjoy. I don’t see any particular religious or moral virtue in running an organization so it is insolvent and lacks the means to accomplish its mission. The LDS Church could grow its net worth much more efficiently if it limited its growth to the more prosperous developed nations of the world. Instead, the Church draws upon its assets to fund the recruiting of new members in the Third World, and constructing meetinghouses and temples to serve them. The support the Church gives to the BYU campuses is another example of its work as a not-for-profit organization that operates to serve its members. The state university in Washington where I teach part time charges twice the tuition that BYU Provo does, yet it is still a non-profit organization.
    as far as I can see, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints performs all the essential functions of churches, and does so using a system that pays comparatively few people and none of them exorbitantly. Few not-for-profit organizations are as efficient in producing results consonant with their missions, a fact that has been affirmed repeatedly in the last couple of years by objective studies of the Latter-day Saints and other denominations.

    • palerobber

      Young’s ruling on seniority (in 1875) affected *Orson* Pratt not Parley Pratt, who was never reordained and who was deceased at the time.

    • Rich

      I do not say this in criticism, but I think it is very safe to say that the world leaders of our church are very well taken care of and very well compensated from what I have seen. In addition, many of them serve much of their lives in General Authority positions and some gain additional income from book sales which are primarily target distributed through Deseret Book or church affiliated bookstores at profitable prices. I do not think that we can possibly refer to our church leaders as living anything less than “well off”. This kind of thing can be negative and be perpetuating. There is a lot to look at here. It is far better if a church leader has made and saved his own means of living and saved his fortune if you will–before he enters a position where he, or she as in the young women’s and relief society world leadership–is placed in a position where the church is his source of sustenance. I hope you understand what I am saying. The scriptures are replete with references to where the Prophets worked with their own hands for their support. Should the standard be any less now, except for the exercise of official church duties? Should book sales be priced so high? I think not if the purpose is to get a message to the people that is insipirational. I don’t think there should be excessive royalties and profits from such. It reminds one of the moneychangers just a bit.

      • danpeterson

        “I do not say this in criticism.”

        It’s difficult, frankly, to see how else it could be taken.

        “the world leaders of our church are very well taken care of and very well compensated from what I have seen.”

        They’re not starving. But they’re not living lavishly, either.

        As it happens, I’ve spent several hours each in the homes of the two senior members of the Quorum of the Twelve. My house is bigger, and there’s nothing in their homes that is even remotely “luxurious.”

        “The scriptures are replete with references to where the Prophets worked with their own hands for their support. Should the standard be any less now, except for the exercise of official church duties?”

        There isn’t time in the day for all of their responsibilities now. And nobody could hold an ordinary job while maintaining the travel schedule that they must maintain.

        In the nineteenth century, and even perhaps into the early twentieth century, members of the Twelve still held down jobs. I think that would be inconceivable today, with the Church the size it is.

        “Should book sales be priced so high?”

        They can’t be much lower, if Deseret Book isn’t to require tithing subsidies. Author royalties are, with reference to retail price, typically in the 10% to 15% range. Thus, if there were no royalties at all, a $20 book would drop to the $17-18 dollar range. That’s not, I think, as deep as you perhaps expected.

        And, in a number of cases at least, I happen to know that the authors donate their royalties to the Missionary Fund, the Perpetual Education Fund, etc.

        “I don’t think there should be excessive royalties and profits from such.”

        I don’t think there are.

        “It reminds one of the moneychangers just a bit.”

        Not a criticism, of course.

        It doesn’t remind me of the moneychangers even a TEENY bit.

  • Geoff – A

    As the original post points put there is a problem with the succession system in our church. First is that having nearly all the leaders past retirement age. Could there be a reason surgeons for example don’t operate into their 90s? Could they really get more money in the corporate world, I can’t get a job at 65? Their culture is of a few generations back. We are loosing a lot of young people from the church because they are not able to connect with the leaders. We are also discouraged from connecting. Perhaps with a younger Prophet this could change. Uchtdorf for example. Should the next prophet be chosen on merit (who would best lead the church toward the Gospel of Christ?

    When talking to the three nephites the Lord set their retirement age at 72.

    The other problem our leaders have is that, although they have the support of the 14, this has become a problem because it has become accepted that there must be complete agreement before there can be action.

    So one conservative can stop progress. As was done with the P’hood for all males.

    Neither the succession system or the complete agreement idea are more than tradition/culture and would therefore not require revelation to change, just a forward thinking attitude and total agreement, which are not likely. Perhaps we do need a revelation to break the culture.

