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- The New Latin for the Church and for Ecumenism
from Esperanto by Mike Leon and Maire Mullarney
Preface by Dr. György Jakubinyi, Archbishop of Alba Iulia, Romania
Antwerp (Belgium) 2002,
ISBN 90 77066 04 7, 144 p., EUR 7.95
This book was published in May 2002 by Flandra Esperanto-Ligo, Antwerp (Belgium). It is also available in German ("Esperanto - das neue Latein der Kirche", Meßkirch 1999), Esperanto ("Esperanto - la nova latino de la Eklezio", Antwerp 2001), French ("L'Espéranto. Un nouveau latin pour l'Église et pour l'humanité") and some other languages .
The book is also available as a WORD file which, contrary to this web site, contains also the numbers of the 212 footnotes. The printed book contains 12 illustrations. Here you can see the cover. The following text is based on the manuscript of 10 March 2002.
You can order this book from Esperanto book services or (for EUR 7.95; free postage and packing to anywhere in the world) from the author.
2. The idea of a universal language
2.1 The beginning
2.3 Other new projects
2.4 Some comparisons
3. Ludwig Zamenhof
3.1 The origin of Esperanto
3.2 The early years of the new language
3.3 Zamenhof's view of the world
4. The Church and Esperanto
4.1 The Early Years
4.2 The Protestant Esperanto movement
4.3 Between World War I and World War II
4.4 The Post-war Period
4.5 The Attitudes of Popes and Bishops toward Esperanto
5. How Christians put Esperanto to practical use
5.2 Church Services
5.3 Periodicals and books
5.4 Vatican Radio
5.5 Charitable activities
5.7 Ecumenical Esperanto camps for young people
5.8 Catholic Esperanto Camps
6. Arguments for and against Esperanto
6.1 Language in the Church
6.2 The language problem in the European Union
6.3 Esperanto and cultural diversity
6.4 The advantages of Esperanto
6.5 Deeper considerations
6.6 Criticism and response
E The structure of Esperanto
By Dr György Jakubinyi
Archbishop of Alba Iulia, Romania.
When there is any discussion about Latin, I am caught up by nostalgia. When I was a child, in a communist state, in spite of the difficulties I managed for ten years to be a Mass-server. We learnt the beautiful Latin prayers - the responses of the Mass-servers - by heart and recited them without knowing the language, but our tutors took care that we should at least have an idea beforehand of the content of these Latin prayers. That problem was solved by the introduction of the people's language in the Latin rite.
But now there is a problem of international understanding. It used to be said, before the Vatican Council, that Catholics felt themselves at home anywhere in the world because the liturgy was celebrated everywhere in the same language, and was therefore generally understood. Go to China, they would say, and you will understand the liturgy, because it is in Latin. There's a story from that time about Hungarians from Transylvania; they found themselves abroad and went on Sunday to the Catholic church. When they heard the Mass in Latin one whispered to another. 'Listen, even here they are speaking Hungarian '. But anecdotes like this cannot hide the difficulty of the problem. How many Catholics are able to enjoy the liturgy itself when it is celebrated in the language that enabled liturgical unity? How many Catholics leave their own countries whether as tourists or guest-workers? The Second Vatican Council decided to put first the needs of the majority who remain at home, and introduce local, native languages.
In principle, the Council only permitted the vernacular in the liturgy for the sake of communication:
The use of the Latin language should be retained in the Latin rite unless some special ruling conflicts with this. Since in the Mass, in the adminstration of the sacraments and in other parts of the Liturgy the vernacular may be very helpful to the people, its use is to be permitted, as is its use on a wider scale, particularly in reading and instructions, in some passages of speech and hymns, according to the regulations which are laid out in the following chapters.
In practice everything turned out quite differently. The native languages completely took over from Latin. I myself am an enthusiastic Latinist, not only because of my education as a Roman Catholic priest, that is, of the Latin rite, but also as literate humanist, who once taught Latin in a small seminary. How delightful it would be, if everyone in the world understood Latin! Sometimes travel guides appear, or conversation manuals in Latin with such charming expressions: Apud tonsorem, at the barber's, etc. In what country are you likely to find a barber who understands Latin?
Opening the German Yearbook, "Fischer Weltalmanach 2000" we find that there is only one state in the world in which Latin is an official language, Status Civitatis Vaticanae, the Vatican City. The Republic of San Marino (Res Publica Sancti Marini) has Latin as its second official language, the first being Italian. In the Vatican City Italian is only the second language, but even so it is no use asking a butcher for meat in Latin; everyone speaks Italian. Latin has a position of honor, but not in everyday life.
The same can be said of the Church. Latin was the official language until the Second Vatican Council and so it is still. But since the introduction of the vernacular into the liturgy Latin has been banished. Why study Latin, if it is disappearing from the real Church? The liturgy is the home of Latin. In 1970 most of the Pontifical Universities in Rome introduced Italian, though of course they retained a position of honour for Latin. I myself arrived in Rome to seek a higher degree in Biblical study in that same year 1970 when the professors asked the students whether they wanted to continue to use Latin. There was a general refusal. Nevertheless some professors - not Italians - continued to lecture in Latin; they were sufficiently eminent to retain their audiences.
The Pontifical Universities were bound to accept the students' work in any of six languages: Latin, Italian, English, French, Spanish and German. For oral examinations the professors were required to accept Latin and Italian, together with any other language they might themselves indicate. I was therefore able to take my examination in my native tongue, Hungarian.
The Catholic Church ended the Latin epoch by introducing vernacular languages into the liturgy. Good Pope John XXIII on the one hand supported this move, on the other he would have liked to preserve Latin. It could not be done. When Pope Paul VI was still an Under Secretary he set up a foundation to support Latin, which, when he became Pope, he raised to the status of a Papal Institution, Opus fundatem "Latinitas", by the letter Romani sermonis 30.06.1976. According to the Annuario Pontificio 2000 (p. 2029) the foundation had the task of encouraging the study of both classical and ecclestical Latin as well as mediaeval Latin, and of supporting the use of Latin in the literature of the Church. The Pope himself judged the entries for the competition (Certamen Vaticanum) for the best Latin work in any category.
The Pope's Latinist was Abbot Carlo Egger CRSA, an Augustinian from the South Tyrol, who had written a Latin text book on a new style, teaching Latin as a living and not a dead language. The Foundation had its own journal, "Latinitas" to further its cause. I quote a sample from the textbook, a description of everyday life: "Cum die XI mensis Decembris anno MDCCCCLXXXIII in placida sede domestica mea, poculum cervisiae asorbilans et fistulam nicotianam sugens, televisificum instrumentum aspicerem, rem, quam alii forsitan flocci faciant, me nonnihil commovit." (On the 13th of December 1983, when I was in my quiet home drinking a glass of beer, smoking a cigar and watching television, I saw something which others might think insignificant, but which for me was moving.") Fr. Egger in the official publications of the Holy See (e.g. Acta Apostolicae Sedis) introduced new Latin words and expressions and published a dictionary.
Still, it did not work. In the Vatican everyone speaks Italian. The 21 Dicasteries of the Vatican accept documents in any of the six languages listed above but it is well known that if you want to have a matter dealt with quickly, you had better present it in Italian, because that is the language used by all the officials. Other languages take their place in the queue.
It is for this reason that, having become a Bishop, twice at Synods in Rome I pleaded that Esperanto take the place of Latin. This was in the course of the two Extraordinary Synods for Europe, on the 29th of November 1991 and 4th of October 1999, in the presence of the Holy Father. I could see that the Synod Fathers were no longer speaking Latin, even though in the first Synod in 1967 Latin was still generally spoken. The first time I spoke of Esperanto as the new Latin I was met with smiles. Eight years later the idea was still resisted, they simply did not know Esperanto. It was useless for me to remark that there was a tinge of antisemitism in this rejection, because the initiator of Esperanto was a Polish Jew. When my works were reported in the press, this observation was ignored. During a break some of my brother bishops asked me, was it a joke? I replied, that I understood that one could hope for attention in the Synod only if one said something sensational; that was why I had commended Esperanto.
At present if a theologian writes something in his own language, it may be looked at by one or two specialists but will not attract any attention abroad. Let a not-so-eminent theologian write an article or a book in English, and everyone reads it, everyone quotes it, it is accepted as professional literature. The great world languages battle for hegemony or at least for joint reign in the field of language. This is also the tragedy of the United Nations, with numerous official languages.
If a national languages becomes a world language it must, like it or not, spread the culture and the thinking of that people. If English is now to become the language for world communication this will be decided by the American dollar, not English culture.
And so it seems to me, if Latin is no longer used in the Church, why on earth not introduce the international, neutral language Esperanto? International understanding within the Church would suddenly become much more simple, much less costly. I do not intend to speak here of the many advantages of Esperanto. Of course what I am talking about is Esperanto used as an auxiliary language, for international use, while at home everyone would speak their own language. If the Church would accept that solution, which has so long been offered, the language problems would disappear.
There are signs already that the Church might be nearer to acceptance. I will mention only the use of Esperanto by Vatican Radio, approval of full liturgical texts in Esperanto, greetings by the Holy Father at Easter and Christmas and acceptance of IKUE, the International Union of Catholic Esperantists by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Sebranice is a small village in the Czech Republic, about 150 kilometres east of Prague. In the valley below the church there is a camping site. Every summer young people from five to ten neighbouring countries meet there. They pray together, they discuss things together, they sing together. Anyone happening to pass by the camp site would suppose that they were speaking Spanish or Italian or Latin. Not so. These young people are speaking Esperanto.
"Patro nia, kiu estas en la cxielo, sanktigata estu via nomo", this is how they recite the Lord's Prayer. It is not far from the Latin, "Pater noster, qui es in caelis, sanctficetur nomen tuum." And the two languages have a historical relationship. Latin is the old Esperanto of the Church. It can look back to a 2000 year history. It was the language of the teachers of the Church and, right up to the early modern times, maintained its central role as the language of educated Europeans. The enormous wealth of original texts in theology mean that Latin must always have an important role. In 1962, in his article "On Latin as a Church Language", the German theologian Karl Rahner emphasized that "a theological education, essential for priests, is unthinkable without a knowledge of Latin."
This book is not designed to contradict that thesis. Here we shall focus our attention only on the current problems of language. And in this context it is worthwhile to consider the merits of Esperanto. Latin has lost its once invaluable role as a means of understanding across frontiers. It has lost this principally because it is so difficult to learn. Even after four or five years of Latin studies many students are incapable of reading Caesar or Cicero in the original. Innumerable declensions and conjugations have to be memorised, though of doubtful necessity from the pedagogical point of view. It is often difficult to decide the role of a word in a Latin sentence, and the vocabulary of this language is vast.
On each of these points Esperanto has the advantage over Latin. In Esperanto there are no irregular verbs. Nouns and adjectives can be recognised at once from the endings -o and -a. Plurals and accusatives take the endings -j and -n. One can express oneself clearly about any subject using a simple system of prefixes and suffixes and as few as 1,000 root-words, while a further thousand allow subtlety and elaboration. It is worth observing that English speakers find up to 89.5% of the roots partly or completely familiar.
Let us go back to the summer camp in Sebranice. When eighty young Christians from the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Germany and Romania spend two weeks living together they have a great deal to say to one another - that is, provided they can understand one another. They bring their different life experiences to the gathering and can discuss together how they may shape their futures.
One of the participants comes from a family of strong faith; under socialism they had to suffer disadvantage and privation. Another comes from an atheistic background. Yet in each one an interest in religious questions, in the person of Jesus, in the Christian way of life, has emerged. The summer camp becomes the springboard for a journey into the new world of faith.
Most young people in Eastern Europe have spent about five years in school learning German or English, with mixed results, often with rather lamentable lack of success. They have heard about Esperanto from their friends or acquaintances or perhaps their parish priest; others have read an article about the language in a religious magazine and taken a correspondence course. Six months is enough to make Esperanto their best 'foreign' language. This raises the question, would it not be sensible to introduce Esperanto into the schools?
Miloslav Svácek, for many years head of the Czech section of IKUE, the International Catholic Esperanto Union, stresses that it is well worth taking some trouble to organize the summer meeting, 'Young people from separate countries come together there for two weeks in a Christian atmosphere, they practice their faith together. There is every reason to rejoice.'
It calls up a fascinating vision of some future time when believers throughout the world may be able to understand each other without any difficulty and then really feel themselves to be one community in Jesus Christ. If the Church would give definite backing to Esperanto this would make it so popular that it might before long be introduced into schools worldwide.
This book will enable readers at any level of interest or responsibility to decide for themselves whether such a step would be desirable.
2. The Idea of a Universal Language
Since the Middle Ages there have been more than a thousand attempts to construct a universal language. Methods and motives were very varied, with a spectrum running from Lingua Ignota, a secret language of Blessed Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) to Klingon, designed by the American linguist Mark Okrand for Star Trek. Here we are interested only in the series of projects which aimed at international understanding.
2.1 The beginning
The theory of Universal Language first blossomed in the 17th century, when national languages had begun to displace Latin among European educated classes. Many philosophers, mathematicians and teachers occupied themselves with the construction of a Lingua universalis. It should, on the one hand, be "easy to learn" and "be of admirable service to communication between different peoples" while at the same time facilitating the process of rational thought. Komensky, Descartes, Newton and Leibniz all tried to create such a language.
They did not generally borrow the vocabulary for their projects from ethnic languages but based it on a classification of ideas. Newton chose to identify each category by a different letter, i.e., tools with s, animals with t and religious matters with 'b'. Leibniz wanted to identify 'Man' as the product of a*r, where a stands for 'animal' and r for 'rational'. The authors themselves recognised that such apriori, philosophical projects for a usable language involved a multitude of difficulties. It is, therefore, no wonder that the dream of a new language to illuminate the human mind had to remain utopian.
A more promising idea seemed to be the development of an a posteriori planned language, that is, a language whose vocabulary and grammar would be guided by those of one or more ethnic languages. The first of these, that of Philippe Labbé (1607-1667) was based on Latin, with the title, "grammatica lingue universalis missionum et commerciorum". During the following centuries there appeared at least thirty further attempts to modify Latin, of which Latine sine flexione (1903) is the best known. There were many other experiments to modify English, French and some Slavic languages. The earliest international a posteriori project was a draft by A. Gerber in 1832.
Universalglot, proposed in 1868 by Jean Pirro (1831-1886), a teacher in Lotharingen, seemed one of the most natural and agreeable: "Ma senior! I sende evos un gramatik e un verb-bibel de un nuov glot nomed universal glot. In futur I scripterai evos semper in dit glot." However, this quite well designed project did not achieve any practical importance. The first to do so was Volapük, the work of a German priest, Johann Martin Schleyer (1831-1912).
Thanks to the energetic promotion by its author, within a few years of its launch in May 1879 Volapük had a hundred thousand followers throughout the world. Some twenty magazines were published and in 1889 there were already 283 Volapük clubs in existence. However, the system of rules made it very difficult to learn; the words seemed peculiar and artificial, and by the turn of the century Volapük faded just as rapidly as it had flowered.
In Warsaw in 1887 Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof (1859-1917) published the first textbook of his international language, under the pseudonym 'Doktoro Esperanto'. His aim was to contribute to peace and understanding between peoples. Before long the 'nom-de-plume' Esperanto (one who hopes) came to be used as the name of the language itself.
Esperanto became the most successful planned language. We shall discuss it in more detail in the next chapter.
2.3 Other New projects
In the early years of the last century there were a number of attempts to reform Volapük and Esperanto and to produce new languages. In 1905 two Frenchmen, Louis de Beaufront (1855-1935) and Louis Couturat (1868-1914), published the Ido project, a reformed Esperanto which was adopted by about 20% of the leaders of the Esperanto movement and at least 3-4% of the ordinary members before the First World War. Ido was followed in 1922 by Occidental and this in turn by Novial (1928). In 1951 in New York the 'International Language Association' (IALA) published Interlingua, designed by Alexander Gode. Interlingua endeavored to resemble 'natural' languages, and for that reason accepted irregularities.
Even now new language projects are published almost every year. Internet search engines give an abundance of information about, for example, Lingua Franca Nova (1995) by C. George Boeree, U.S.A., Europanto (1996) by Diego Marani in Belgium, who intended it only as a joke, Latina Nova (1999) by Henricus de Stalo, Ludlange (2000) by Cyril Brosch, both in Germany, and Toki Pona (2001) by Christian Richard, Canada. As often as not these languages are invented for the amusement of the authors, but those who hope that their work may find general acceptance soon learn how difficult it is to attract even one other speaker for the new language.
It is interesting to observe that each new plan attracted those who had adopted Ido, and then moved from one novelty to another. Few language projects survived their inventors. Esperanto is now spoken by from one to three million people in 120 countries, Interlingua by perhaps a thousand in 25 countries and Ido by 200 in 10 countries.
2.4 Some comparisons
Below are examples of the first sentence of the Lord's Prayer in some of the planned languages.
Volapük, Schleyer 1879
O fat obas kel binol in süls, paisaludomöz nem ola, kömomoed monargän ola, jenomöz vil olik, äs in sül i su tal.
Esperanto, Zamenhof 1887
Patro nia, kiu estas en la cxielo, sanktigata estu via nomo, venu via regno, farigxu via volo, kiel en la cxielo, tiel ankaux sur la tero.
Latino sine flexione, Peano 1903
Patre nostro qui es in celos, que tuo nomine fi sanctificato, que tuo regno adveni, que tua voluntate es facta sicut in celo et in terra.
Ido, de Beaufront and Couturat 1905
Patro nia, qua esas en la cielo, tua nomo santigesez, tua regno advenez, tua volo facesez quale en la cielo, tale anke en la tero.
Interlingua, Gode 1951
Nostre Patre, qui es in le celos, que tu nomine sia sanctificate; que tu regno veni; que tu voluntate sia facite super le terra como etiam in le celo.
Klingon, Okrand 1985
vavma' QI'tu'Daq, quvjaj ponglIj: ghoSjaj wo'lIj, qaSjaj Dochmey DaneHbogh, tera'Daq QI'tu'Daq je.
3. Ludwig Zamenhof
3.1 The origin of Esperanto
"The idea, to which I have really given my whole life, appeared to me,
ridiculous though it may seem, when I was
only an infant, and since then it has never left me. I live with it and I cannot imagine myself without it." wrote
Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof in 1895 to his Russian friend Nikolaj Borovko. Zamenhof was born in 1859 under the
rule of the Russian Tsar in the town of Bia$lystok which is now in north-east Poland close to the border with
Belarus. Zamenhof later explained the importance of this town for the genesis of Esperanto:
The place where
I was born and spent my childhood gave direction to all my future struggles.
Bia$lystok the inhabitants were divided into four distinct elements: Russians, Poles, Germans and
Jews; each of these spoke their own language and looked on all the others as enemies. In such a
town a sensitive nature feels more acutely than elsewhere the misery caused by language division
and sees at every step that the diversity of languages is the first, or at least the most influential,
basis for the separation of the human family into groups of enemies. I was brought up as an idealist;
I was taught that all people were brothers, while outside in the street at every step I felt that there
were no people, only Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews and so on. This was always a great torment
to my infant mind, although many people may smile at such an 'anguish for the world' in a child.
Since at that time I thought that 'grown-ups' were omnipotent, so I often said to myself that when I
grew up I would certainly destroy this evil.
While still a schoolboy, Ludwig Zamenhof began working on the construction
of a language which would unite
people. He was the son of a language teacher. Russian was his mother-tongue, but as a child he spoke Polish
and German fluently. He soon learnt French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and English, and was also interested in
Yiddish, Italian, Spanish and Lithuanian.