    I saw the Popes decision as showing great humility…. It will take some of that to fix ours.

    • danpeterson

      I actually didn’t point out that there’s a problem with succession in the Church, because I don’t necessarily agree that it’s a problem. Humans are a problem, but at all ages.

    • JohnH

      “If ye are not one ye are not mine” Total agreement among the leading Quorums of the Church is necessary. Also, the President of the Church can not step down as even if he did he would still be the holder of the keys and the only one authorized to use them, and there can only be one person on earth that is fully mortal with that authorization at one time. Succession is a pattern, which short of direct revelation is not likely to change, however direct revelation is possible and anyone could be called by God as Prophet, but having someone be trained and tried and tested before being Prophet is valuable making it not likely that God would want to change the pattern that He has established.

      I think the youth leaving the church is overstated by many and also that many of those that actually do go inactive for a while will return as that is common both in the church and in other churches (and in scripture..).

      Having someone that is generations removed from current culture is I think very useful; History tends to repeat and being old enough to see the patterns of history is valuable when regarding a world spanning organization, its policy, and its direction. It means that current trends are not given into, especially when they are dangerous, untried, and untested social experiments with ever more obvious damages and dangers both personally and socially to anyone that is willing to even briefly consider statistics.

    • Mike

      “Ours” isn’t broken.

  • Scott Larson

    Well written. I have pondered similar situations and given that King Benjamin essentially passed on his roll to Mosiah 3 years before his death, I wonder if there will ever be a time when the leaders of the church will exercise the same option.

  • Rachel


    Is this kind of “snarkiness” really called for by someone who presents himself as a scholar and a defender of the faith??

    ““That calls itself a church.”

    Such rhetorical overkill pretty much shows what Jim H. was up to.

    He just can’t help himself, though.

    My spouse and I read your columns and blog for insight, but man, you have gotten to be so sarcastic and downright caustic we’ve about stopped.

    • danpeterson

      Jim H. has a long, long, long history of this kind of thing.

      You do realize, don’t you, that the snarkiest thing in what you quoted (“that calls itself a church”) was actually from him? Do you think it’s at all civil to say that the Church is a business that merely pretends to be a religious organization? I don’t.

      • Jim H.

        I don’t know about my long history, but I concede that my concluding sentence was a pot-shot. It reflects unresolved frustration.

    • danpeterson

      LOL. I should have noticed that “Rachel” is actually “Tornogal.”

      I’ve never understood the point of these games.

  • Rozann

    “We are loosing a lot of young people from the church because they are not able to connect with the leaders.” Well who’s problem is that? Are the leaders out of step or the young people? Our young adult children love the prophet and apostles, so do our teens. They (our children) have watched conference since they were born, which goes a long way to an ability to connect. Have you ever had a teen say to you “You don’t understand what it’s like to be my age.”? What do you say to them? “You’re right, I don’t understand because I’ve never been a teen, I’ve always been an adult.” Sure, that’s what you’d say. What is so different about a general authority? They weren’t born GA’s, they were children, teens, young adults, young marrieds, parents of young children, stretched to the limit by family, career, and church callings men. Too many teens, and adults, want to be entertained rather than called to repentance and instructed. I trust the prophet, apostles and other general authorities, including auxiliary general presidencies to teach me the truth, no matter how much it differs from what the world teaches. This whole, ‘they are a bunch of old men who aren’t up to date’ really raises my hackles! Who’s on the Lord’s side who? Now is the time to show!

  • Rozann

    Oops, I meant “whose” not who’s in the second line.

  • MajMarine

    “…. It will take some of that to fix ours.”

    Ours? Really? I wonder if the Lord is aware of this problem in ‘our’ church. If this is, indeed, the Lord’s church (and I believe it is), and He stands at the head of it, my sense of the matter is that He’s got a handle on it.

  • Gerald Smith

    Because there is a major difference between the Catholic and LDS leadership structure, we can manage okay with a debilitated Prophet. As in the cases of Pres Kimball, Benson, and McKay, the counselors and Twelve stepped in and ran things as needed. There is no senior council in the Catholic Church for their membership to look up to to run things in times of sickness. We can send an apostle to dedicate a temple or organize a stake, but the Pope has always been the only one to do Easter Mass.
    Such a difference in structure makes the need for a Prophet to retire/step down of less need.

  • Randy Winn

    Very good analysis.