His new language must at least be easy to learn, give advantage to none
and put no one at a disadvantage. By
the age of eighteen he had already composed a first draft of it. With a group of his classmates he celebrated its
birthday in December 1878. Together they sang the hymn of "Lingwe Uniwersala" which began with the
Malamikece de las nacjes Enmity of the nations,
Kadó, kadó, jam temp' está! Fall, fall; it is already time!
La tot' homoze in familje The whole of humanity must
Konunigare so debá. Unite in one family.
However, Zamenhof did not stop working on his language and by 1881 had
completed another draft version. He
endeavoured to think directly in his language and by this means finally discovered that, in his own words, "I can
assert with certainty that it is no longer an unsubstantial shadow of whatever language I might be occupying
myself with at the time; it has gained its own individual aura, its own soul, its own life, its own characteristic
physionomy, its own expressions independent of any influence. The language flowed of its own accord, flexible,
elegant and completely free, just like the living mother-tongue."
So in 1885 the Lingvo Internacia took its definitive form. Zamenhof
wrote a small book to teach the language.
But no publisher was willing to take it on. Let Zamenhof himself describe how he solved the problem:
In 1886 I began
my work as an ophthalmologist in Warsaw. There I came to know my wife,
Zilbernik from Kovno (...). We were married on the 9th of August 1887. I had explained my ideas
and plans for my future activity to my fiancée. And I asked her, would she share her future with me.
She not only accepted, no sooner had she heard my request than she gave me all the money at her
disposal and this enabled me, after a long and futile search for a publisher to myself publish (in July
1887) my first small brochures (to teach Esperanto through the medium of Russian, Polish, German
The brochures had a detailed introduction in which Zamenhof explained
what great benefits an international
language would have for learning, for business and for understanding between peoples, for science and
commerce. It is worth remarking here that Zamenhof already insisted that his language 'would not force itself
upon the domestic life of any people'. It is certainly not his fault that Esperanto has still today to combat the
prejudice that it will undermine the national languages.
These first textbooks also contained the 16 Rules of Grammar fundamental
to the International Language, with
some examples: the Lord's Prayer, the first verses of the Book of Genesis, a translation of some poems of
Henrich Heine and two poems originally written in the new language. A folded sheet had a list of 917 word-roots
with an explanation and application of each. On the second page of each brochure there is a notable entry:
'An international language, like every national one, is the property of society, and the author renounces all personal rights in it for ever.' Unlike the inventor of Volapük, Johann Martin Schleyer, Zamenhof handed over his language to be developed by those who would use it. "I know very well that the work of one man alone cannot be free from errors. (...) Every improvement must come from the advice of the rest of the world. I do not wish to be called creator of the language, I want only to be the initiator."
3.2 The first years of the new language
Zamenhof distributed his Unua Libro to well-known persons, newspaper
editors and institutions throughout the
world. Replies soon came back, with questions, criticism and advice, and also with with a great deal of
agreement and praise. Some were even written in the new language. Zamenhof decided to reply to all the
questions and encouragement in a booklet which he published in the beginning of 1888 with the title 'Dua libro
de l' lingvo Internacia' (Second book of the International Language).
It was written entirely in Esperanto and in it he told how his faith
in humanity had been vindicated 'because a
great mass of people have come from all sides, young and old, men and women to join in the work, hurrying to
bring their stones to build this splendid, significant and most useful structure'. Only a few months after
publication of the Dua Libro, Zamenhof was able to publish the first literary work in Esperanto, the story 'The
Snow Storm' by Pushkin in a translation not by Zamenhof himself, but by the Polish chemist, Antoni Grabowski
In December 1888 the Nuremberg Volapük Club converted to Esperanto.
In this way the first Esperanto
association was founded. In September it began to publish a monthly review, 'La Esperantisto'. About the same
time there appeared an Address Book with the signatures of 1000 people who had already learnt Esperanto. In
January 1892 Zamenhof was able to state "After four years our literature numbers more than fifty works. There
are 33 grammars and dictionaries of our language in various national languages." [Irish readers will be
interested to know that the English translation was produced by an extraordinary Irish linguist, living in Alaska,
Richard Geoghegan, who had seen the Unua Libro in very poor English translation made by a well-meaning
German, and at once wrote in Latin to Zamenhof offering his services.]
However Esperanto had to struggle with many difficulties during the
years that followed. Zamenhof was
miserably poor because neither in Warsaw not Grodno (where he lived between 1893 and 1897) did his
income as an ophthalmologist suffice to keep his family with dignity. His debts increased, and in this situation
even his wife could not accept his passionate involvement in his language.
Vasilij Nikolaevich Devjatnin, one of the first Russian Esperantists, tells of a visit to Zamenhof in 1893:
me to his wife, about whom he said quite openly that she was not in favour
Esperanto because on account of it he lost many of his patients. "Very likely," he said with a laugh,
"they are afraid to come to me, because they must think I'm a bit mad, to be working with such
Some speakers of Esperanto kept on trying to persuade Zamenhof to reform
his language. These discussions
took a lot of energy and were in the end quite useless. "The whole of this year has been wasted by these efforts
at reform" he wrote in 1894. He distanced himself from them, confident that soon they would be overcome and
all would be well. And so it was; in the summer of 1984 a clear majority of the readers of 'La Esperantisto' voted
against any reforms.
No sooner was this problem dealt with than the youthful language received
another blow. In February 1885 'La
Esperantisto' published an Esperanto translation of an article by Leo Tolstoy, 'Prudence or belief' which
prompted the Russian censorship to ban entry of the magazine to Russia.
'La Esperantisto' thus lost nearly three quarters of its subscribers
and soon afterwards had to cease
publication. But Esperanto survived this too; from December 1895 the Esperanto-Club of Uppsala published
the magazine, Lingvo Internacia which inherited the role of 'La Esperantisto'.
From about 1900 onwards Esperanto began to make notable progress. Zamenhof's
improved. In France many intellectuals learnt the language and in 1903 the publisher Jean Borel in Berlin began
to publish tens of thousands of brochures promoting Esperanto.
In August 1905 the first World Esperanto Congress was held in Boulogne-sur-Mer
in the north of France. 688
speakers of Esperanto came together from twenty countries and were enthusiastic about the amazing
efficiency of the new language. Here Zamenhof insisted in his opening speech, "It is not French with English nor
Russians with Poles who are meeting here, but people with people". And Theodore Fuchs, a University
Professor from Vienna, reported more euphorically, "Grace touched the people, the miracle of Pentecost was
renewed. All felt themselves to be brothers united under the green flag of Hope... Tears filled the eyes of elderly,
sensible men, a Catholic priest embraced a Protestant pastor, and the creator of the new language, Zamenhof,
wandered as if in a dream, his whole body trembling, his composure preserved with difficulty".
3.3 Zamenhof's View of the World
For Zamenhof the international language was part of a wider ideal. He
imagined a world in which all barriers
between people would disappear, whether barriers of language, religion, ethnicity or class. But not all
Esperanto-speakers were satisfied when he explained his thoughts to them. About the year 1900, the French
theologian de Beaufront objected to any link between the language and an idealistic vision. He emphasized
instead the practical value of the language, he saw it as a means of understanding in international contacts, he
drew attention to its use in commerce, science and tourism. De Beaufront did not take part in the first World
Congress. The idealistic, almost religious traits in the early Esperanto movement repelled him; he regarded
them as a great danger to the success of Esperanto.
Zamenhof endeavoured to find a compromise between his personal pacifist
convictions, which he shared
principally with many Russian pioneers of Esperanto, and the more sober and realistic attitude of other
Esperantists, mainly French. During the first World Congress he proposed a Declaration, which was
unanimously accepted. In it he defined 'Esperantism' as 'the effort to extend throughout the world the use of a
neutral, human, language which, neither intruding in any way into the domestic life of any people nor having any
intention of doing away with the existing national languages', would give members of different nations the
means to communicate with each other; which could serve as a peace-making language for public institutions
in countries within which different language communities are in conflict with one another, and in which writing of
equal interest to all peoples may be published. Any other idea or hope which an individual Esperantist may link
with esperantism is entirely his own private affair, for which esperantism has no responsibility".
If we look at Zamenhof's religious worldview the above declaration shows
that Esperanto is neutral as regards
religion or ideology; a liking for the language or membership of its organisation does not imply approval of any
Zamenhof was a not a Christian but he sympathized with Christian belief
and with all religions which are open to
dialogue and collaboration. His mother was a pious Jewess; his father was an atheist. He himself gives an
acccount of his religious development:
When I was a
child I believed in God and in the immortality of the soul in the way in
which I was
taught by the religion into which I was born. I do not remember exactly in what year I lost my religious
faith; I do remember that my lack of faith was deepest when I was between fifteen and sixteen years
old. That was also the most stressful time of my life. In my eyes the whole of life lost all meaning and
At the age of 17 he became aware of something new; 'I suddenly felt
that death was not disappearance', he
wrote, and he formed a belief in a 'powerful incorporeal mystery, which is also a fountain of love and truth,' as he
wrote in 1905 in his poem Sub la verda standardo. He knew what a positive effect religious belief can have,
The child of
a declared unbeliever can never feel in his heart that warmth, that happiness
church, the traditional customs, the possession of 'God' in his heart give to other children. How
cruelly the child of the nonreligious parents suffers when he sees other children, perhaps very poor,
but with happy hearts going to their churches, while he has no guiding rules, no feast days, no
He told some young Christians, 'I am simply of Hebrew birth, a believer
in humanity; ... but what can be more
beautiful in the world than to follow completely the teachings of Jesus?'
Some sort of religious conviction compelled Zamenhof to long for a world
in which love, truth and peace would
reign. He probably expressed this most clearly in the above mentioned 'Prayer under the Green Banner'. His
childhood experiences and the murderous pogroms by Russian soldiers in his native town, Bialystok, made him
resolute in his determination to help people to live peacefully together. In his speech to the second World
Esperanto Congress in Geneva in 1906 he said:
In the streets
of my unhappy native town savage men with axes and iron bars threw themselves
cruel beasts upon the peaceful inhabitants whose only fault was that they spoke a different language
and had their own religion, different from these savages. On this account they broke the skulls and
put out the eyes of men and women, frail old people and helpless children. I do not want to tell you
the terrible details of the monstrous Bialystok butchery; to you as Esperantists I want to say only, that
the walls between the peoples, the walls against which we fight, are still fearfully high and thick.
Because of these experiences he emphasizes that he emphasizes that "we
want to have nothing to do with the
kind of Esperanto that wishes to serve commerce and practical utility exclusively!" For him what matters is
"brotherhood and justice between all peoples".
He was equally decided, but not so outspoken as he was about linguistic
barriers, in his wish to bring religions
closer together. The sixth and last verse of his poem says, "Christians, Hebrews and Muslims, we are all
children of God." But during the first Congress, when he recited the poem after the opening speech and in the
"Fundamenta Krestomatio" to which he transferred it, these lines are missing. Marjorie Boulton, author of a
biography of Zamenhof in English, wrote:
For many years
friends forced Zamenhof to castrate the poem ideologically, omitting the
according to which Christians, Jews and Moslems are all children of God; his Christian friends in
France, and even some non-Christians friends feared that, in the period of the Dreyfus case, that
concept would compromise Esperanto in many eyes.
Zamenhof conducted himself with similar caution in connection with his
writings about "Hillelism" or
"homaranismo." These were concerned with teaching human brotherhood. The term "Hillelism" comes from
Hillel, a learned Jew who was active between the years 30 B.C. and 10 A.D. in Jerusalem. In case it should
appear that he was concerned only with discrimination against Jews, Zamenhof later preferred the title
Homaranismo. As early as 1901 Zamenhof wrote a tract entitled "Hillelismo" and sent it to some friends. In
1906 he offered it to a wider public, publishing it in the form of a brochure and in an article in the Ruslanda
Esperantisto. Both were anonymous, and in footnotes he always called attention to the fact that one could be a
very good Esperantist and object to both Hillelism and homaranismo.
In the World Esperanto Congress in 1912 in Cracow Zamenhof requested
that he be relieved of all offices in the
Esperanto movement, so that he could work for his ideals as an ordinary person. Now he felt himself free to
publish a brochure entitled 'Homaranismo' under his own name, with content almost identical to that of 1906. It
appeared in Madrid in 1913. The following extracts give an idea of his thoughts:
I believe that
all peoples are equal and I value every human being according to his personal
and his actions, not his origin. I regard as barbarity every offence or persecution of a human being
merely because he is of another race, with another language or religion different from my own.
I believe that
every country belongs not to this or that race, but with fully equal rights
to all the people
living in it.
These extracts demonstrate that Zamenhof was ahead of his time. His
struggles for mutual respect,
understanding, equal rights and peaceful co-existence of religions and peoples are as relevant today as ever.
4. The Church and Esperanto
4.1 The Early Years
The history of the Christian Esperanto movement is almost as old as
the language itself. Just a few months after
the first textbook appeared, a few Catholic priests became interested in the new language, among them Bishop
Zerr in Saratov.
The first really active Catholic Esperantists were the Lithuanian Aleksandras
Dambrauskas (1860-1938) and
the Frenchman Louis de Beaufront (1855-1935) who was mentioned in the previous chapter. Dambrauskas
had heard that Esperanto had appeared as early as 1887, when he was a student in the seminary at St
Petersburg. He ordered a copy of the "Unua Libro" from Zamenhof and began enthusiastically learning the new
language. Only a week later, he wrote his first postcard to Zamenhof in flawless Esperanto. Dambrauskas wrote
the first Esperanto textbook for Lithuanians. It appeared in 1890 in Tilsit (Germany), from where it was
smuggled into Lithuania because, until 1904, the Czarist government forbade Lithuanians to publish in their
mother tongue. Even Zamenhof, living in what was then the Russian city of Warsaw (and from 1893-1897 in
Grodno) dared only put the book on sale secretly. "For reasons, which you probably know (our laws do not
permit Lithuanian books in Latin script) the book must figure in the 'List of Titles' as 'unobtainable'", he wrote to
Dambrauskas en 1896.
By 1893 Dambrauskas had already begun to write original verse in Esperanto.
He is known as "the poet of the
Catholic Esperanto movement". His "Versajxareto" (Little Book of Verse - 1905) is probably the first collection
of poems by an individual poet in Esperanto. He also wrote two small books on mathematics and one on
philosophy, "Malgrandaj pensoj pri grandaj demandoj" (Little thoughts on big questions). For half a century, until
his death in 1938, he remained faithful to Esperanto.
Louis de Beaufront was the first French Esperantist. He learned the
language in 1888 and at once began to
publicise it enthusiastically. In 1892 he published a French-language textbook on Esperanto, followed by
various books of exercises, dictionaries, grammars and information brochures. De Beaufront, whose real name
was Louis Chevreux, had studied linguistics, philosophy and theology; he had a doctorate in theology and
earned his living as, among other things, a private tutor. In 1893 he wrote a small book with the title "Pregxareto
por katolikoj" (A Prayer Booklet for Catholics). Beginning in 1898, he published the French-language periodical
"L' Espérantiste" which a year later appeared with a supplement in Esperanto. De Beaufront was always willing
to make room in it for articles by Catholic Esperantists. In 1908 de Beaufront left the Esperanto movement and
dedicated his energies to Ido, which he invented together with Couturat.
Both Dambrauskas and de Beaufront took a critical view of Zamenhof's
views on religion. The two of them
carried on a lively correspondence with Zamenhof about his "Homaranismo", notably in the magazine
"Ruslanda Esperantisto". Dambrauskas was a Catholic priest who, because of his personal beliefs, preferred
to keep a certain distance from other denominations and religions. From 1889 to 1895 he was exiled to
northern Russia by the Czarist government because he had forbidden Catholic school pupils to obey an order
to attend a Russian Orthodox school. Dambrauskas thought that Homaranismo was "anti-religious" because it
put other principles above the teachings of Jesus Christ. Zamenhof replied that Homaranismo could not
possibly turn anyone away from religion; on the contrary, it could lead freethinkers back to God. Zamenhof's
open letter to Dambrauskas in "Ruslanda Esperantisto" May 1906 ended with these words:
To you, Mr D.,
whom I know to be sincerely and deeply religious in practice and a most
priest of God - to you I ask: if you could turn to that great moral Force, whom you call God, and ask
Him whether He prefers that people should have many religions and thus hate one another, and
each one say that only their religion is the true one; or that people should erect a bridge between
them by which all religions will gradually be able to be forged into one religion, and they should
construct shared temples in which they will be able to work out their own shared ideals and mores in
fraternity, - what would God reply? If you are certain that He would prefer the first, then fight against
homaranismo; but if you think he would choose the second, then do not fight for us (since I
understand that as a priest you cannot do this, at least not now), but at least do not fight against us,
for in fighting against us, you will be fighting against the will of the One whom you have always
honestly and sincerely served.
By contrast, de Beaufront criticised Zamenhof for 'naively hoping that
homaranismo would give total peace and
happiness to mankind'. In reply Zamenhof told him:
We know very
well that homaranismo will not make angels out of men, just as the Esperantists
always known that about Esperanto. We have no hope of changing the hearts of those who do not
want peace - we want only : a) to make interracial justice and brotherhood possible for those many
persons who desire it and for whom the lack of a neutral language, a religious and moral foundation
has until now entirely ruled out all mutual fraternisation; b) to secure (and by shared communication
to constantly perfect) precisely formulated principles by which those persons may be guided who in
their hearts might feel the need for interracial equality and fraternity, but constantly sin against it
simply because of insufficient reflection and the lack of a definite programme.
By restrained persuasion Louis de Beaufront succeeded in interesting
many people in France in Esperanto.
One of them was Emile Peltier, parish priest of Sainte-Radegonde near Tours. En 1901 Peltier began learning
Esperanto, and only a year later another French Esperantist, Henri Auroux, suggested to him that a Catholic
Esperanto organisation should be founded. Peltier accepted the suggestion. He and Auroux drew up a
constitution and began recruiting members. The archbishop of Tours, René François, gave them permission to
found an association.
my judgement of an enterprise which aims to unite Catholics of all nations
international auxiliary language called Esperanto. I most willingly approve this project which seems
to me to favour the spread of the Gospel and the strengthening of unity between nations.
Consequently December 1902 saw the founding of the "Espero Katolika"
(Catholic Hope) Society. Although
Peltier and Auroux succeeded in attracting about 80 members, no one apart from themselves was willing to
take on a share of the work. As a result they failed in their attempt to register the association under French law.
In 1903 Peltier and Auroux decided to disband the Society in the meantime in order to found a magazine which
would serve as "an international link between Catholics". Its first issue appeared in October 1903 under the
same name of "Espero Katolika". Auroux took on the editing of the magazine while Peltier became its director
with responsibility for administration and finding new subscribers. But only four months later, in February 1904,
Auroux stepped down as editor, possibly because his tendency towards "less than correct linguistic usage"
provoked a great deal of criticism.
After that the whole workload fell on Peltier's shoulders - the editing
of the magazine plus the administration of
subscriptions and publicity. And all the while Peltier had to fulfil his duties as parish priest. On top of that there
were financial problems because the income from the 300 subscriptions in 1904 was insufficient to cover the
costs of composing and printing the pages and dispatch. Furthermore he suffered from health problems.
But Peltier remained optimistic and pressed on for his ideals. He received
fresh encouragement from the first
World Congress in 1905. He was seized by the idea of brotherhood not only between people of many nations
but also of different religions and was encouraged to undertake ecumenical activity. In January 1906 he
published his "Open letter to all Christian pastors":
[...] It seems
to me that the first step that needs to be taken is the unification of
religions. Many beliefs, prayers and hopes are common to all Christians. Only a few points were, in
an already distant past, causes of disunity among them.
Do you not think
that the time has now come when one might examine those old disputes in
unity and fraternity, with souls entirely free of past passions? Is it not amazing, regrettable,
intolerable that disciples of he who commanded "Love one another" continue their mutual hatred
because of conflicts which happened centuries ago?
Peltier suggested setting up a union of Esperanto-speaking Christian
clergy for joint discussions leading to
"international fraternity". He received a number of responses, some positive but most sceptical. In the opinion of
Fr Requin, a French priest, it was not difficult to arrange a friendly discussion between clergy of different
denominations; but there remained the problem of "overcoming disputes about dogma". The Anglican
clergyman John Cyprian Rust agreed in principle with Peltier's ideas but also expressed the fear that
cooperation between Catholic and Protestant Esperantists might damage the reputation of the language in the
individual Churches. It may be that Peltier had in fact underestimated the differences between the
denominations, but his ideas for overcoming them remain valid to the present day.
1906 was also the year of the first papal blessing for the Catholic
Esperanto movement. In a private audience
on the 2nd of June in that year Father Luigi Giambene, a priest and Esperantist in Rome, gave Pope Pius X
copies of the first volumes of "Espero Katolika" and the "Pregxareto por Katolikoj" by Louis de Beaufront.
Some time later he received the following letter in Italian from the Vatican dated 27th of June and signed by
Monsignor Giovanni Bressan:
I have the honour
to inform you that the Holy Father has generously and with particular pleasure
been so good as to accept the published issues of Espero Katolika Magazine, which you humbly
presented to Him in the name of Father Emile Peltier. Very Reverend Monsignor, please make the
pontifical pleasure known to Father Peltier and communicate the Apostolic Blessing which His
Holiness has given to you and to the editors of the Magazine.
The Second World Esperanto Congress took place in Geneva from the 28th
of August to the 2nd of September
1906. There the Spanish priest Antonio Guinard celebrated Holy Mass in Esperanto while Peltier ascended the
pulpit with obvious emotion to preach - with the permission of the general vicariate of Geneva - in Esperanto.
But that was the last World Congress in which Peltier was able to take
part. His illness caused him increasing
suffering and the magazine "Espero Katolika" frequently appeared only after long delays. But appear it did. "His
moral and spiritual powers were simply enormous - but unfortunately his physical ones were not" wrote Nico
Hoen in his "History of the International Catholic Esperanto Union", "and it was only those powers, drawn from
the deepest faith in God, which sustained Peltier's immeasurably admirable determination and courage."
Only after the magazine ceased publication in August 1908 were people
found who were prepared to take over
Peltier's work. Twenty four-year-old Claudius Colas became the new editor-in-chief and the English abbot
Austin Richardson took over the administration. Early in 1909, "Espero Katolika" reappeared with an article
written by Peltier who in doing so disobeyed the orders of his doctor to rest completely. Shortly afterwards
Peltier went on pilgrimage to Lourdes and asked Mary to "either heal him or grant him the grace of dying at the
shrine". That was the grace granted to him. Peltier died in Lourdes on the 17th of February 1909 aged 38. "He
put his beloved magazine into our hands as a dying mother entrusts her beloved child into the hands of friends"
wrote Claudius Colas in the March 1909 issue of "Espero Katolika".
In April 1910, a little over a year after Peltier's death, the first
Catholic Esperanto Congress was held in Paris.
That congress saw the founding of the Internacia Katolika Unuigo Esperantista (International Catholic
Esperanto Union - IKUE). In the years that followed, the new association flourished. Every year thereafter, IKUE
congresses were held: in the Hague in 1911, in Budapest in 1912 and in Rome in 1913. The magazine
"Espero Katolika" appeared regularly every month.
In August 1914 the 5th IKUE congress should have been held in Lourdes.
The preparations went ahead as
planned; in the July-August 1914 issue of "Espero Katolika" the Irish priest Patrick Parker "with great pleasure"
announced a papal blessing for the congress. But the First World War suddenly broke out. The congress did
not take place; the principal organiser, 29-year-old Claudius Colas, was called up for military service and died
only a few weeks later on the 11th of September at the battle of the Marne.
During the First World War "Espero Katolika" was no longer published
and the Catholic Esperantists' other
activities were also interrupted.
4.2 The Protestant Esperanto movement
Protestant Christians, who had learned Esperanto and put it to use,
also founded an international association in
the early years of the 20th century. The creation of this association is closely linked to the YMCA - the Young
Men's Christian Association. In 1906 the secretary of the Central Committee of the YMCA in Geneva, Baron W.
von Starck, visited the second World Esperanto Congress in his city. He was immediately convinced of the
value Esperanto could have for his association and in January 1907 he published a very favourable article
about Esperanto in several YMCA periodicals. Soon quite a few members of the Association became
interested in the language while some studied it seriously and looked for penfriends among their
fellow-believers. In February 1908 the German engineer Paul Hübner (1881-1970) from Mülheim on the Rhein
(now a district of the city of Cologne) began publishing a small newspaper with the title "Esperanto en la servo
de la Dia Regno" (Esperanto in the Service of God's Kingdom). As Hübner emphasized, it aimed to be "a link
between all Christian Esperantists", "a community newsletter on the Christian life throughout the world" and "a
guide to Jesus Christ as our only Saviour".
Just as in the Catholic Esperanto movement, the Protestant movement
also founded a magazine before an
association. And here too the work of editor and administrator weighed for a long time on the shoulders of one
man, who was prepared to take on both the work and the financial losses. By the end of 1908 Hübner had found
just over 80 subscribers in 12 countries and from January 1909 he published the paper under the abbreviated
title "Dia Regno" (God's Kingdom) under which name it has appeared with occasional interruptions to the
On the 25th of August 1911, during the 7th World Esperanto Congress
in Antwerp, a meeting of Protestant
Esperantists was held. There a proposal to found an international Christian association was unanimously
accepted. In the following months there was a lively exchange of correspondence about the constitution and the
name of the organisation; finally "Kristana Esperantista Ligo" (Christian Esperanto League - KEL) was agreed
upon. KEL was officially founded only two years after the meeting in Antwerp, on the 24th of August 1913 in the
World Congress in Berne; Paul Hübner was elected president. By tradition however, KEL regards the 25th of
August 1911 as its foundation date.
An important event for Christian Esperantists of all denominations was
the publication of the New Testament in
Esperanto in 1912. In 1909 a committee in England began the translation under the supervision of Rev. John
Cyprian Rust (ca 1850-1927) and a little over three years later published "La Nova Testamento de nia Sinjoro
kaj Savanto Jesuo Kristo" (The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ). The first edition of 5,000
copies sold out in only a few months.
For KEL too, there were signs of progress. The cooperation with the
YMCA in organising Esperanto courses
worked very well; at the start of 1914 the YMCA's Central Committee even officially recommended "the
introduction of Esperanto in all YMCA unions." 3,739 people registered for the 10th World Esperanto Congress
in Paris at which a further meeting of KEL was to be held and a meeting with Parisian representatives of the
YMCA. But as with the IKUE congress in Lourdes, this World Congress could not take place. And just as with
"Espero Katolika", so too "Dia Regno"'s issue of July/August 1914 was the last for some time. The First World
War brought a halt to the activities of Christian Esperantists.
4.3 From the First to the Second World War
During the First World War the use of Esperanto encountered many obstacles.
At times corresponding in
Esperanto was forbidden because of a lack of censors for the language; at other times Esperanto magazines
were banned as "a harmful influence on the fighters at the front". Almost everywhere the number of Esperanto
courses and meetings was considerably reduced. In 1915 only 163 people, mainly from the United States and
Canada, took part in the 11th World Esperanto Congress in San Francisco. In the neutral state of Switzerland
the Geneva office of the Universala Esperanto-Asocio organised a service for passing on family
correspondence between hostile countries. The "initiator" of Esperanto, Ludwig Zamenhof, died of heart
disease on the 17th of April 1917 in Warsaw.
It is not easy to find information about the activities of Christian
Esperantists during the First World War. But in
his book "Historio de Esperanto" Edmond Privat makes the remarkable claim that "the International Committee
of the YMCA distributed thousands of Esperanto coursebooks to prisoners of war in various countries."
In 1917 Catholic pacifists founded the "Mondpacligo Blanka Kruco" (White
Cross World Peace League) which
used Esperanto in its international contacts from 1918.
In 1920 the magazines "Espero Katolika" and "Dia Regno" resumed publication.
In the years that followed other
Esperanto magazines and associations appeared. The "Internacio Katolika" (Catholic International - IKA)
deserves special mention. It was founded by the priest-martyr Max Josef Metzger (1887-1944) who later
became famous as a pacifist and "pioneer of ecumenism". Although founded in 1920 during the World
Esperanto Congress in the The Hague, IKA deliberately avoided using the word "Esperanto" in its name. The
association also approached those Catholics who did not speak Esperanto and who may not have even
wanted to learn it. From 1921 to 1924 Metzger edited the Esperanto magazine "Katolika Mondo" (Catholic
World) in Graz, Austria.
In autumn 1926, just over 12 years after the New Testament, a complete
Esperanto translation of the Bible was
published in London (though still without the Deuterocanonical books). The Old Testament had been translated
by Zamenhof himself from the original Hebrew. He had finished the work by March 1915. However instead of
immediately sending the manuscript for publication to the Bible Committee in Britain, he could only inform its
president, the Esperantist Rev. John Cyprian Rust, of a major obstacle. Zamenhof wrote to him in French:
"Regrettably I cannot for the moment send you the translation because our postal service is not delivering
anything (during the war) written in Esperanto. Consequently I must wait until the war is over."
For this reason it was only after the First World War - and two years
after Zamenhof's death - that the translation
arrived in Britain, where from 1919 until 1926 the Bible Committee was occupied with reading through the text,
correcting it, harmonising the language of the New and Old Testaments, typesetting and proofreading. Two
women Quakers, the sisters Priscilla (1833-1931) and Algerina Peckover (1841-1927) offered the necessary
financial assistance. Within five years more than 5,000 copies of the Esperanto Bible were sold and Christians
of all denominations praised the translation for its clarity and precision.
With minor corrections here and there, the "London Bible" is frequently
reprinted to this day. In 1992 a modern
translation of the four gospels was published in Brazil by the Dutch clergyman Gerrit Berveling. In 1997 the
complete Esperanto Bible, including the Deuterocanonical books, was published on CD-ROM.
While the 1920s were a time of successive triumphs and disillusionments,
the 1930s brought failures and
In 1931 the Catalan priest Juan Font Giralt from Collell near Gerona
was elected president of IKUE; the
following year he also took over as editor of "Espero Katolika". Towards the end of 1934 Font Giralt fell ill, so
"Espero Katolika" was eventually edited by Dutch members of IKUE. In 1936 Font Giralt's health improved - but
then the Spanish Civil War began in which ten thousand Christians died for their faith. Font Giralt too was
horribly martyred; on the 17th of August his hands were chopped off and his body was burnt.
We now return to the Protestant Esperanto movement. In 1932, after a
pause of several years, the magazine
"Dia Regno" recommenced publication, again in fact under the editorship of Paul Hübner who during the 1920s
had to limit his work for KELI because of personal, professional and financial reasons. During the 1930s
Esperanto prospered in the Netherlands particularly, which to some extent was to KELI and IKUE's advantage.
The situation in Germany was more difficult. There Adolf Hitler came
to power early in 1933. It is well known that
unfortunately many German Christians had an initially favourable opinion of Nazism, and consequently it should
come as no surprise that even Paul Hübner in "Dia Regno"'s issue 4 of 1933 told the KELI members in other
countries that "the tide of atheism" had been halted and "Christianity is saved".
As late as 1936 Hübner expressed the hope that "it should not be
long before our official organisations in
Germany also recognise the value of Esperanto and again support the movement".
But there were no grounds for such optimism. In February 1936 Martin
Bormann, the chief of staff of Hitler's
deputy, signed the following decree:
Because the creation
of an international hybrid language contradicts the basic concepts of National
Socialism and ultimately can only serve the interests of supranational powers, the Führer's deputy
forbids all party members and members of organisations affiliated to the party to belong to all forms
of artificial language associations.
A few months later, on the 20th of June 1936, a decree by the Gestapo
chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the
Esperanto associations in Germany to disband if they wished to avoid being compulsorily dissolved. From then
on all forms of activity by KELI and IKUE were also forbidden in Germany and KELI's international operations
were taken over by Dutch and Swedish members. While most of the German Esperantists lost heart and
accepted the ban on Esperanto activity, Paul Hübner continued to write articles for "Dia Regno". From January
1938 however, these appeared only with the signature "N.N."
At the end of the 1930s both "Espero Katolika" and "Dia Regno" were
being edited in the Netherlands. After
World War Two began, both periodicals were prevented from reaching most of their subscribers. "Espero
Katolika" of January/February 1940 was the last issue until the end of the war. On the 10th of May 1940 German
troops occupied Holland and February 1941 saw the final issue of "Dia Regno" because in March "the entire
Esperanto movement in Holland was banned as 'a Jewish affair'". However Christian Esperantists did not
entirely cease their activities during the Second World War: from 1941 to 1945 KELI's Swedish section
distributed a total of seven issues of "Temporary Dia Regno", but these reached only a small percentage of the
In the countries ruled by Hitler and Stalin, Esperantists were among
the victims of those dictators. In Germany
some Esperantists were arrested and sent to concentration camps merely because of their work for Esperanto;
others were arrested primarily for being of Jewish descent or for their general pacifist involvement. The victims
of Nazism include all three of Zamenhof's children. They had been arrested in January 1940. Zamenhof's only
son, Adam, was immediately shot; the daughters Zofia and Lidja were sent to the Treblinka concentration camp
in 1942 where they were killed in August and October respectively of that same year. The Esperantist and
founder of the Una-Sancta Movement, Max Josef Metzger, was arrested in 1943 and sentenced to death for
treason; on the 17th of April 1944 he was beheaded.
The Soviet dictator Stalin regarded as suspect anyone who had international
contacts and to that category the
Esperantists also belonged. According to various estimates, in the "Great Purge" launched on a massive scale
in March 1937, a total of between 2,000 and 30,000 Esperantists perished. Stalin's victims included famous
Esperanto writers or Esperantologists such as Vladimir Varankin (1902-1938) and Ernest Drezen
4.4 The Post-war Period
After the war ended the Christian Esperanto associations IKUE and KELI
were able to re-establish themselves
quite quickly in the West. In 1946 the periodicals "Espero Katolika" and "Dia Regno" reappeared, and not long
afterwards Protestant Esperantists carried out a long dreamt-of plan: in summer 1948 they held the first KELI
congress in Tostarp, Sweden. Previously they had come together during World Esperanto Congresses where
the KELI meetings were held. But this first independent congress was a total success. "In Europe, still suffering
from thousands of unhealed wounds, that simple coming together of Christians from seven countries, of
brothers and sisters speaking one language ... made an unforgettable impression" reports Henk de Hoog
(1910-2001) in his history of KELI. After that, no one wanted to miss out on this kind of event and since 1948
similar KELI congresses have been held almost every year.
In 1950, after a break of 11 years, Catholic Esperantists once again
organised a congress. It was the 22nd
IKUE Congress and the third held in Rome (after those of 1913 and 1935).
In Eastern Europe the situation remained very difficult. There, under
Stalin's influence, Communist regimes
were set up which were hostile both to Esperanto and to Christianity and consequently had two reasons for
banning the activities of IKUE and KELI. During the "Cold War" era, contact with Western countries where IKUE
and KELI had their headquarters was frowned on, while the governments of Soviet Union's satellites wanted to
interest their citizens in the "real world language", namely Russian. In the German Democratic Republic for
example, Esperantists were allowed neither to organise nor publicise their language from 1949 until 1965 and
even after that Esperanto activity was possible only within the framework of specified structures which did not
allow for cooperation with IKUE or KELI.
The situation in Poland was somewhat more favourable. In 1957 the government
at least allowed in "Espero
Katolika" (although difficulties remained over the payment of subscriptions). But for a long time close
cooperation between Christian Esperantists from East and West was not possible and so it is not surprising
that in the 1950s and 1960s all IKUE and KELI congresses were held in Western countries.
In the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) the Catholic Church emphasized
its readiness for ecumenical
cooperation. In July 1966 IKUE accepted KELI's invitation to organise the first joint congress of the two
associations. It took place in Limburg (Germany) and was at the same time la 32nd Congress of IKUE and the
21st KELI Congress.
In the same year, the "Prague Spring" encouraged the Czech members of
IKUE and members of the Hussite
Church to send out invitations to an ecumenical Esperanto congress in their country. It was scheduled to take
place in summer 1970 in Brno. But after the Soviet armed forces invaded, a "normalisation process" began
and the Ministries of Culture and the Interior banned the holding of the congress six weeks before its planned
opening. The congress was moved to Klagenfurt but only a few of those from Eastern Europe who registered
for it succeeded in getting the necessary Austrian visa in time.
In yet another initiative by Czech IKUE members, the Catholic Esperanto
Camps begun in 1969. They were
officially called "Recreational Esperanto Camps" so as to partly conceal their religious character. For several
years every summer young Catholics from Czechoslovakia and some other countries such as Poland, Hungary,
the Netherlands and Italy came together there in friendship - until in July 1977 police raided the camp and
arrested the organisers, Miloslav Svacek and Father Vorjtech Srna. Shortly afterwards IKUE's Czech section
Once again the situation was brighter in Poland where in that same summer
the 37th IKUE Congress was held.
It was the first congress of its kind in a socialist country and is still the largest-ever IKUE congress with more
than 700 participants. Catholics from East and West met twice more in socialist countries before the fall of the
Iron Curtain - in Varna (1978) and Czestochowa (1987).
The extinction of the totalitarian regimes gave Christian Esperantists
in Eastern Europe the freedom they had
dreamed of for so long. On the 19th of May 1990 almost 13 years after it was banned, IKUE's Czech section
was re-established and - still under the leadership of Miloslav Svacek - it immediately became one of the most
active national branches of IKUE. Active IKUE sections were also established in Romania and Lithuania.
Today, both IKUE and KELI are characterised by continuity and stability.
From 1961 to 2000 the German pastor
Adolf Burkhardt was president of KELI (apart from the years 1975-1981). In summer 2000 his post was taken
over by Jacques Tuinder (Netherlands). In IKUE the same office was filled from 1979 to 1995 by the Italian
priest Duilio Magnani from Rimini until he handed over to Antonio de Salvo. For the first time two IKUE
congresses were held in 1995 - the 48th congress in Olomouc (Czech Republic) and the 49th during the 11th
Ecumenical Esperanto Congress in Kaunas (Lithuania). In the same year IKUE was able to purchase its own
headquarters in Rome; it now serves as the association's office and the editorial department of "Espero
On the 10th of August 1996, during the 15th Catholic Esperanto Camp
in Sebranice, young Catholics from
Belgium, Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary founded the IKUE youth group under the name
of "IKUE-Junularo" (IKUE Youth) or "IKUEJ". According to its constitution, its aims are:
To help young Esperantists find a path to God
and Christian living
To advance international understanding and cooperation between young Catholics worldwide
To strengthen young Catholics in their faith
To popularise Esperanto among Catholics
The members of the association not only meet regularly during Catholic
Esperanto Camps, IKUE congresses
and other Christian events but keep up lively exchanges by letter and e-mail with members in Africa and the
People's Republic of China.