  • Riley

    I’m jealous of all the stalkers you have… So fun to see them play charity hall monitor and hold you hostage with their readership or membership. If only my words and behavior had the power to cause truth to cease being truth for people I’d be fulfilled in my pride. According to your stalkers sarcasm, snarkiness or annoyance is reserved only for those who disagree with you. You are the only one with whom such things are unbecoming of Mormon.

    I worry Pres. Monson is to the Pres. Benson point. He was attending a baby blessing at the sacrament meeting in the ward prior to ours so we took our Sunday School class (12-15 year olds) to sit in the back and hear him speak/bear his testimony. He literally told the same story 3 consecutive times in a row. He would end it and say, “which remindes me of the time…” and then would repeat. I felt really bad for him.

    • Collin

      We should pray for him. God can do miracles.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Unlike leaders in the Catholic Church, ours are fathers and grandfathers. They don’t need to go out of their way to find out what younger people think, they have them in their families. I am 63 now, and I don’t fear that I am “out of touch”.

  • Collin


    Some people are unwittingly fulfilling prophesy. They are mockers in the great and spacious building or they are wolves in sheep’s clothing sowing discord and confusion among the members.

  • Shawn

    I find this blog post from Brother Peterson to be ill-informed and very misleading. I am a little surprised given his knowledge of other faiths and spiritual traditions. Without offense, the omissions and inconsistencies have me re-evaluating Brother Peterson’s credentials.

    Item #1 – The Pope does not govern the Catholic Church in a vacuum. He has a College of Cardinals and a Magisterium which serve as consultative bodies in both the theological and administrative functions of the Church. These bodies provide depth, stability and structure to the life of the Church. The LDS President actually has less support than the Pope as the LDS Church focuses all its theological, administrative and (surprisingly) cultural authority within the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. These 14 to 16 men are also very similar in their geographic, educational, and cultural world views which limits their ability to address governing challenges from multiple perspectives. The College of Cardinals and the Magisterium total between 2500 and 3000 individuals from around the world and are fully dedicated to church service. The LDS equivalent would be if the Stake Presidents or Quorum of the Seventies were fully incorporated into the governance of the Church rather than servicing as administrative management.

    Item #2 – Both the Catholic and LDS claims to authority are directly tied to the Priesthood keys received from St. Peter. The full exercise of these keys is limited to only one individual upon the earth at one time. The passing of these keys to another individual is given by the Pope to other Cardinals and by the LDS President to other Apostles. The determination of selecting individuals for this honor is the same in both churches. It reflects Divine Will through revelation. The impression the LDS maintain on Catholic doctrine of revelation is very misinformed. Catholics define revelation as “the communication of some truth by God to a rational creature through means which are beyond the ordinary course of nature”. This definition is the same employed by the LDS Church.

    Item #3 – The passing of leadership in the Catholic Church is based upon the College of Cardinals meeting together in private to ascertain the Will of God on who should be the next Pope who exercises the Priesthood Keys of St. Peter. It requires the Cardinals to actively solicit the Lord’s Will before filling the Divine Office. The passing of leadership in the LDS Church is based upon the most senior Apostle automatically advancing to the office of LDS President and thereby, having the right to exercise the Priesthood Keys of St. Peter. The LDS method assumes that Divine Will is fulfilled automatically by seniority and that the Lord will arrange the order of the Church Presidents by accelerating the death of the less senior Apostles before it becomes expedient to choose a new one. While the LDS tradition is that the Lord can intercede through revelation if, by some chance, an Apostle becomes the most senior but is NOT the Lord’s choice for President, this has never happened. It is unknown how that will work in actuality. It can be supposed that the quick and untimely death of LDS President Harold B. Lee may have represented the Lord’s Will in order to bring forth a less dogmatic individual who would be prepared to listen to the Lord for the reversing of the Priesthood ban for blacks.