4.5 The Attitudes of Popes and Bishops towards Esperanto
The previous chapter dealt chiefly with the involvement of priests and
laity in support of Esperanto. We now turn
to the attitude of Church authorities to the Esperanto movement.
As early as 1931 the German "Lexicon of Theology and the Church" concluded
its article on Esperanto with the
words: "The popes from Pius X onwards (and numerous cardinals and bishops) welcomed and supported the
Esperanto movement." And in fact in the 20th century all the popes in some degree took a favourable view of
the work of the Catholic Esperantists. Early in the 1930s a note appeared on the cover of "Espero Katolika":
"Honoured by the apostolic blessing of Pope Pius X, 27 June 1906 and by Pope Benedict XV, 20 August 1920
and Pope Pius XI, 11 October 1924." These and other blessings were also documented at the time in the
pages of "Espero Katolika".
Pope Pius X sent his blessing to "Espero Katolika" and the Catholic
Esperantists every year from 1906 until his
death in 1914. In addition he spoke about Esperanto in some of his public audiences. On the 4th of April 1909
he told Isidoro Clé, an Esperantist who was director of an ecclesiastical institute in Brussels: "Esperanto has a
great future before it".
Other quotes exist which came to light only after the death of the pope
concerned, and which reveal nothing
about the time and circumstances of the statement, giving reason to doubt their authenticity. These quotes, in a
number of variations, are frequently reprinted in Catholic publications and even more so by non-Catholic
Esperantists, for instance the following one attributed to Pius X: "I see in the Esperanto language a valuable
means for maintaining ties between Catholics throughout the world." While Saint Pius X's very friendly attitude
towards Esperanto leads one to suppose that this sentence does fully reflect his opinion, we can be less certain
about a quote which is said to have come from Pius XII: "In the future of civilisation I foresee Esperanto having a
position similar to Latin in the Middle Ages".
On the 19th of May 1964 Pope Paul VI received in audience some members
of the IKUE Executive. According
to a report of the then President of IKUE, the Belgian priest Alfons Beckers, the Pope "showed a lively interest
in the Catholic Esperanto movement. He acknowledged the necessity and usefulness of Esperanto and
stressed that he wanted to support a language which enables mutual understanding between peoples, for the
advancement of harmony and peace."
The first statement by a pope about Esperanto to be documented by the
Vatican newspaper "L' Osservatore
Romano" also comes from Paul VI. The 36th IKUE Congress was held in Rome in the Holy Year 1975. During a
general audience in St Peter's Square on the 13th of August 1975 Paul VI introduced the groups present:
"Another international group, about which I will say a special word of introduction shortly, is that of the
participants in the international congress of the Catholic Esperantists. See, they have the green flag which is a
symbol of hope, they are the Esperantists."
And he addressed the congress participants in the following words:
We do not wish
to conclude this part of the audience without addressing our greetings
wishes to the participants in the 36th international congress of the Catholic Esperantists. To your
particular cultural goals you wished to add a most delicate religious note, entering into the spirit of
the Jubilee which speaks to all people of good will of renewal, of conversion, of rediscovered
contact with God, who loves and forgives. May this spirit guide you in the furtherance of fraternity
and mutual understanding among the various peoples of the world with different languages, whom
you strive to benefit according to your distinctive programme. That is our sincere wish, which we
enrich by our apostolic blessing for the gifts of the Lord.
Two years later the 37th IKUE Congress previously referred to took place
in Czestochowa. Its Patron was Karol
Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II. In his greeting to the congress he wrote: "Just as Jesus Christ prayed for
unity among his disciples (Jn 17,11), in the same way I, in the name of the Church, pray for your intentions. May
one faith and one love help you to unite the shattered world in one flock under one Shepherd. And may one
transnational language - Esperanto - serve effectively that noble goal." Wojtyla accepted the invitation to
celebrate Mass in Esperanto by special permission of Paul VI, but at the last moment the funeral of the bishop
of Poznan, Antoni Baraniak, prevented him from coming.
After his election as Pope in 1978 nearly 13 years were to pass before
John Paul II became the first pope to
speak publicly in Esperanto. It was during the 6th World Youth Day in Czestochowa, where, on the 14th of
August 1991, he addressed his greetings to more than one million young people there:
Mi donas ankaux
en Esperanto bonvenan saluton al la junaj pilgrimantoj el la tuta mondo
en cxi tiu
tago de universala frateco, kiu vidas nin unuigitajn kiel filojn de unu sama Patro en la nomo de
Kristo, vero de la homo.
[I also give
a greeting of welcome in Esperanto to the young pilgrims from throughout
the world on
this day of universal brotherhood, which sees us united as sons of the same Father in the name of
Christ, man's truth.]
The next day he again addressed his greetings in many languages to the
youth in Czestochowa. In Esperanto
La sperto de kredo, travivita cxe la piedoj de la "Nigra Madono", restu
gravurita en viaj koroj. Sanktega Maria akompanu vin!
people! May the experience of faith, lived at the feet of the "Black Madonna,
indelibly engraved in your hearts. Most Holy Mary go with you!]
Almost two years later, in the summer of 1993, John Paul II gave his
apostolic blessing to the World Esperanto
Congress in Valencia:
The Holy Father
sincerely greets the organisers and participants of the 78th Esperanto
and encourages them to continue their most honourable efforts for a world in which understanding
and unity reign.
At the same time
the Holy Father asks you to make this meeting of people from different
cultures and denominations, who speak the same language, a witness of that brotherhood which
should reign without any form of discrimination among all human beings as members of the great
family of the children of God, and which encourages personal and collective compromise in order to
build peace in their respective homelands. With these sentiments and asking for God's protection
on the work of the congress and its participants, the Pope gives the desired apostolic blessing.
On the 3rd of April 1994 Pope John Paul II gave his Easter greeting
before the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing in
Esperanto for the first time, wishing "Felicxan Paskon en Kristo resurektinta" ("a Happy Easter in Christ risen").
That was followed in the same year by the Christmas greeting: "Dibenitan Kristnaskon kaj prosperan novjaron"
("A blessed Christmas and a prosperous new year"). The Holy Father has repeated these greetings every year
From the 31st of August to the 7th of September 1997 the jubilee 50th
IKUE Congress was held in Rome and
Rimini with the theme "Go therefore and make disciples of all peoples". During the general audience in St
Peter's Square on the 3rd of September 1997 John Paul II greeted the participants directly in Esperanto:
Mi gxojas bonvenigi
la responsulojn de Internacia Katolika Unuigxo Esperantista, engagxitajn
kvindeka kongreso. Karegaj, la temo de via renkonto reprenas la misian taskon konfiditan de Kristo
al sia Eklezio. Akceptu gxin malavare kun tiu spirito de universaleco, kiu estas cxe la bazo de la
lingvo, kiun vi kulturas.
[I am delighted
to welcome those responsible for the International Catholic Esperanto Union,
engaged in their 50th congress. Dear ones, the theme of your meeting takes up again the
missionary task entrusted by Christ to his Church. Accept it generously with that spirit of universality
which is the basis of the language which you cultivate.]
The words of the Popes were not the only recognition the Catholic Esperanto
movement received from the
Vatican. After the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) had decided to reform the liturgy, in 1966 Esperanto
received partial - and in July 1968, full - recognition as a liturgical language. On the 8th of November 1990 the
Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments approved the Mass texts in Esperanto. The
texts were prepared by a commission led by the Auxiliary bishop of Warsaw Wladyslaw Miziolek (1914-2000).
Since the summer of 1995 the "Missal and Readings for Sundays and Feast days" has been available in the
form of two volumes in high quality binding with a total of 904 pages.
On the 11th of January 1992 IKUE was recognised by a decree of the Pontifical
Council for the Laity as an
international association of the faithful under canon law. In its decree, the Pontifical Council for the Laity
expresses appreciation of IKUE's aims as set out in its constitution as well as "the various activities carried out
by the Union in its programmes and services (Christian formation, publications and communication, charitable
and ecumenical activity)".
A form of recognition with practical importance for the Catholic Esperanto
movement is the use of the language
by Vatican Radio. In the next chapter we will go into more detail about the broadcasts.
It is interesting to know if there have been any negative attitudes
on the part of the Vatican towards Esperanto.
In fact we find some of signs of these in newspaper articles. For example the German Catholic News Agency
KNA reported on the 2nd of February 1995: "But there was at first an attitude of distrust towards Esperanto
within the Catholic Church. For instance its inventor was suspected of being among other things a Freemason."
And in an article about the publication of the Esperanto Missal in the German Catholic magazine "Christ in der
Gegenwart" of 24 September 1995 we read: "The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship had first to
overcome considerable opposition - but finally permitted the Esperanto translation of the Roman Missal."
The Missal itself explains what kind of "considerable opposition" was
involved. Its introductory pages reproduce
the document "Norms for the celebration of the Mass in Esperanto" of the 20th of March 1990 in Italian and
Esperanto. It contains a reference to the circular letter "Decem iam annos" of the 5th of June 1976 which
represented a setback for the Catholic Esperanto Movement. According to the letter, "the Esperanto language
does not of itself offer the qualities which would enable it to be considered a liturgical language and be used
ordinarily in the celebration of the liturgy, because it is not a language spoken by a people."
Concerning the "suspicion" that Zamenhof was a Freemason, it should
first be said that the supposition is
"probably" not correct according to research by the French historian André Cherpillod in 1997; secondly that
Freemasonry certainly merits respect from the Catholic viewpoint; and thirdly that Esperanto is first and
foremost a language which is not tied to any specific world view.
Beside many popes, also Saint Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941) several times
showed favour to Esperanto. In
1937 he encouraged students of the Franciscan seminary in Niepokalanów by the words: "The Immaculated
likes your participation in the Esperanto movement."
If we now turn to the attitude of bishops and cardinals towards Esperanto,
we readily find hundreds of friendly
greetings on the occasion of Christian Esperanto events. When the IKUE congress is held in a country with a
strong Catholic Esperanto movement, such as the Czech Republic, Italy or Poland, it is now almost taken for
granted that one or several bishops will personally visit the congress to greet the participants, praise their work
and celebrate Mass with them. In some countries, such as the Czech Republic in 1991 and Slovakia in 1993,
the Bishops' Conference has recognised the local chapter of IKUE as an ecclesiastical organisation of
laypeople; in other countries - for example in Germany - such recognition has been granted at least in those
dioceses in which IKUE members are especially active.
Some countries have bishops who speak Esperanto and often celebrate
Mass in that language. The bishop of
Eisenstadt (Austria), Dr Paul Iby, speaks the language and has been a member of IKUE for many years.
The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, mastered Esperanto
when he was a student and as a young
priest assisted at Catholic Esperanto camps. In the IKUE Congress in Olomouc (Czech Republic) he
celebrated Mass in Esperanto. In his homily he stated:
When I am with
the Esperantists I always feel not only the advantages of the language,
but that it
brings about more than mutual understanding, it brings community, unity, communication. And at the
level of the Gospel, at the level of the Church, this means one very important thing, because it is not
only community but also the presence of Christ among mankind. Christ came to bring the presence
of God among people, because this is God's plan. This is paradise. And what you enjoy among
yourselves is a real reflection of this.
More frequently than Cardinal Vlk, Karel Otcenáek, the bishop
of Hradec Králové, visits Esperanto events to
encourage the participants in their efforts for better understanding.
When expressing their views on Esperanto Church authorities very often
acknowledge the contribution of this
language towards understanding among peoples and the bringing together of the faithful. On the question of
whether it would be worthwhile making concrete changes in the language policy of the Church and the world,
their attitude is more guarded.
Here, the Romanian bishop György Jakubinyi went one step further.
Jakubinyi was born in 1946 in the
Romanian city of Sighetul Marmatiei whose population consisted of Romanians, Hungarians, Ukrainians and
Jews. In this multicultural environment reminiscent of Bialystok a century before, Jakubinyi learned Esperanto
when he was 13. Later he regularly taught Esperanto to his students while lecturing at the theological college in
Alba Iulia from 1972 to 1992.
In 1991 the First Special Synod for Europe was held in the Vatican.
There Jakubinyi openly called for the
acceptance of Esperanto as a new ecclesiastical language. The German Catholic News Agency agency KNA
The political reversals in Europe have also changed the composition of
simultaneous interpretation team at the venue of the Special Synod for Europe held on Thursday
last week in the Vatican: Latin - the Church's "mother tongue" - is no longer on offer, but replaced by
Russian. In this way the Secretary of the Bishops Synod recognises the fact that among the 200
participants at the assembly are several representatives from Russian-speaking regions.
Auxiliary Bishop György Jakubinyi (Alba Iulia) also made a contribution
subject of language at the Synod. He proposed replacing Latin, which is not in such common use as
it once was, with the international language Esperanto. Latin, the bishop argued, is furthermore a
liturgical language only in the Western Church. To prevent "linguistic imperialism", by which big
nations try to force their language on small ones together with their culture and outlook, he believes
"an artificial international language" is needed behind which no nation stands.
In 1994 Jakubinyi became archbishop of a diocese with half a million
Catholics, of whom 95% are Hungarians.
In October 1999 he addressed the Second European Synod concerning the Romanian Bishops' Conference
which "to a certain extent mirrors Europe" because of its diverse rites (Latin, Greek Catholic and Armenian)
and languages (Romanian, Hungarian, German). "I don't want to idealise our collaboration because there are
problems everywhere" he emphasized, and again proposed Esperanto as a solution to the language problem.
He has repeated his call on several occasions, for instance at the German Catholic Fairs in Dresden (1994)
and Hamburg (2000).
If ever someone truly listens to and considers his suggestion, the following
words which the Polish Cardinal
Stefan Wyszinski spoke in 1974 to the then president of IKUE Duilio Magnani, could prove prophetic. "In the
Second Vatican Council Latin suffered a crisis ... At the next Council they will speak Esperanto."
5. How Christians put Esperanto to practical use
Christian Esperantists make use of their language in many ways. They take part in church services in Esperanto, they meet at the IKUE and KELI congresses, and they read the magazines "Espero Katolika" and "Dia Regno". Many Christian Esperantists correspond with one another, whether by postal mail or through the Internet. Many people are making their first contact with the Christian Esperanto movement on the Internet, so we begin with that.
5.1 The Internet
Pope John Paul II regards the new communications' media, such as the
Internet, as a gift of the Holy Spirit for
the evangelisation of the world. Catholic and Protestant Esperantists also quickly accepted these new means of
communication. By using the Internet for correspondence, and by doing so in Esperanto, they facilitate contacts
with other countries in two ways.
The editorial offices of "Espero Katolika" and "Dia Regno" have had
Internet connections since 1993. At
gatherings of Christian Esperantists many international friendships have been formed and these have
subsequently been further deepened by email correspondence. Such contacts are particularly frequent between
Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans and Italians.
In 1997 IKUE's local representative in Argentina, Daniel Cotarelo García,
established an e-mail forum for
Catholic Esperantists. It has enabled Catholics all over the world to share their views on religious issues and
events. In time, Christians of other denominations joined too, so that it has become a forum for ecumenical
dialogue. That was apparent towards the end of 2000 for example, when an Evangelical Christian asked forum
members for their opinions on the "Dominus Iesus" declaration by Cardinal Ratzinger, which led to a spirited
exchange of views in a fraternal atmosphere despite all the differences.
Between 1996 and 2000 several hundred web pages were created in Esperanto
with Christian content. Many
of them were the work of six Christian Esperantists from five countries. Attila Szép (Hungary) and Carlo
Sarandrea (Italy) composed IKUE's official website. Since 2000 it has used the easy-to-remember Internet
address www.ikue.org. In France, Philippe Cousson did the same for KELI, while the German priest Father
Bernhard Eichkorn put full information on the Internet about the Ecumenical Esperanto Congresses together
with a number of religious texts and the German-language magazine "Ecumenical Esperanto Forum". In the
U.S.A, Leland Bryant Ross, a Baptist lay preacher, is compiling a web hymnal with more than 350 Christian
Songs in Esperanto.
Another American, Stephen Kalb, is the author of the "Enciklopedio Kalblanda",
a comprehensive Internet
encyclopedia, regularly updated, with many illustrations and internal and external links. As a Catholic he has
included in his encyclopedia numerous articles on religions, Jesus, Christian denominations, saints, prayers,
feastdays etc. He explains the fact that, although he is a native English-speaker he composes websites mainly
in Esperanto, by referring to the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Mt 7,12) -
"I want others to write their pages in a language that is easy for me to understand. Esperanto is easier to learn
than any national language."
From www.ikue.org or another site, one can now find a considerable amount
of religious literature in Esperanto
on the Internet. Examples worth mentioning are a book by Piero Otaviano - "La Fundamentoj de Kristanismo"
("The Fundamentals of Christianity"), the booklet "Malgranda Ekumena Katekismo" ("Little Ecumenical
Catechism") by Heinz Schütte and above all, the entire Bible.
Esperanto not only enables fraternal dialogue between Christians from
all over the world, but also between
members of all the world religions. Many web sites in Esperanto - e.g. on Buddhism and Islam - make it easy to
find these contacts.
5.2 Church Services
Surveys carried out in Britain in 1968 and Germany in 1992 showed that
among members of Esperanto
organisations there were substantially more practising Christians than in the general population. According to
the 1992 survey of the members of the German Esperanto Association, 33.5 % belonged to the Lutheran
Church and 27 % were Catholics. That is slightly less than in the population as a whole; but on the other hand,
69.1 % and 87.9 % respectively practised their religion to the extent of "at least occasionally taking part in
religious gatherings (for example, church services )". These two figures are remarkably high, because
according to a 1987 survey of the general population in Germany (excluding the former East Germany), only 47
% of the Protestants and 73 % of the Catholics attend church at least occasionally.
Altogether, 49.3 % of the members of the German Esperanto Association
identified as practising Christians, so
naturally many of the participants at Esperanto events like to attend church services in the International
Language. At the World Esperanto Congresses ecumenical church services are always part of the programme,
even if the congress is held in country whose government does not favour Christianity (for example Beijing in
1986 and Havana in 1990).
For the same reasons, religious services in Esperanto are also held
at many smaller gatherings. The
organisers of these events are usually very willing to include church services in the programme, but it is not
always possible to find a pastor with the necessary fluency and time available to lead the service. At events for
young people in particular, some of those taking part solve this problem by organising a bilingual church service
in cooperation with the pastor of the nearest parish, with hymns in Esperanto and the homily read aloud in both
In several cities - especially in Poland, Italy, Germany and Britain
- religious services in Esperanto are a regular
event. In London they have been held every month since 1912. In Germany, Catholic and Lutheran clergy offer
religious services in Esperanto in Speyer Cathedral (a Catholic Mass, every second month since autumn
1991), in Stuttgart (an ecumenical church service, almost every month since 1995) and also occasionally in
Freiburg Cathedral (from November 1996). Since 1990, church services in Esperanto have also been held
during Germany's annual Catholic Weeks and Church Weeks (Katholikentag, Kirchentag). At the Catholic
Weeks in Dresden (1994), Mainz (1998) and Hamburg (2000), Archbishop Jakubinyi from Romania celebrated
Mass in Esperanto.
Church services in Esperanto such as those in Speyer or Stuttgart are
usually followed by a visit to a restaurant
or the local Esperanto club or by a group sightseeing tour of the city. It makes sense to offer church services to
visitors for several reasons: firstly, because they often attract other Esperantists who do not regularly practise
their faith; and secondly, because Christians from other countries who happen to be visiting the region are often
delighted that they can attend church services in a language they understand and can afterwards meet and get
to know German Christians. Furthermore, such services are in themselves a powerful symbol of the solidarity
with other Christians of all nationalities which continues even when no congress is being held.
5.3 Periodicals and books
Between ten and twenty Christian periodicals are regularly published
in Esperanto - if a number of very modest
newsletters are included. "Espero Katolika" is published in Rome. It includes news about the worldwide
Catholic Church, reports on papal activities and messages, articles on those who have been recently beatified
and canonised, and on the history and current events of the Catholic Esperanto movement. It is the oldest
continuously-published magazine in Esperanto - appearing bimonthly with 30-40 pages of abundant and varied
content of the highest standard.
The Protestant counterpart of "Espero Katolika" is the KELI periodical
"Dia regno". It too is published
bimonthly. Because KELI includes among its members Christians of many different denominations - mostly the
Reformed Churches, but also Orthodox and Catholics - its pages often feature lively ecumenical debates.
A member of IKUE or KELI may subscribe to the magazine of the other
Association for half price. This
arrangement can help Christians to view current events from a new perspective. When Pope John Paul
canonised John Sarkander in 1995, Catholic Esperanto magazines joyfully proclaimed the news: "Our Saint
John Sarkander. Our model of faithfulness and courage." So Catholics were surprised to read an article in "Dia
Regno" with the grim heading: "A thorn in the ecumenical journey". The article quoted Pavel Smetana,
President of the Czech Ecumenical Council, as saying that John Sarkander "had neither sympathy nor Christian
love for believers of other religions, whom he opposed".
Besides the IKUE and KELI magazines, the national branches of the two
associations also publish many
newsletters, for instance "Franca Katolika Esperantisto", "La Ponteto" (the newsletter of KELI's members in
France), "Kristana Alvoko" (British KELI members), and "Frateco" (Polish Catholics). Several magazines
published mainly in national languages also deserve mention, such as "Katolika Sento" (Italy), "Kristliga
Esperantoförbundets Medlemsblad" (Sweden) and "Ökumenisches Esperanto-Forum" (Germany).
"Dio Benu" is the largest of the national associations' magazines, its
abundant content reflecting the high level
of activity of IKUE's affiliate in the Czech Republic. From its pages it is clear that this association has very good
relations with bishops and cardinals - and furthermore that many young people are active members.
Besides numerous small newsletters, about 200 periodicals are regularly
published in Esperanto. About 10
percent of them are primarily devoted to religious topics, which may also be true for the approximately 40,000
books and booklets in Esperanto which have been published to date. In addition to the Holy Bible, both the
Koran and the Bhagavad-Gita have appeared in Esperanto translations.
Many biographies of the saints have also been published in Esperanto
(Francis, Dominic, Edith Stein), and
also several papal encyclicals: John XXIII's 'Pacem in Terris', Paul VI's 'Ecclesiam Suam' and 'Populorum
Progressio') and John Paul II's 'Familiaris Consortio' and 'Laborem exercens'. In 1995 IKUE produced a video
documentary in Esperanto - "La Mortotuko - signo de nia epoko" ("The Shroud - a sign for our time").
Among the scores of Christian prayer and hymn books in Esperanto, the
most impressive and useful is
"ADORU", a book of ecumenical church services published in June 2001 in Germany. Its 1,472 pages present
prayers and hymns translated from a wide range of languages as well as some original compositions. While
Churches in different countries still publish their Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox hymn books separately,
"ADORU" is the result of long and intensive ecumenical cooperation between Christian Esperantists from
different countries. It draws on the rich traditions of liturgy and worship of all Christian denominations.
5.4 Vatican Radio
In Europe radio broadcasts in Esperanto can be heard on medium- and
shortwave from seven countries:
Poland and China (daily), Italy, Cuba, Lithuania, Austria - and the Vatican. Since January 1997 Vatican Radio
has made regular broadcasts in Esperanto: at first once a week, then from 1981 twice weekly, and since
October 1998 three times a week. Every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday evening its broadcast begins with
the Esperanto phrase: "Estu lauxdata Jesuo Kristo" ("Praised be Jesus Christ"). Vatican Radio's Esperanto
broadcasts include news about current events in the Church and the world, programmes about recent papal
documents and statements and occasional reports on the activities of Catholic Esperantists.
The broadcasts can also be heard via the Internet and - outside Europe
- by satellite. They attract considerable
interest, even in countries where Vatican Radio's national language broadcasts are hardly noticed. Every year
its Esperanto section receives about a thousand letters from listeners around the world, quite a high figure
considering that the total broadcast time is only about 30 minutes a week.
5.5 Charitable activities
In common with almost all Christian organisations, IKUE and KELI are
also involved in charitable work.
Examples of aid projects initiated by previous or current committee members of IKUE and KELI in recent years
include Dr József Kondor's aid to lepers, Jacques Tuinder's "Agado E3" project to assist the blind, Hansjörg
Kindler's help for the handicapped and the Espero Cooperative in Zaire.
Brief descriptions follow of a couple of these projects.
In 1993, "Kroata Milita Noktlibro" ("Croatian War Nightbook") was published.
The author, Spomenka timec,
describes how her country was inundated by hatred, violence and death; and she provides a voice for those
who lost their closest relatives, but even so appeal for reconciliation. Hansjörg Kindler, a German Old Catholic
priest, arranged to have this book translated into German. The income from sales of the book - over EUR
10,000 in a few short months - was used to support handicapped children in Croatia.
The Espero Cooperative functions in a totally different part of the
world. It was founded in 1993 in Bukavu, a
town in south-eastern Zaire. IKUE gave the cooperative over $40,000 - partly in the form of a loan and partly as
a grant - and African Catholics used the money to construct a brickmaking factory. Production began in 1994,
and shortly afterwards the manager of the cooperative, Yogelolo Lutombo, was happy to report in Espero
Katolika: "Your help has created 31 jobs which support 31 families who had previously experienced much
In all of these projects Esperanto fulfils a double role: on the one
hand, Esperanto magazines publish reports on
them and appeals for donations; at the same time Esperanto facilitates the international contacts these
Esperanto offers those who speak it numerous opportunities to get acquainted
and make friends with people
from other countries and cultures. Christian Esperantists feel that they share a double bond, a shared language
and shared beliefs. This means that when they meet they know they know they already have a great deal in
common and this encourages deep friendships between them.
There are numerous gatherings of Christian Esperantists - pilgrimages
and retreats in Poland, weekend
get-togethers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Lithuania, meetings of Italian Catholics and
Swedish Protestants. The biggest, and by far the most international, are the congresses organised by IKUE
and KELI. Nearly every summer one of these events takes place, usually with the cooperation of both
associations. Up to three hundred Christians, from around twenty countries and widely differing backgrounds
and denominations, gather for a week to pray, sing, chat and discuss their common interests. The programme
usually includes daily religious services and addresses on the congress topic. There are a number of meetings
but also plenty of entertainment in the form of excursions, concerts, full-length and one-act plays by the young
people and folk dances.
It may well be that the ecumenical congresses organised by IKUE and
KELI are of more benefit to ecumenism
than any number of theological dissertations, treatises or declarations by Church officials. In the opinion of
Gerrit Berveling, a Dutch Esperantist and Premonstratensian priest,
lives and blooms at the grassroots level, in lively gatherings of people
Churches, denominations, and even religions. True ecumenism continues to bloom in serious group
discussions (free of arguments, but always involving respectful debate in search of mutual
understanding). True ecumenism lives and blooms in joint church services at which the worshippers
let themselves be inspired and nourished by God himself, the source of all that is, who can neither
be captured nor defined. Here, we recognise each other as people who belong to different
traditions but who are all joined in the same search for God himself. Our one and only God.
For the most part, these words reflect the views of many of the members
of KELI, but IKUE members also
agree with them. To some who are active in IKUE however, it would be enough to have occasional ecumenical
events, while others want to have a separate congress for IKUE at least every second or third year. From time
to time therefore IKUE and KELI make their own separate arrangements.
A major one was IKUE's 50th congress in the summer of 1997 in Rome and
Rimini. Three hundred Catholics
from about 24 countries took part in it. The congress began with Mass in Esperanto concelebrated by 17 clergy
lead by Bishop Giovanni Locatelli at the main altar of Saint Peter's Basilica. Other highlights were the greeting
by Pope John Paul in Esperanto previously mentioned and on the same day - the 3rd of September 1997 - an
audience the congress participants were granted with the Italian President, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro. After meeting
a number of Esperanto-speaking clergy belonging to different rites, Scalfaro noted that "Esperanto is also
useful for ecumenical dialogue" and thanked the IKUE members for their work for the cause of brotherhood and
"understanding among peoples".
5.7 Ecumenical Esperanto camps for young people
In summer 1996, twenty five young Christians from seven countries attended
the 11th Ecumenical Esperanto
Congress in Szombathely (Hungary). It was decided to hold an annual Ecumenical Esperanto Youth Camp
(Junulara Ekumena Esperanto-Tendaro - JET). The first such camp was held from the 11th to the 18th of August
1998 in Unterkirnach in Germany's Black Forest. About 60 youngsters from Germany, Ghana and seven
Eastern European countries came to discuss "reconciliation" and paths to a peaceful future for mankind; they
sang and prayed in Esperanto and explored one of the most beautiful regions of Germany on hiking and cycling
However it was decided not to organise a separate camp for the following
year, partly because of the quite
heavy organisational workload, but also because the young people wanted to experience effortless
communication in a locality where language barriers between young Christians from all over the world are
particularly noticeable. So the second JET was instead held at Taizé in south-eastern France, where every
summer the community founded by Brother Roger hosts tens of thousands of youth from every continent, to lead
them to the source of faith.
As a result, from the 9th to the 16th of August 1998 about 50 young
Esperantists, along with about 6,000 young
people from all over the world, met at this village which has become famous among Christians as a place to
meet and meditate. The organisers of the meetings for young people in Taizé willingly allowed the use of
Esperanto in the small group discussions; but they initially caused difficulties because they insisted that the
Esperantists, like everyone else, must be strictly separated into groups of young people up to the age of 29
years, adults, and families. In addition, from the day they arrived the Esperanto-speakers had to separate
according to nationality. Consequently a number of Esperantists were accommodated with young people
whose conversation for the whole week was limited to the words "România" or "Portuguęs".
This highlighted the successful use of Esperanto in the group discussions.
With the help of the letter "An
Unexpected Joy" by Brother Roger in Esperanto translation, the Bible and the list of daily community chores,
young people from eight countries discussed religious issues and problems in their personal lives. These
discussions, combined with the enchanting church and the famous Taizé chants, made this JET an
unforgettable and enriching experience for everyone who took part. Many returned two years later in August
2000 to meet once again at Taizé during the 4th JET.
In summer 1999 the 3rd JET was held during the Ecumenical Esperanto
Congress in Gliwice (Poland), but with
its own programme. More than 80 young people attended, making it the biggest JET so far.
Besides these Ecumenical Esperanto Camps for young people, the author
was most impressed by the
Catholic Esperanto Camps, described in the next chapter.
5.8 Catholic Esperanto Camps
"Awake, all you sleepers, the birdsong is calling you" ... At the Catholic
Esperanto Camp in Sebranice the new
day begins every morning at 7am with singing accompanied by a guitar. Half an hour later Mass is celebrated
in Esperanto; only then is breakfast served. At 8:30 everyone assembles for "Morning Orders" when the day's
programme is announced and IKUE's flag is raised, while the campers sing:
"Supren flugu niaj flagoj, kolektigxu la fratar'.
Dio benu Esperanton, sonas kanto en tendar'."
("High above our banners fly, as our comrades gather round.
God bless Esperanto, is the song that here resounds")
First there are Esperanto classes for at least four different levels
of language ability. In the conversation
classes, the participants discuss religious and secular topics in Esperanto. The participants introduce
themselves and tell how they were led to faith in God; for example, one may talk about the saint whose name
they were given at baptism or about the evangelisation of various countries. Czech participants talk about
religious education in the Communist era; others compare the Christian festivals in the various countries. Other
topics, such as the environment, enable them to make comparisons between different countries, for instance in
relation to recycling.
In the afternoons, some groups practise hymns in Esperanto; others play
volleyball or go to the swimming pool
located right by the campground. Sometimes there is a guest speaker, for example a priest may talk to them
about prayer or marriage; this topic particularly inspires lots of questions from the youngsters.
In the evening, the flag is lowered while the campers sing:
Sun' subiras horizonton, angxeluso vokas jam.
Turnu penson al cxielo, zorgas pri ni Dia am'.
(The sun sets slowly in the west, to the sound of angelus.
As our thoughts are turned to heaven, for we know that God loves us.)
People chat among themselves, play games and sing around the campfire.
At 10pm the night-time silence begins. As night descends, the campers
form a big circle, cross their arms, take
one another by the hand and sing "Steletoj" ("Little Stars"), a translation of a Czech folksong:
Steloj, adiaux nun, dormas mi jam.
Kore mi petas vin, tre mi petegas vin,
zorgu pri la patrin', pri mia am'.
(Sleep is descending, farewell stars above.
Grant what I ask of you, hear what I beg of you,
Care for my mother, and those whom I love.)
The campers exchange handshakes and smiles and finally wish each other
good night and go to bed. A few
youngsters continue talking by candlelight. But soon, they too fall silent.
Westerners visiting such a camp for the first time are always taken
aback at first - or maybe even shocked - by
the strict routine and the extremely basic living conditions, unless they are already familiar with scout camps. In
time however they get used to it and at the very least begin to appreciate the advantages of the early morning
start. The lack of electric light is another good reason to start the day early; nor as a rule are there any luxuries
at the camp. Don't even think about hot running water! The toilets - which are not the flushing kind - are in the
forest. It is very moving to see how in such basic, almost primitive, conditions, young people from various
countries are able to have a good time and spend a week in a warm and friendly environment.
Only a few months after the downfall of the Communist regime, IKUE's
Czech association was re-established. In
1991 it once again organised a Catholic Esperanto Camp, the tenth KET after an enforced break of 14 years.
At first, not many young people came; most of them knew only a little Esperanto and spoke mainly Czech while
in camp. In the years that followed, several of them not only greatly improved their knowledge of the language,
they also brought along friends from their school or parish; others read about the camp in Catholic magazines
or were told about it while enrolled in a special correspondence course for Catholics. Since the thirteenth KET
in 1994, the core group has consisted of several friendly young Catholics who speak fluent Esperanto. The
chaplains are Father Savio Ricíca from the Czech Republic and Father Lajos Kobor from Hungary. Bishop
Karel Otcenáek of Hradec Králové often visits the camp to show his support for the activities of the Catholic
Esperantists. In 2000, auxiliary bishop Josef Hrdlicka from Olomouc celebrated Mass in Esperanto for the
The camp can have a positive influence on the outlook of the young people
who come to it. It was at the KET
that Beata, a nineteen-year-old Polish girl, got to know a German for the first time in her life. She says that it
changed her attitude towards her western neighbours. Up till then, she had learned about Germans mainly from
watching war movies in which they were portrayed as cold and cruel.
The road from Sebranice to Litomyl passes a field with a group of antenna
masts. All the campers know that
they were built by the Communist regime to jam Western radio broadcasts. "In my family we always listened to
Radio Free Europe", says Anika from Slovakia, "even if it was often hard to pick up. We never lost hope that
one day everything would be different." She was raised in a Christian family. "My parents were determined that I
should attend religious education classes. Because of that my father, who was a teacher, and my mother, who
was a kindergarten worker, had to give up their professions. In my school reports there was always a note:
"Attends religion classes". We all knew this would make it virtually impossible for me to attend university." For
Anika, Esperanto is now "a means of fulfilling God's loving plan".
Marcela (18) from Bratislava comes from a totally different background.
"My parents are atheists. I started to
get interested in religion only two years ago, because the materialistic attitude which I was taught didn't satisfy
me. Now I am here to learn something about the Catholic Church. My parents were furious that I came to this
camp." Six months after her visit to Sebranice, Marcela was baptised.
An older camper, Ladislav Mlejnek, tells how he too comes from a family
of atheists. Discovering the ideals of
Ludwig Zamenhof was "the first step on my journey to the Church". At 22, he went to a meeting of an Esperanto
club where another young member invited him to come to Sunday worship. "I went willingly and with eyes and
ears wide open I experienced something I had never known before. These people respected and loved one
another, there was a family atmosphere, some people prayed aloud, praising God in speech and song."
Given a degree of talent for languages, it is possible to make yourself
understood in Esperanto after just a few
months of regular study. However the beginner faces a few problems. Jindra (17) learned the elements of
Esperanto by doing a correspondence course just a few months before going to the camp. She recalls:
Until I went
on the camp I thought that Esperanto was a dead language. I couldn't see
how it could
be a means of international understanding. I heard Esperanto spoken for the first time by my friends
Kalný and Mlejnek at the main railway station in Prague on the way to Sebranice. At first I didn't
understand what they were talking about, but later I was able to pick up a word here and there and
eventually I actually understood them. Great, I told myself, I understand Esperanto. But then I struck
another problem: how to answer questions in Esperanto! Part of my brain clicked into action and
solved the problem: do a quick mental translation from Czech to Esperanto and from Esperanto to
Czech. Eventually, I got a result that way every time and later on the lessons in Esperanto at the
camp helped me improve my fluency, especially the conversation. I'm pleased to say that thanks to
the time I spent on study and the all-Esperanto environment, I can even think in Esperanto.
At school, Pavel (28) only learned Russian and afterwards he quickly
forgot it. He tried teaching himself English
but without much success. His parish priest encouraged him to learn Esperanto. Even that took a while to
master, but finally, by his third KET, he could speak it fluently. Andrea (18) got there much more quickly: after six
months' study she now speaks Esperanto better than German which she learned at school for four years.
Through a single easily-learned second language people are brought together
by the shortest route. At
Sebranice friendships are formed, many of them life-long. Young Czechs and Slovaks often see each other
again only a few months after the KET at weekend events. Participants from other countries often have to wait
until the following summer, if they don't happen to meet beforehand at events organised by the wider Esperanto
It is precisely because Christian Esperantists make up only a relatively
small minority that they form a worldwide
community in which each one has many acquaintances and friends. The generally achieve understanding
without great difficulty. People find a kind of home within the Christian Esperanto movement. Everyone who
remains loyal to that community will meet many old friends again at camps and congresses in the future. This
practical use for the language probably guarantees the Christian Esperanto movement 's continued existence.
Only the widespread adoption of Esperanto could substantially alter
this situation. It would weaken the present
unity among members of this minority, but at the same time it would open a new world of international contacts
to countless numbers of people. We now consider the arguments for and against this development.
6 Arguments for and against Esperanto
6.1 Language in the Church
During the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) heated discussion arose
about Latin. Some contributions
were positive. Cardinal James McIntyre of Los Angeles said:
Latin is a medium
well suited to demonstrate the universality of the Church... it can be
seen to be an
effective means of communication, rising above nationalism and any political pressure. It is still both
a useful and a universal language.
Other priests, bishops and Cardinals took a more critical view of the
long-term use of Latin. Bishop Francis
Simons of Indore, India declared:
It is untrue
to say that the clergy understand Latin perfectly. It often happens, even
audiences, that those who do not speak Italian or French have to have interpeters and many
bishops now taking part in the Council are using Latin for the first time. The Council, like any large
international conference, could have arranged simultaneous translation into the most well-known
modern languages. For many years now correspondence with the Roman Curia has, very properly,
been in modern languages, which proves that Latin is not essential. Most of the clergy read the most
important Church documents and some of the Fathers of the Church entirely in their own languages.