    Item #4 – The recent and persistent insistence by the LDS Church that the Church President is also a Prophet, Seer and Revelator is a fairly recent emphasis which began in earnest under President David O. McKay as the Church entered it globalization phase. While each of the 14 to 16 men are ordained, sustained and promoted as prophets, seers and revelators, most of the pronouncements and admonitions from these men largely reflect administrative or inspirational guidance for daily living and raising families. There is no LDS equivalent of the Magisterium or no active and consistent involvement (that we know of) in actually prophesying, seeing or revelating. The oft cited Proclamation on the Family is a document comprised by a committee of Seventies under the direction of an Apostle (probably Elder Packer) which was originally meant to address Hawaii’s brief political conundrum when its State Supreme Court ruled there was no basis in state law to deny gay marriage. It has since been adopted as a doctrinal statement but has never been affirmed as a “revelatory” pronouncement as evidenced by the changing of Elder Packer’s claim in conference that it reflected revelation. Elder Christofferson’s general conference talk on The Doctrine of Christ attempted to provide clarification on how doctrine is determined and understood in the LDS Church but his final conclusions seem to differ little from the “faith and reason” methods cited by the Catholic Church. While Elder Christofferson acknowledges the discussion and formulation of Church doctrine through the use of Church councils (primarily by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve) he does not elaborate on how much of a particular pronouncement reflects pure revelation versus reasoned council by the participants. Without such elaboration, it is difficult for an individual Latter-day Saint to determine whether the counsel given by LDS prophets, seers and revelators reflects true Divine Will or is the reasoned conclusion of the council participants. Specific examples of this conundrum is reflected in the unresolved doctrine of Eternal plural marriage (D&C 132), the origins of the Priesthood ban, and the recent unsupported statement in the PoF that “gender is eternal”. This confusion is further clouded by the use of the LDS Newsroom or Press Office to issue doctrinal clarifications or pronouncements without the signatures of authorized leadership. The use by the Catholic Church of Pontifical Encyclicals seeks to provide the same clarification on doctrine and Divine Will but has the benefit of also leading the average Catholic through the reasoning and scriptural basis for the doctrine which allows for a more independent formation of discipleship. The encyclicals also reflect “ownership” of the pronouncement by the head of the Catholic Church. Rarely, if ever, does the LDS President take such direct ownership of doctrinal pronouncements.

    So where am I going with all of this? Brother Peterson’s claim that the office of LDS President is meant to be occupied until the death of the holder no matter how incapacitated is not supported by scripture, revelation or by the uniqueness of the office. We have 14 to 16 prophets in our Church at any one time. There is no reason why the Lord could not recognize the inability of a Church President to no longer function either administratively OR prophetically in his calling. The Lord could easily pass the prophetic office onto another Apostle (who is already ordained and sustained as a prophet but has not fully exercised the keys of St. Peter) and allow the current prophet to resign. It is in the exercising of the Priesthood Keys of St. Peter in which prophetic responsibility is exhibited and not in the title of LDS President. The scriptures are FULL of examples of more than one prophet prophesying on the earth at the same time. In those situations there was no mention of it being impossible to have multiple prophets articulating doctrine or clarifying the Divine Will. The specific example of the Prophet Joseph and D&C 28 is easily taken out of its original context (as Brother Peterson well knows) to justify the need for a single authoritative voice receiving revelation for the Church. However, twisting the original meaning to state that an incapacitated Church President can never resign or be given emeritus status is definitely going too far in interpretation.

    • danpeterson

      Thank you for your treatise – which weighs in at roughly twice the length of the blog entry to which it responds.

      With regard to your “Item #1,” I’m fully aware of the College of Cardinals and the Curia, and I recognize that “The Pope does not govern the Catholic Church in a vacuum.
      Beyond that, on this item (as on the others) we simply disagree about the significance of the facts you offer (and with which I’m familiar) and about your interpretation of them. They would be worthy of very lengthy discussion.
      “The impression the LDS maintain on Catholic doctrine of revelation is very misinformed. Catholics define revelation as “the communication of some truth by God to a rational creature through means which are beyond the ordinary course of nature”. This definition is the same employed by the LDS Church.”
      I understand the Catholic concept of revelation. And I distinctly remember Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy standing in his office in Vatican City and saying, very forcefully, that no pope had ever received a revelation.
      “Brother Peterson’s claim that the office of LDS President is meant to be occupied until the death of the holder no matter how incapacitated . . . twisting the original meaning to state that an incapacitated Church President can never resign or be given emeritus status is definitely going too far in interpretation.”

      I don’t believe that I made any such claim, or did any such twisting. I specifically said that a change could be made by revelation.

  • Shawn

    P.S. I find it funny that you have chosen to use a Latin title to your blog when we Latter-day Saints have no theological or doctrinal attachment to Latin as a language.

    • danpeterson

      What’s funny about that? Latin isn’t only an ecclesiastical language. It was the language of pagan Rome long before it was the liturgical language of Western Christendom, and it was also the language of more or less secular science and philosophy among non-Catholics as well as Catholics long after it ceased to be the language of much Western worship. The devoutly Protestant Sir Isaac Newton, for example, wrote his 1687 “Principia Mathematica” in Latin, as did the heretical Jew Benedict Spinoza his 1670 “Tractatus Theologico-Politicus.”