Many theological works are published in modern languages.
Mons. J. Maalouf from Baalbek in Lebanon complained that many of those
taking part in the discussion did not
understand Latin well enough and therefore it would be wrong to rush through the approval of any important
document. He himself spoke French, excusing himself for not having a good command of Latin, but confident
that if he were to speak in Arabic most of his hearers would understand nothing.
Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston (1895-1970) also regretted the language barrier:
I'll never forget
this Council! I had no idea what anyone was talking about because I had
listened to speeches in Latin. It was all Greek to me! I don't know how many more of those taking
part were in the same boat as I was. I was sitting between two elderly, excellent, Italian Cardinals.
They didn't know any English, nor I any Italian.
This was the council that permitted the use of the mother-tongue instead
of Latin in the Catholic liturgy. Though
that permission was not meant to abolish the use of Latin in the Church, this is what happened.
Some theologians remind that Latin has not always been the official language of the Catholic Church:
Deep and impassioned
emotions were - and for some still are - bound up with the use of Latin
mass, the valid ones mostly having to do with aesthetics. Some Latin diehards also cite tradition,
but their ground is not strongly tenable. As the famed Father H.A. Reinhold would insistently remind,
Latin was not the language of the first mass, the Last Supper; Hebrew and Aramaic were. Similarly,
Latin was not the language of the masses of Saint Paul; Greek was. Latin was not even the
language of the mass of the early Roman Church; for a couple of hundred years Greek was. Latin
was actually a third-century innovation to the mass (...).
Nevertheless, the decision of the council was not obviously necessary;
we have the example of the Russian
Orthodox Church, which still uses Early Slavonic. Indeed, there are now bishops and cardinals who are
disappointed at the results of their decision.
Cardinal Ratzinger at the end of 1999 called on the bishops to 'recover
the Latin Mass'. In his view the 'wild
creativity' that followed Vatican II 'destroyed the mystery of the Sacred'. The old Latin liturgy, on the contrary, 'is
not dangerous traditionalism, but a desire to share in Divinity.'
The followers of the schismatic bishop Marcel Lefebvre express their
views more strongly than does Ratzinger;
they insist that the mother tongue is not appropriate to the mysterious actuality of the Mass. According to them,
the use of the vernacular makes the liturgy and the eucharist seem more comprehensible than they truly are.
In February 2002, Pope John Paul II sent a message to a conference being
held at the Salesian University in
Rome, where he emphasized that Latin remains the official language of the Catholic Church, and expressed his
desire that "the love of that language would grow ever strong among candidates for the priesthood." He pointed
out that the use of Latin "is an indispensable condition for a proper relationship between modernity and
antiquity, for dialogue among different cultures, and for reaffirming the identity of the Catholic priesthood."
The Brotherhood of Peter, tradition-minded Catholic priests, used arguments
from the writings of the German
Cardinal Frings (1887-1978) to support the use of a single language and liturgy in the Church. The following is
an extract from their Homepage:
I returned from my travels to Japan and Korea, I was asked what had most
impressed me. I had to reply: the vastness and catholicity of our Holy Church. Because everywhere I
found the same faith and the same fidelity to the representative of Christ, the Pope in Rome. And
when in Hiroshima and Seoul I celebrated a Pontifical Mass, or when in the chapel of the nuncio in
Tokio I said Mass and raised to the Diaconate American and European theologians, everywhere I
followed the same ritual, the same words as at home in Cologne.
Joseph Cardinal Frings, 05. 07.1957
Things have changed. At least a German Cardinal no longer uses the same
language in Seoul as in Cologne.
The Latin language has shown itself to be too difficult to serve effectively the unity of the Church. According to
an article in 'The Guardian' on the 16.10.1999, the Vatican's chief latinist, Abbot Carlo Egger stated:
Latin now stands
very little chance of survival in the Catholic Church. The simple truth
is that many,
too many, bishops no longer know how to speak it.
At a meeting of 155 cardinals in Rome, 21-24 May 2001, Cardinal Jorge
Maria Mejia from Argentina began his
address in Latin, thereby causing confusion especially among the interpreters. When he continued his speech
in Spanish, the audience applauded. "Don't be frightened", he said, "I do this only so that Latin may have at
least a symbolic presence in this hall."
In this "extraordinary consistory", the Latvian Cardinal Janis Pujats
was the only one who delivered his speech
entirely in Latin. Cardinal Meissner from Cologne reported that afterwards a bishop asked him whether the
language was Latvian.
The Catholic Church is now multilingual. It mostly uses the six most
widely-spoken vernaculars of Catholics -
Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Italian and German. In these languages one can read the website
www.vatican.va. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano is published weekly in these six languages;
there is also a monthly edition in Polish.
Vatican Radio broadcasts its programmes in 47 languages, including Esperanto,
but not in Latin. And in even
more languages - 60 of them - Pope John Paul II gives his Easter and Christmas greetings.
Bishops and Cardinals of the whole world manage to understand each other,
sometimes with the help of
interpreters, sometimes by knowledge of each other's national languages. But this does not always work
perfectly. Here is a quote concerning the German bishop Hermann Josef Spital, in 1999:
The Bishop of
Trier is definitely not fluent in Italian, French, English, Polish or Spanish.
languages are spoken in the Vatican. Spital regularly attends the meetings of the Pontificium
Consilium de Communicationibus Socialibus. This is the Papal Committee on Communication.
Spital, as German bishop for mass Communications, is a member of this Vatican Committee with
voting rights. But in the Vatican Spital depends on native speakers of German, and on the kindness
of the men and women in charge of communications who are able to speak German with the visitor
from Trier. During meetings someone interprets. But when informal discussions become heated,
Spital is a linguistic outsider. Definitely not an agreeable experience.
The ordinary faithful are similarly kept apart by barriers of language,
as is shown in this excerpt from the
newspaper "Tag des Herrn" 14/1997. The paper interviewed Alfred Hoffmann, director of the office of the
diocese of Görlitz, a German town beside the Polish border.
Ever since the diocese was founded there has been continued attention to
the role of
Görlitz as a bridge between German and Polish Catholics. But so far it seems that not a single
parish has had actual contacts with Poland. Do you see any chance of a change?
I see it, the great difficulty is language rather than any mutual distrust.
neighbours are close to my heart, but I always see this problem which frustrates real exchange.
Sometimes Christians make light of language barrier. The homepage of
Missioners of Steyl [Divine Word
Missionaries] is a good example:
the Missioners of Steyl in 62 countries, who have to struggle with all
difficulties, except one: they never suffer difficulties in being understood, whether in terms of
language, race, or culture. Their mother-tongue is the name of their Order - "Word of God."
Regardless of language, this is the means by which they think, act, dream, that they bring
understanding and peace.
In the youth gatherings of the Taizé community international
understanding is arrived at, sometimes well,
sometimes not so well, sometimes not at all. A major feature of the summer gatherings is the daily large-group
Bible study session. The session for adults - people over 29 - is usually in French translated into English, or
vice-versa, depending on the language in which the brother lecturing is most at home. But only about 10% of
those present are native speakers of one or other of those languages and it does not seem likely that more than
another 10% can follow a theological discussion in either one of them. The solution is to try to find among those
present honorary translators for eight or ten other languages. The rest then sit in front of them and hear each
sentence first in French or English and then in their own language.
The organizers in Taizé try to keep the smaller discussion groups
international, expecting the members to
understand each other with the help of English or some other language while anyone who can helps with
translation. In the summer of the year 2000 three esperantists from Germany and Poland who were taking part
in the Young Esperanto Ecumenical Camp found themselves in a group of that kind along with non-esperantists
from Russia, Germany, Italy and Spain. With the help of English everyone could more or less say who they were,
but when it came to discussion of the set topic - the Book of Jonah - or to theological questions such as "What
is God?" most of them were quite at a loss.
The translation-power of some of the members was called on to solve
the problem. It was found that the only
way to enable a Spanish woman to understand a Russian was the following: Natasha from Russia spoke
Russian, Stanislaw from Poland translated what she said into Esperanto, Reinhard from Germany translated
from Esperanto into English and finally José from Spain translated into Spanish so that Carmen could
understand. This indirect communication has serious disadvantages. It requires extra time, it risks inaccuracy
or even error and, perhaps the most serious objection, it puts distance between people. On the other hand, it
should be remembered that when speaking in a foreign language one is able to say only as much as one's
knowledge of the language permits, and quite often this is insufficient to provide an interesting conversation.
Other presentations and workshops in Taizé demonstrate the usefulness
and also the shortcomings of the
English language. When Filipinos or South Africans presented themselves in English, certainly everyone was
pleased to come to know something about these peoples even though not everyone understood every word.
But it was definitely less useful for some other working groups in which language knowledge was essential. For
example, the film "The Risen Christ" was shown to those interested. This consisted mainly of an interview with
the theologian Pére Gustave Martelet, in both English and French. Afterwards the two discussion groups were
brought together for a bi-lingual discussion. Anyone who expected a lively discussion in English was mistaken.
It was a notably quiet gathering, mostly speaking French, since it seemed that there were more native speakers
of French than of English. Those who had different native languages remained silent. Not many people are both
willing and able to discuss the Resurrection of Christ in a foreign language.
Every new year the Taizé Community also organises an international
Youth Congress in which more than
50,000 take part. In the new year 1999/2000 this took place in Warsaw. The Community afterwards published a
brochure in German reporting the impressions of German participants. In 50 brief reports 10 mention the
language barriers- principally because so often not even the most basic conversation was possible.
Some participants, like "Stephanie from Regensburg" however saw the
situation more idealistically. "Our host
family spoke neither German nor English, but still we managed to understand one another very well, and they
constantly found ways to make us happy."
Others were disillusioned. Here is a comment by "Gregor from Frankfurt."
I was looking
forward with curiosity to exchanges with people from central and eastern
During the meetings I recognised that language barriers still exist. The people speaking Slavic
languages often have to simply stay together. Hardly any western Europeans speak a Slavic
language. The few Polish or Russian words are not enough for real conversation with other
participants or with the host families. I regret this.
Nowadays it is clear that almost all people agree that it would be well
to do away with these language barriers.
But only a few recognise that there is a proven, practical solution: the use of a neutral international language.
6.2 The language problem in the European Union
On the 8th of December 2000 the Council of the European Union accepted
the "Charter of Fundamental Rights"
according to which the European Union "is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity,
freedom, equality and solidarity". The Union "shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity" (Article 22).
Further, "every person may write to the institutions of the Union in one of the languages of the Treaties and must
have an answer in the same language" (Article 41 No. 4).
This charter confirms the principles which the European Union (or its
predecessors) have endeavoured to follow
from the beginning. After the European Economic Community was founded in 1957, its Ministerial Council
decided by a decree of 15.04.1958, that "The official languages and the working languages of the institutions of
the Community shall be Dutch, French, German and Italian." This decree was brought up to date after the
accession of other states, so that after Finland and Sweden acceded in 1995, the working languages of the
Union increased to 11. (By the Treaty of Amsterdam of 02.10.1997 Finnish and Swedish were added to the
"languages of the Treaty" referred to in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.)
By now there can no longer be any doubt that the European Union will
be progressively enlarged. The booklet
"Europe speaks 100 languages" lists 87 European languages. Some are small, even tiny, for example Votish
with about 10 speakers, and Livish and Ingrish with about 100 each. Consequently their speakers would be
delighted if the EU were to do something to support the use of them in their regions - if that is at all possible - in
order to prevent their complete disappearance. But there are also many languages in Middle and Eastern
Europe whose speakers can confidently insist that after accession to the EU their language should have the
same rights as Danish, Greek, etc.
And indeed the EU has already foreseen an increase in the number of
working languages. In an article in the
German newspaper "Die Welt" of 15.03.2001, the Vice President of the European Parliament, Ingo Friedrich,
Language is the
direct expression of one's own identity and cannot submit to economic
considerations. It is therefore not realistic to abandon the present system in which every document
of the EU is translated and printed in each language. This system will continue also in a 27-member
He added, however, that in the matter of interpretation during meetings, reform can be envisaged.
The European Commissioner, Michel Barnier, expressed a similar opinion
when, on the 5th of June 2000 he
answered citizens' questions about enlargement via the Internet. Eight of these questions were concerned with
the language problem:
do you think the language issue should be organised in a Union of up to
principle of language equality in the Union will be very important, even
enlargement. This is about Europe's cultural diversity. As for the practical organisation, we will find a
way of solving it.
But in reality the principle of language equality is frequently bypassed,
usually for practical reasons. A few
Surfing the web pages of of the European Union
at www.europa.eu.int, one finds that not every document
is posted in each of the 11 official languages. Many are available only in English, or in English and
French, or sometimes in a few other languages. And - though this seems paradoxical - even the words
quoted above by Michel Barnier - "the principle of language equality in the Union is very important" - seem
to be on the website only in English.
In the past, German firms have often complained
that there were long delays before the EU published
requests for tenders in German, thus putting them at a disadvantage.
Informal meetings of EU bodies commonly take
place without interpretation into all the official languages.
(This practice caused some scandal when, in July 1999 under the Finnish Presidency, only Finnish,
English and French were offered during a meeting of Ministers. As a protest, German and Austrian
Ministers boycotted the meeting.)
In the European Young Scientist competition,
those taking part may write their entries in any of the official
languages, but the single-page resumé must be in English, and competitors are informed that the
working-language of the jury is English.
When a firm requests a subsidy from the EU
for something like a research project, they must write at least
part of the request - for instance, a technical summary - in English.
During an information meeting on scholarships
in the EU held in Wiesbaden in October 1995, those
present were told: "In theory you may write your request in any of the official languages. However, we ask
you not to do so, but to write in English, because we must translate everything, and we do not have the
resources." Three weeks before the closing date, the German Information Centre posted out the forms in
English with the note: "It is not yet possible to know when they will be available in German". The forms
stated that the project summary should "preferably be in English".
The European Commission has proposed on 5 July
2000 the creation of a Community Patent. The main
aim was to reduce the cost of patenting an invention in Europe. The Commission noted:
concerning translations of the patent are a particularly important aspect
of the cost of the Community patent (...). The cost of translating the patent into all the official
languages of the Community would entail a risk of the entire Community patent project foundering,
placing as it would too heavy a burden on inventors, above all small and medium-sized enterprises.
Such a burden would discourage them from using the Community patent and give them an incentive
to seek protection only in certain European countries. With the enlargement of the Union,
compulsory translation into all the official languages would have even more negative effects in terms
To remedy this
problem, the proposed Regulation provides that the Community patent, once
has been granted in one of the procedural languages of the Office and published in that language,
with a translation of the claims into the two other procedural languages, will be valid without any
other translation. (...) The proposed system is regarded as appropriate, primarily because the
universal language in the field of patents is, in reality, English.
This last example in particular shows that, contrary to Ingo Friedrich's
requirement for translation into all
languages, the European Union is inclined to put the principles of economising and thrift ahead of the ideals of
equal rights and cultural diversity. It should be noted that the requirement that patent documents be translated
into other national languages would tend to further the development of scientific terminology in these languages,
and not just in English.
The way proposed by the European Patents Office may be a realistic solution
for the general language problem
in Europe. The question remains, is this solution desirable?
Another solution, which would respect the equal rights of national languages,
would be the use of Esperanto in
international communication. The enlargement of the European Union has from time to time prompted citizens -
not only speakers of Esperanto - to propose this solution to EU officials. This also occurred during the
above-mentioned Internet discussion with Michel Barnier:
(Josette Ducloyer): How do you intend to solve the language problem when
European Union enlarges ? Is it not time to create a Europe for ordinary people and start teaching
an international language for communication in all the EU's elementary schools, one that is neutral,
easy and accessible to everybody, such as Esperanto?
Barnier: As I said earlier, our aim is to bring Europe closer to the citizen and I doubt that the use of a dead language would be a positive step in that direction.
It is depressing to see that a European Commissioner does not know -
or does not wish to know - that
Esperanto long ago became a living language which is already helping citizens of Europe to draw closer
together and to understand one another.
Some politicians are afraid that Esperanto aims to do away with national
languages. In 1987 the Speaker of the
German Parliament, Philipp Jenninger, opposed Esperanto with the words: "I prefer a field of flowers to plain
greensward". Better known - though he used Esperanto merely as a metaphor - is the comment by Helmut Kohl
in 1995 (three years later he was named an Honored Citizen of Europe): "We do not want an
Esperanto-Europe, but a Europe in which each one retains his own identity".
Nevertheless, there are members of the European Parliament who think
that Esperanto is useful. Germain
Pirlot, a Belgian Esperantist, has sought the opinions of many MEPs. In 1999 he reported that by then more
than 20% of the 626 members of the European Parliament "believe that Esperanto could in one way or another
help to solve the language problems of the Parliament." (Translator's note: In both the present and the previous
EU Parliament, a notably higher proportion of Irish MEPs agreed with Pirlot's statement than did those from
other member-states. They are all native speakers of English.)
In 1995 three MEPs from different political blocs - Marianne Thyssen
(Christian Democrat), Eryl McNally (Social
Democrat) and Marie-Paule Kestelijn-Sierens (Liberal ) - put a written question to the European Commission
about its opinion of Esperanto. Commissioner Edith Cresson gave a nearly identical reply to each question.
WRITTEN QUESTION E-647/95
by Eryl McNally (PSE) to the Commission (9 March 1995)
Subject: Use of Esperanto
Has the Commission
considered the possibility of Esperanto being taught in all schools, alongside
other languages and being used in a wider context within the European Community as a whole?
by Mrs Cresson on behalf of the Commission (23 March 1995), published in
Official Journal C 145, 12/06/1995 (p. 54)
with Article 126 of the EC Treaty, the Member States are responsible for
of teaching and the organization of education systems, including the question of languages.
It is therefore
primarily up to the Member States to decide which languages are to be taught
their respective education systems. Community action in this field is limited to developing the
learning and spreading of the "languages of the Member States".
linguistic diversity is one of Europe's most valuable assets. The Commission
considerable importance to promoting multilingualism. It has done a great deal of work in this
direction under the Lingua Programme, which was designed to promote the teaching and learning
of languages, and will continue with this approach under the Socrates Programme, which takes over
and extends the activities of the Lingua Programme.
is of the opinion that the use of a neutral language might lead to a loss
and identity. A neutral language could not possess all the cultural and historic richness of natural
languages. The Commission does not intend to take any action to promote the teaching of
Leaving aside the variety and heroism of its own hundred-year history,
not only in European prison camps but
on other continents, Esperanto's claim to be a cultural language in its own right, can be demonstrated not only
by thousands of books, periodicals, videos, cassettes and CDs, but most significantly by its everyday use all
over the world. When the Commission, including Ms. Cresson, was dismissed in March 1999, Viviane Reding
replaced her and looks more positively on Esperanto. On the 1st of December 1996 Ms. Reding wrote to
Germain Pirlot: "Congratulations on your important work for Esperanto! Multilingualism is essential for Europe.
The inclusion of Esperanto in this learning of several languages could turn out in the long term to be well
According to the Official Journal, C 303 E, 24/10/2000, the Commission
has asked the Joint Interpretation
Service to set up a working party to examine Neighbour and Relais, projects that deal with the use of Esperanto
as an intermediate language in interpretation.
6.3 Esperanto and Cultural Diversity
Mahatma Ghandi regarded the English language as an instrument of imperialism
and enslavement. During the
Heidelberg Congress in 1992 on 'Education in Europe', the philologist Prof. Otto Back warned that "the English
language is the Trojan Horse of the United States in Europe." It enables Coca-Cola culture and "the American
way of life" to invade the lives of other peoples. Many remain unaware of what is happening to them. Young
people, who are naturally open to novelty, commonly see no harm in it. But others insist that the English
language can endanger cultural diversity; they are concerned that 'globalization' should not mean simply
Americanization of the entire globe.
Cultural researchers point out that 'Americanization' is not simply
cultural imperialism. An article in 'Die Zeit'
considers the matter in depth:
No country adopts American imports without adapting them to its own
cultural situation. The notion that
'Americanization' means simply the flattening out of cultural differences is mistaken. It is in fact a process of
continuous, endless modification of cultural inheritance on a foundation of universal standardization.
However, this article is entitled 'Consumption as final purpose' and
concludes that the USA has "grafted onto
Western Europe a new supranational ideal of existence - the egalitarian democracy of consumption", which
also furthers mutual understanding between nations:
modifies racism and religious and cultural antagonism. Each individual,
regardless of skin colour, religion or culture, qualifies as a consumer and therefore cannot be
excluded from the democracy of consumption.
The English language not only brings with it cultural changes, it may
also endanger national languages.
"Globalization threatens languages with the same extinction as animal species... the wave of
Anglo-Americanisation is closing over us and threatens to sink the ship of the German language" according to
the German magazine Der Spiegel in October 2000. The article continues with an explanation of how English
now finds its way deep inside the structure of the German language:
takes root in German, the corpus of the language submits to morphological
changes, foreign expressions affect the soul of the language. "To make money" is not the same
thing as to earn it. Those who dislike anglicisation argue that aesthetically both the spoken and
written language are being damaged.
Movements for conservation of national languages are appearing in many
countries. The German Verein
Deutsche Sprache - Bürger für die Erhaltung der kulturellen Vielfalt in Europa (Association for the German
Language - Citizens for the Conservation of Cultural Diversity in Europe) attracted over 10,000 members in just
a few years. A similar movement, Taalverdediging - bond tegen onnodig Engels (Language Defence -
association against superfluous English) has been founded in the Netherlands.
It is, then, always interesting to look at the question of whether the
introduction of Esperanto could help to
protect cultural diversity.
In the past, Esperantists have not always thought it important to protect
national languages. Especially in the
1920s Esperanto was also used by those who, as a consequence of the First World War, sought to combat
everything nationalistic, including languages. Now, however, most Esperanto-speakers are anxious to preserve
linguistic diversity and many believe that Esperanto has an important role. Dafydd ap Fergus, a Welsh
Esperanto speaker, says this was why he learnt it, since "Esperanto is the last chance for the Welsh language."
Again, the Prague Manifesto of the Esperanto Movement, launched during
the 1996 World Congress, declares
"We are a movement for language diversity".
From what source do Esperantists draw this belief that their language
can help to protect other languages and
cultures? Some simply say that Esperanto is not designed to be a 'mother tongue'. Others go further.
When an official Internet forum for the European Year of Languages 2001
was launched in the spring of that
year, Esperanto soon became the topic that was most eagerly discussed. In a message in English, Jette
Milberg Petersen opposed the introduction of Esperanto, saying: "I would fear that the other languages would
Claude Piron, a translator and psychologist from Switzerland, replied:
Yes, that would
be a tremendous loss for humankind. But I think the risk is much greater
current system of international communication. For lack of a language commonly used among
people of different linguistic backgrounds, everybody learns and tries to use English.
a lot to the disappearance of languages. For instance, in Singapore, many
families switch to English and give up their own language - Mandarin, Hakka, Fukienese, Malay,
Tamil - so that the young are cut off from their cultural roots. This is because being a native speaker
of English has so many advantages. In Israeli newspapers, lately, there are a lot of job offers with the
condition: "native speaker of English". The advantage is linked to the fact that English is so difficult
to use really properly that only native speakers can be relied on. Since Esperanto is so much easier
and is, and will probably remain, a foreign language for all its users, it is not necessary to have
heard it in your family since you were a child to be able to use it at a professional level.
In many European countries today there are signs of a trend towards
teaching English at an earlier and earlier
age. Now small children have to learn it almost as a mother-tongue, because otherwise few manage to master
it. This tendency may easily enough lead to replacement of the mother-tongue by English.
Esperanto-speakers also emphasize that their language cannot be a threat
to national languages; languages
are harmed when speech-elements native to one group replace speech-elements native to another. Since
Esperanto is not an ethnic language it cannot do any damage of this kind.
We do not want to involve ourselves in the sometimes emotional discussion
about how far one language should
be protected against the influence of another. We can, however, calmly consider the question of whether only a
national language such as English can cause the damage mentioned above.
Such an investigation does not require us to imagine a future in which
the whole human race uses Esperanto for
international contacts. There are already plenty of people who use Esperanto practically every day, who think in
that language and feel perfectly at home in this lively language community. This is the case with, for example,
many European members of the Tutmonda Esperantista Junulara Organizo (World Esperanto Youth
Organisation - TEJO) who use the language on the Internet, on the phone and in many international seminars,
congresses, and travel via the Pasporta Servo (an international homestay service for Esperanto-speakers). The
German section of TEJO publishes a bilingual bulletin in German and Esperanto. There appeared an article in
this titled "Kotizo für memzorgantoj gesenkt" - literally, Fee (in Esperanto) reduced for (in German) self-carers
(in Esperanto; an English equivalent would be "those who make their own arrangements").
This phrase demonstrates something which is more often evident in the
spoken language: among young
Europeans who frequently use Esperanto, elements of that language may find their way into the mother-tongue.
This happens most often when they are involved with Esperanto activities, Esperanto culture. It is probable that
the author of that article, a nineteen-year-old civil servant, was quite unconscious of the mix of languages.
It can still be argued, however, that the influence of Esperanto on
other languages is less strongly felt than that of
English today, and that even where such an influence is actually apparent, it is less harmful than the influence of
Esperanto words often have more syllables than English words and speakers
of other languages are less
inclined to borrow them.
Esperanto is more flexible and often provides a variety of options.
For example, an English speaker can say
"Mi estas 20 jarojn agxa" (I am 20 years' old), while French speakers can say "Mi havas 20 jarojn" ("I have 20
years", the counterpart of the French phrase "J'ai 20 ans"). This suggests that it is less likely to have an effect
on the structure of other languages.
Both spoken and written Esperanto are closer to the majority of European
languages than is English. For
example, "amafero" would better harmonize with an Italian context than "la sua love story" (found in an Italian
tabloid). Similarly, "Kotizo für memzorgantoj gesenkt" is more pleasing to the German ear than "Fee für
Finally it should also be noted that Esperanto is not tied to any single
nation; its cultural influence is not as
one-sided as that of English.
6.4 The advantages of Esperanto
In 2001 a German teacher named Michael Scherm estimated that only 5
-7% of Germans can express
themselves well in English. Similar research in 1989 came up with much the same result. A survey by an
advertising agency which invited Europeans to translate sound recordings of three English phrases into their
native languages concluded that "the truly correct understanding of English [in Western Europe] fell well below
our most pessimistic expectations" being limited to about 6% of the population.
A more superficial question produces a more positive result. A press
release from the European Commission
on 20.02 2001 reported the "surprising" information that in a survey of 16,000 Europeans more than half (53%)
"know a second language". However, an article published on the same day by the German news agency dpa
indicated a less rosy picture:
Foreign language shortfall
Half the citizens of the EU not competent in a foreign language
Almost half of
the citizens of the EU are not competent in a foreign language. At the
the European Year of Languages in the Swedish city of Lund last Monday, EU Commissioner for
Education and Culture Viviane Reding announced that a new survey of 16,000 people in the 15
countries of the EU had found that 47.3% speak only their mother tongue.
In 1996/7 a Commission of the German Federal Ministry for Education,
Science, Research and Technology
investigated the linguistic competence of tertiary students. A detailed result was published on the Internet.
An extract follows:
In chapter 5
we indicated that the students' knowledge of English is not very good.
Only 10% of them
have a good knowledge of more than one foreign language and there is no sign of a wish to
change. Only 5% of the sample would be interested in a course in one of the less widely-known
Furthermore, in Germany the European Year of Languages has demonstrated
that interest in foreign languages
is largely confined to English. According to West German radio WDR, in this European Year, "interest should
be directed towards the 'smaller' languages, which are under attack from the great world languages and can
hardly gain any attention." The Culture Ministry of the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen published a list of
events planned for the Year. In it there were 256 proposals relating to English. Not one proposal explicity
mentioned either Finnish or Swedish. Neither was Danish mentioned, though there was one proposal for a
course in Denmark: Life in a Danish family. However the language used would be English.
Returning to the previously-mentioned survey of students' linguistic competence we find that:
The need to deal
with elementary errors in the usual language of communication, English,
demonstrates on the other hand how far we still are from the ideal image of the multilingual
European. This aim of European education policy, directed towards mastery of "an ever increasing
number of the Community languages" can be seen not only to belong to the remote future, but in fact
to be unrealistic, when one observes for example the role of English in the headlong evolution of the
This clearly shows that there is still a sufficient need for a language
which is both easily learnt and neutral. Let us
analyse these advantages of Esperanto.
According to the many and varied experiments in schools, and also to
the experience of the majority of its
speakers, Esperanto is from 3 to 10 times easier to learn than national languages such as English or French. In
the seventies for instance, Helmar Frank of the University of Paderborn established that students could make
themselves better understood in Esperanto after 200 hours of school instruction than in English after 1,500
There are several factors which allow Esperanto to be more easily learnt:
1. Regularity: In Esperanto everything is written
as it pronounced, pronounced as written; there are no
irregular verbs nor complicated declensions; basic grammar consists of 16 rules. In Esperanto, anything
which is logical, is also correct.
2. The method of word formation: one needs
to memorize a relatively small vocabulary because it is
normal to form a great many related words by changing the ending and/or by means of affixes. Thus from
'sano' (health), one can derive the words "malsana," (ill), "sanigi" (to cure), "sanigxi" (to recover, be
cured), "malsanulo" (a patient, someone who is ill) and many more.
3. The international character of the vocabulary:
a great deal of it can be understood by a large proportion
of the world's population without previous study, for example: telefono, muziko, familio, religio, danci,
promesi, diskuti; interesa, eleganta, simpla, etc.
This ease of learning makes the study of the language enjoyable. Further,
the clarity of Esperanto could resolve
some of the problems that arise from unclear pronounciation of English. The German journal Südkurier reported
at the end of 1999 that 'among the 37 worst aviation catastrophies since 1996 at least 13 were caused by
Esperanto provides a valuable basis for learning other languages. It
is often said that this is also true of Latin,
since someone who knows Latin is able to learn other languages (especially some European languages) more
rapidly. While that is true, there is a considerable difference: to learn Latin one has to take on a notable amount
of 'ballast', for example complicated declensions and conjugations. This takes a great deal of time, but has little
relevance to learning other languages. Esperanto, on the other hand, requires no such memorising. The study of
Esperanto consists largely in recognising the 'roles' of words, (nouns, verbs, adjectives) and the function of
phrase-elements, subject, predicate, object, etc. This significantly helps in the study of other languages.
Experiments in Hungarian schools in the 60's showed that 200 hours'
study of Esperanto could save 250, 300
or even 500 hours in subsequent study of a 'national' language, depending on whether the foreign language was
Russian, German, English or French. Prof. Helmar Frank, mentioned above, found later that 160 hours of
"language orientation instruction" in Esperanto could save 26% of the time required for subsequent learning of
English. He calculated that it saves more time than that spent in learning it. This saving is most notable among
less talented students.
Present language policies significantly disadvantage those students
who lack ability in language learning. Even
after great efforts many fail to read or speak even one foreign language to any useful extent. German schools
offer mainly English and French, which are difficult enough, while the courses in Esperanto which may be taught
in high-schools or by local Esperanto groups, usually consist of ten or twenty hours. Making full-time Esperanto
classes available as an alternative to the other language classes, would be a step towards equal rights. It would
enable students to make themselves understood satisfactorily in at least one foreign language and at the same
time it would provide a base for learning other languages. This 'social argument' for Esperanto is not often
presented, though an interesting report from the US a few years ago told how students from higher classes
asked to be allowed to learn Esperanto when they saw how well 'less gifted' students were benefiting from it.
In an earlier research project into language-learning, Esperanto was
taught to different age-groups grouped by
intelligence quotient. The groups aged 20 to 25 gained twice as much on testing as did the group aged 9 to 19,
though the younger group had twice as much instruction. (Thorndike, E.L. et al, Adult Learning, Macmillan, New
York, 1928.) This finding may not be valid for ethnic languages, but is relevant to planning the wider use of
Esperanto. The fact that so much less time is needed to learn Esperanto than to learn English means that more
time can be given to other languages and cultures and even to the social sciences.
The argument that the use of Esperanto in international organizations
could save money may at first glance
seem superficial. Every year the various institutions of the European Union spend about 1.5 billion Euros on
interpretation and translation. If the question is asked whether there is any point in trying to reduce this
expenditure, the answer may lie in the great number of projects in the fields of education and medecine in
developing countries - not to mention responses to disaster - which lack funding because the wealthy states
cannot provide sufficient money. Often a few thousand Euros could lessen the suffering of many people.
The ease and neutrality of Esperanto could also contribute to making
a level playing-field not only for different
populations, but for rich and poor. For example, in developing countries - and not only there - wealthy parents
send their children to schools and universities in Britain or the US in the hope that they will, among other things,
learn to speak English fluently. This can boost their professional careers. The introduction of a language which
Africans and Asians can master without travel or expense would surely be a step towards equal rights.
6.5 Deeper considerations
"If you wish to bring peace, create justice" says a proverb based on
Isaiah 32.17. There are many forms of
injustice which can provoke conflict and one of these is disdain for the dignity and equal rights of other
languages. History shows that it is not possible to rule one people using the language of another. The state falls
apart, as did the Hapsburg Empire, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia. When the subject people is relatively weak,
their language dies; this is what now appears to be happening to Scots-Gaelic in Britain, Sorabi in Germany,
Kashubi in Poland, the language of the Sami in northern Scandinavia and many others.
In his prayer as High Priest (John 17) Jesus prayed for the unity of
believers. Esperanto could be of great help
to this unity. A common language brings people together, and this is especially true of a language which has an
"interna ideo" of promoting understanding and peace between peoples. Esperanto creates a sense of
closeness, solidarity and mutual help unrestricted by national borders. In its constitution IKUE emphasizes that
the aim of the organization is "that all may be one."
Jesus often encouraged his disciples to strive for peace (Matt 5.9 "Blessed
are the peacemakers" or Mark
9.50 "be at peace one with another".)
A mere seven years after the publication of Esperanto, Leo Tolstoy drew attention to its value in these words:
I have often
observed that men become enemies when there arise barriers to mutual understanding.
For this reason Esperanto is undoubtedly a Christian activity, bringing nearer the Reign of God - the
activity which is the principal and unique mission of human life.
Today, when Esperanto gatherings bring together - for example - young
Poles and Germans, their common
language enables them to get to know each other and become friends. They are able to overcome mistrust and
prejudice; past injustices do not concern them.
The tragic events of 11 September 2001 have shown how important is the
peaceful dialogue between different
people and nations all around the world. Esperanto enables this dialogue on a basis of equality. Among
Esperantists nowadays there is a dense network of cross-border friendships, banishing xenophobia. Anyone
who has many friends in other countries has an enlarged horizon and is able to see political conflicts from both
sides. Three examples follow.
During an international seminar of young German esperantists in Traben-Trarbach
(near Luxembourg) at the
end of 1988, Inna Vozlinskaja - a young Russian - spoke about perestroika. When someone asked her what
she thought about the struggles of the Baltic states for independence she replied, presumably as she had been
taught in school, "We Russians gave a great deal of help to those countries, and now they want to separate
from us. If you had a friend whom you helped, and later on he dumped you, you would not like that very much." A
young Hungarian, from a country where there was already freedom of expression, replied, "I don't believe that
those Baltic States ever requested that help".
Some ten years later, during the conflict in Kosovo in 1999, young Serbs
sent Internet messages to their
Esperantist friends all over the world to awaken their sympathy for the sufferings of the people of Yugoslavia.
They endeavoured to explain the reasons which made Yugoslavia persecute Albanian "criminals" and refuse to
accept the Treaty of Rambouillet. But at the same time they wanted to know what their friends thought about
this. Because of their personal friendships, each side considered the other's opinions with respect, so that
before long a message from a young Serb included the words, "I am ashamed of the crimes of my fellow
In August 2000, the 56th congress of the World Esperanto Youth Organisation
(TEJO) was held in Hong Kong.
While discussing religious life in China a German asked a Chinese girl whether she thought of the Dalai Lama
as a good man or a bad one. "Bad" she replied without a second's hesitation, and began to deplore Tibetan
separatism. However, in friendly discussion she learned for the first time about his peaceful work for religious
liberty and the rights of minorities. Since she already knew that Esperantists in other countries work for
humanity and peace she accepted the new knowledge with an open mind.
The more often these international exchanges of opinion occur, the more
nationalistic habits of looking at
conflicts subjectively, from one side only, are modified.
We want to emphasize again that peace is central to Esperanto culture.
There are people of extremely varied
world views and political convictions to be found among esperantists, but in general they can be counted on to
try to smooth the way towards understanding rather than solve conflict by force. Students who take a deeper
interest in Esperanto will encounter Zamenhof's "homaranismo": that might do more for a peaceful future for
humanity than reading Caesar's Gallic Wars in Latin class.
If the Church would decide to choose Esperanto rather than English it
could by this means send a signal that the
peoples of the world, rather than striving single-mindedly for consumption, should strive for peace and
6.6 Criticism and response
There are many objections to Esperanto. Some of them - for instance
the assertion that it is a dead language -
we need not take very seriously. But there are other arguments which deserve to be discussed in depth. We
have already endeavoured to refute the notion that Esperanto could be a threat to cultural diversity. The parallel
argument, that Esperanto is a "European-centred language" and therefore does not offer sufficient advantages
to the peoples of Asia, must be considered seriously.
It is undoubtedly true that Asians have more difficulty in learning
Esperanto than Europeans do. But on the other
hand we recognise that few Europeans are ready to learn an Asian language and there is no fully-functional
planned language which endeavours to incorporate as wide a variety of cultures as possible on equal terms.
Esperanto is therefore in first place as an alternative to English or French, which are full of difficulties which do
not exist in Esperanto. Both the pronunciation and spelling of English are bewildering; verbs in French have
2,450 endings, which must be memorised. Esperanto, as well as having complete phoneme-grapheme
correspondence, is able to function well with only twelve verb endings. If the ease of Esperanto can be
attributed to three principles: regular grammar, the system of word-construction and the internationality of its
vocabulary, the first two at least offer serious advantages to people whose mother-tongue is not of
An excerpt from the Report presented to the General Council of the League
of Nations in Geneva in September
1922 indicates that Asians find the language relatively easy.
shown that Esperanto is very easily learnt, because children in Europe
America learn it in one year by means of two hours study per week, while children in the Far East
can learn in two years, given the same number of lessons, while they need six years' study of four or
five hours per week to learn other European languages.
This report is based on information from teachers of Esperanto and so
should not be considered entirely
objective, but it does imply that it is not only between Europeans that Esperanto facilitates understanding.
Many Europeans have found evidence of this during various Esperanto
congresses in Asia and Africa, for
example the International Youth Congress (IJK) in Hong Kong in August 2000. Even though in that IJK the
average language level was not quite as high as in similar European events, there were enough participants
from Japan, Korea, China, etc. who spoke the language excellently and who reported that for them Esperanto is
not merely easier than English, but also easier than other Asian languages. And the enthusiasm of many Asian
young people suggests that Esperanto is no less acceptable in Asia than in Europe.
The other serious arguments still proffered against Esperanto are that
it lacks culture, and that the language has
no chance of gaining general approval.
Consider the first of these arguments. The assertion that Esperanto
culture is not as rich as that of the major
national languages is true enough, even though there are some tens of thousands of books and booklets in
Esperanto, prose and poetry both original and translated. One can also point out that this culture could be
enriched very quickly if Esperanto were to become more popular or were to receive more support from national
states or from international organisations.
But sometimes the accusation is that Esperanto is lacking in quality
as well as in quantity; it is said "not to have
Esperantists respond to that criticism by saying, for example, that
"Esperanto was developed from the cultural
heritage of the European languages" and "contains within itself the soul of the European cultural languages", but
sometimes they also cite specific writers who have given the language its soul: "The spirit of the language lives
in this uninhibited and faultless style" wrote Kálmán Kalocsay about the Polish poet Kazimierz Bein (Kabe) who,
between 1904 and 1911, was famous in the Esperanto movement for the style of his translations and for the
first popular single-language Esperanto dictionary.
The philosopher Rudolf Carnap (1891-1970) learnt Esperanto when he was about fourteen and he reported:
When I took part
in an Esperanto congress a few years later, it seemed to me almost a miracle
when I found how easily I could follow the lectures and discussions in the large public conferences
and how well I could take part in private conversation with foreigners from many countries, while I
had never succeeded in conversing in the languages I had studied at school for many years. The
high point of the Congress was the performance of Goethe's "Iphigenie" in Esperanto. For me it
was both edifying and extremely moving to listen to this drama in a new medium filled with the spirit
of humanity, enabling thousands of spectators from many lands to understand it, and so feel their
In the light
of an experience such as this, one cannot take very seriously the arguments
of those who
say that an international auxiliary language may be useful for commerce and even possibly for the
natural sciences, but that it is not a suitable means of communication for personal matters or for
discussion of social and cultural sciences, much less for novels and drama. It is noticeable that most
of those who make these assertions have no practical experience of the language.
On the 10th of September 1993, the International PEN club accepted the
Esperanto PEN Centre as a member
and thereby acknowledged Esperanto to be a literary language. At present the most famous writer in Esperanto
literature is the Scot William Auld. Since 1998 the Esperanto PEN Centre has more than once nominated him
for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Here is his view of Esperanto as a literary language:
Most people are
able to grasp the idea of translation into an international language. Less
accepted is our claim that Esperanto is, of all the languages in the world, the one into which
translation is most satisfactory. And it is extremely hard for most people to grasp that it is possible
to write original works, especially poetry, in Esperanto. These people say, correctly, that to write
poetry one must experience and feel emotion directly in the language in which one writes. What they
cannot imagine is that a great many people in the world do just that: for many people, Esperanto is
a language of feeling - and it is their own. Many Esperantists are for various reasons able to attach
to the International Language that feeling of reverence with which others regard their mother-tongue
. This is a fact, however disagreeable it may be to some nationalists, and the original literature in
Esperanto derives from this fact.
Let us turn to the final argument against Esperanto - that the language
hasn't any chance against English. This
is a very pessimistic sentiment. A language barrier of considerable height still exists in the world today, and the
idea of demolishing it with the help of Esperanto is still very much an issue. "If the world depended on
pessimists, we would still be living in caves" said the Brazilian Esperantist Walter Francini in his book
"Esperanto sen antauxjugxoj" (Esperanto without prejudice). In the introduction to this book, published in 1978,
he wrote: "It is easier to break down the Berlin Wall than to get rid of the prejudice in the mind of a single
person." Eleven years later the Berlin Wall did in fact fall down, but prejudice remains. Francini believes that if
enough people work tirelessly and optimistically for Esperanto, "the weight of facts" will in the end let it win the
day. He also points out that the metric system, proposed in 1791, was adopted only step-by-step (and in some
countries such as Britain and the USA it has not been adopted yet). Similarly, Christianity penetrated society
only gradually and, even today, only to a certain degree.
Now many speakers of even the most powerful languages humbly acknowledge
the takeover by the English
language. Joschka Fischer, the German Minister for External Affairs, said in July 2000: "Instead of competing in
vain against English as a lingua franca, it would be more profitable for us to use our energy to win for German
the role of a second foreign language." The head of the Alliance Francaise in Brussels expressed even deeper
resignation when she said, "On account of the power of English, efforts to spread French culture are a waste of
In spite of the role of English, learning French or German can still
be profitable. Similarly, Esperantists
sometimes insist that their language has value even if it remains the means of communication of only a minority.
After some not very difficult - even enjoyable - study, a new world opens; one finds oneself in touch with new
friends and, almost without noticing - helping understanding between peoples.
While some believe that Esperanto should not now try to compete with
English, others point out that its future
depends on political decisions. Umberto Eco remarks that Albanians and Tunisians learn Italian quite easily,
simply because technology allows them to watch Italian television. According to him, it would be even easier to
accustom different peoples to the international auxiliary language. A political decision, accompanied by an
international campaign in the media, could spread such a language very rapidly. He adds, "Even if that political
decision has not been taken and it seems difficult to bring it about, that does not mean that it will not happen in
Esperanto would become popular if it could win more support. In 1998
the Federal Government, together with
the states, cities and counties, spent about 170 million Euros on education, research and science. One can
reasonably suppose that at least 10 million Euros were spent, directly or indirectly, on teaching the English
language. If we compare this with the budgets of the Esperanto organizations - in the year 2000 the German
Esperanto Youth, the German Esperanto Association and other local organizations in Germany may have spent
about EUR 150,000 - we can see that in Germany there is about 100,000 times more financial support for the
English language, especially if we add the expenses of private firms. The future of Esperanto depends on
whether these proportions change.
If we are asked whether Esperanto will ever "triumph" we should not
say that we are satisfied with being able to
use it as it is. The following would be a more mature reply: "I do not know whether Esperanto will achieve
general acceptance, since we cannot foresee the future, but I think it both possible and desirable, so I
endeavour to bring it about."
We hope that many will not only agree with the following (unfortunately
rather pessimistic ) opinion of Umberto
Eco, but will take it as an encouragement to try harder:
If pressure to
multiply the number of languages accompanies the process of European unification,
the only solution has to be acceptance of a European language of communication. The only
objections that still exist are those noted by Fontanelle, found also in d'Alambert's introduction to the
Encyclopedie, that is, the egotism of governments, which never distinguish themselves by efforts to
improve human society. No matter how irrefutable the need for an "auxiliary language" may be, the
human race, which is incapable of agreeing on the most urgent action to save the planet from
environmental catastrophe, hardly seems capable of painlessly healing the wounds of Babel.
According to Monsignor Josef Grabmaier, a parish priest in Munich, "Esperanto
is the best gift the Catholic
Church could give to the world". At first glance, this seems to be an eccentric opinion, since there are certainly a
great many problems in the world, with language by no means the most serious.
The Pope, bishops and priests frequently direct suggestions, requests
and instructions to the faithful - and
sometimes also to unbelievers - which deserve serious respect. It is right and proper that they should
encourage people to open their hearts to Christ, to love God and their neighbour.
Esperanto cannot be placed on the same level; it is simply a means to
a higher purpose. Nevertheless,
encouragement to learn Esperanto can have a particular value because it is not simply a repetition of what has
been heard before. The proposal to learn Esperanto is not only something concrete, but for most people an
entirely new idea.
We have already tried to show that it could pave the way to understanding
and peace. The Christian Churches
often endeavour to mediate between enemies. During the war in Kosovo in 1999 Pope John Paul II made
repeated efforts, both by diplomacy and in his public speeches, to persuade both sides to embrace peace.
However, the war was ended by force.
Indeed, we know very well that not every gift offered by the Church
is appreciated. If the Catholic Church should
decide to take steps in favour of Esperanto, we can take it for granted that this too will meet with some
resistance. Still, there is a fair chance that if the Catholic Church accepted Esperanto the world would follow its
example. After all, it would not be nearly so difficult as many other actions that the Church advocates. Perhaps
we can, then, accept the view of Pastor Grabmaier.
A great many people fail to speak Esperanto simply because they have
no idea that it is alive and well; they
may never have heard of it. Others would like to learn, but cannot find a class anywhere near them - even in
cities where there are people who would be able to teach it, neither language schools nor Esperanto groups
offer courses because there is not sufficient demand. All this would change if some favourable event would
awaken attention, something to which Esperantists have long looked forward. They continue to hope that the EU
will examine the language seriously, or that the World Esperanto Association will win a Nobel Prize, or that
some famous politician will make a decisive move.
The decision of the Catholic Church to accept Esperanto as the New Latin
would be just such an event. It would
not be necessary, and probably not possible, to make use of Esperanto right away in Episcopal Synods or
other meetings, but to decide on this as a future goal would be a most valuable step. Even if the Pope, bishops
or Church institutions were to publicly encourage Christians to learn the language, this would greatly support
Esperanto in the struggle to become better known and acceptable.
Each user of new inventions, such as the fax machine and the Internet,
increases their value. The same is and
will be true of Esperanto. As soon as the number of users passes a certain threshold it will become a matter of
course for people everywhere.
Most people now have either no idea at all about Esperanto, or a quite
misguided one. This, rather than
well-thought-out arguments, may well be the reason why it is not generally accepted. In his book 'The Search for
the Perfect Language' Umberto Eco told how he had for decades "dismissed the notion of Esperanto". While
researching this wide-ranging book he looked more deeply into the matter and - as we have shown - gave a
very positive account of it, refuting almost any imaginable objection.
The Catholic Church (together with other Christian Churches) is faced
with a decision, whether simply to let the
politics of language remain the concern of the layperson, or instead to put forward its own proposals, ideas and
demands. If the Church leaves responsibiliity for language politics in the hands of Heads of State, Ministers for
Culture and national parliaments, this in reality leaves it to the economy, that is, to the global market, the
multinational companies and commercial enterprises. These have not the slightest interest in language human
rights. For them, linguistic diversity gets in the way of profit. It is, therefore, highly desirable that the Church
should involve itself in the politics of language, in which, after all, it has incomparable experience.
"If I knew the end of the world would come tomorrow, I would still plant
my apple tree today." This saying is
attributed to Martin Luther. It is a paradox that many people admire these words, though most still say "I would
only learn Esperanto today if I could be certain that everyone else would learn Esperanto tomorrow."
But still it is encouraging to see that there are people who choose
not to study the languages that would give
most advantage to themselves, but that language which could most benefit the human race. It is not unusual to
find that doing something unselfish turns out to be a pleasure. Esperanto is an excellent example. To most
people it does not appear to be any use in everyday life or in a professional career; they take it up simply from
idealistic motives. But then, when they have learnt the language, they find that it has positively enriched their
lives and provided an abundance of unexpectedly meaningful and agreeable connections with the whole world.
Christian esperantists retain a beautiful vision which the Church could
help to bring about by encouragement
and action. But even now there exists a beautiful reality of easy communication on a basis of equality in a
fraternal atmosphere, with many opportunities to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We shall conclude with a
quotation from Bishop Karel Otcenásek:
One of the most
important initiatives and fruits of the Second Vatican Council is the new
evangelization - 'aggiornamento' - dialogue with the World. We have a superb tool for this dialogue -
the supra-national language, which sets no one above anyone else and neglects no one. Let us use
this instrument to spread the love of God among the human race.
DR Dia Regno (KELI's magazine)
EK Espero Katolika (IKUE's magazine)
IKUE Internacia Katolika Unuigxo Esperantista (International Catholic Esperanto Union)
IKUEJ IKUE-Junularo (IKUE-Youth)
JET Junulara Ekumena Esperanto-Tendaro (Ecumenical Esperanto Youth Camp)
KELI Kristana Esperantista Ligo Internacia (International Christian Esperanto League)
KET Katolika Esperanto-Tendaro (Catholic Esperanto Camp)
IKUE, Via di Porta Fabbrica 15, I-00165 Roma RM, Italio, <email@example.com>
KELI, Els van Dijk-Kuperus, Koningsmantel 4, NL-2403 HZ Alphen a/d Rijn, the Netherlands, <javadi@ worldonline.nl>
This book's website (English version): home.t-online.de/home/ulrich.matthias/latin_en.htm
Esperanto in general (in about 50 languages): www.esperanto.net
1887 On the 27th of July, Dr Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof publishes the first textbook of Esperanto.
1902 The Espero Katolika society is founded by Father Emile Peltier.
A year later he begins publishing the
magazine of the same name.
1905 The first large gathering of Catholic Esperantists takes place
during the first World Esperanto Congress
1910 The first Catholic Esperanto Congress is held in Paris. During
the Congress, the International Catholic
Esperanto Union (IKUE), is founded.
1911 KELI, the International Christian Esperanto League, is founded by Protestant Esperantists in Antwerp.
1926 In London, the British and Foreign Bible Society publishes the
Bible in Esperanto (Old and New
1945-89 Despite numerous obstacles, Catholic Esperantists are extremely active, even in Eastern Europe.
1968 The first Ecumenical Esperanto Congress is held in Limburg, Germany.
1977 Vatican Radio begins regular broadcasts in Esperanto (once a week
at first, then twice a week from
1981, and three times a week since 1998).
In Czechoslovakia the police arrest the organiser of the Catholic Esperanto
Camps; shortly afterwards IKUE's
Czech section is forced to disband.
1990 In November, the Vatican approves the Esperanto translation of the prayers of the Mass.
1991 At the World Youth Day in Czestochowa, Poland, Pope John Paul II
greets the participants in several
languages including Esperanto.
After an enforced break of 14 years, IKUE's Czech section resumes organising the Catholic Esperanto Camps.
In the first Special Synod for Europe at the end of November, Auxiliary
Bishop György Jakubinyi of Rumania,
now archbishop of Alba Iulia, appeals for the introduction of Esperanto as a means of communication within the
1992 By a decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Holy See
officially recognises IKUE as an
international organisation of Catholic faithful.
1994 Pope John Paul II includes Esperanto among the languages of his
annual Easter and Christmas
1995 In Rome, the Esperanto Missal and Lectionary for Sundays and Feastdays is published.
1996 IKUEJ, the youth section of IKUE, is founded during the Catholic
Esperanto Camp at Sebranice (Czech
1997 The first Ecumenical Youth Esperanto Camp (JET) takes place in
Unterkirnach (Black Forest, southern
At a general audience in St Peter's Square, participants in IKUE's 50th
Congress are personally greeted by
Pope John Paul II speaking in Esperanto.
1998 At Taizé, the 2nd Ecumenical Youth Esperanto Camp organises
conversation circles and discussions on
the Scriptures in Esperanto.
2001 The prayer and hymnbook ADORU of 1,472 pages is published in Germany.
E. The structure of Esperanto
The Esperanto alphabet has 28 letters:
a, b, c, cx, d, e, f, g, gx, h, hx, i, j, jx, k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, sx, t, u, ux, v, z
a, e, i, o, u are simple vowels like in English f-a-ther, b-e-d, mach-i-ne, cr-o-ss, J-u-ne.
c ts - as in tsar, bits
cx ch - as in church
g g - always hard as in go
gx j - as in joke
hx German ch - as in loch, ach
j y - as in yes
(oj: oy - as in boy)
jx zh - as s in pleasure
r always pronounced, rolled if possible
s s - as in see
sx sh - as in shall
ux w - as in will
Words are always stressed on the second-to-last syllable: hotelo, kontinento,
The followings endings characterize parts of speech:
-o noun sukceso - success
-i verb (infinitive) sukcesi - to succeed
-a adjective sukcesa - successful
In the plural a -j is added both to nouns and to the adjectives that
belong to them:
granda domo - a big house
grandaj domoj - big houses
Adverbs have the ending -e:
Lisa estas bela. - Lisa is beautiful.
Lisa kantas bele. - Lisa sings beautifully.
The direct object of a verb is marked with -n (accusative ending):
Li estas bona amiko. - He is a good friend.
Li havas bonan amikon. - He has a good friend.
The definite article (the) is "la". The English indefinite article (a, an) is not translated:
la tablo - the table tablo - a table
la tabloj - the tables tabloj - tables
The personal pronouns are:
mi - I gxi - it
vi - you ni - we
li - he ili - they
sxi - she
The possessive adjectives are formed by adding the adjective ending -a to the corresponding pronoun:
mia - my, via - your, lia - his, ...
The six endings of the verb are:
-as present tense -i infinitive
-is past tense -u imperative
-os future -us conditional
There are no irregular verbs, and the endings do not depend on the subject:
mi estas - I am, vi estas - you are, li estas - he is, ...
The basic numerals are:
Tens, hundreds and thousands are formed by simple conjunction of the numerals:
2,374 dumil tricent sepdek kvar
Ordinal numbers are formed with the ending -a:
unua - first, dua - second, tria - third, ...
Yes-no questions are formed with "cxu":
Cxu vi komprenas min? - Do you understand me?
(jes = yes, ne = no)
The comparative of adjectives is formed with "pli" (more), the superlative with "plej" (most):
granda - big
pli granda ol - bigger than
plej granda - biggest
In Esperanto, there is a system of affixes that allows you to construct
many words, in such a way that it is not
necessary to learn them specially. Here are some examples:
mal- opposite: bona - good, malbona - bad
re- again, back: vidi - see, revidi - see again;
veni - come, reveni - come back, return
-ar collection: arbo - a tree, arbaro - a forest
-ebl possibility: vidi - to see, videbla - visible
-eg more, bigger: varma - warm, varmega - hot
-ej place: lerni - to lern, lernejo - school
-et less, smaller: libro - book, libreto - booklet
-ig to make: plena - full, plenigi - to fill
-il tool, instrument: razi - to shave, razilo - razor
-in feminine: regxo - king, regxino - queen
-ul person: sankta - holy, sanktulo - a saint
For more detailed introductions to Esperanto, see the web page www.esperanto.net.
Pregxo de la Sinjoro/Patronia (The Lord's Prayer / The Our Father)
Patro nia, kiu estas en la cxielo, sanktigata estu via nomo. Venu via
regno, farigxu via volo, kiel en la cxielo, tiel
ankaux sur la tero. Nian panon cxiutagan donu al ni hodiau, kaj pardonu al ni niajn sxuldojn, kiel ankaux ni
pardonas al niaj sxuldantoj. Kaj ne konduku nin en tenton, sed liberigu nin de la malbono. Cxar via estas la
regno kaj la potenco kaj la gloro eterne. Amen.
Saluton Maria (The Hail Mary)
Saluton Maria, gracoplena, la Sinjoro estas kun vi. Benata vi estas
inter la virinoj, kaj benata estas la frukto de
via sino, Jesuo. Sankta Maria, Dipatrino, pregxu por ni pekuloj, nun kaj en la horo de nia morto. Amen.
From the end of the 19th century to the present day, Esperanto has served
to bring about better understanding
between Christians from different countries. Nevertheless, the language, its aims, advantages and uses, are
still unknown to a large part of the world's population.
The first scientific study to examine the language barrier in the Church
and the prospects of Esperanto was the
dissertation of the Polish Capuchin Father Jerzy Korytkowski. The Italian original - "La Chiesa e il problema
della lingua ausiliare internazionale" (The Church and the problem of an international auxiliary language),
Rome 1976 - was translated into French and Spanish; in 1984 a completely revised edition in Polish was
In the 1990s - following the collapse of the totalitarian regimes and
with some encouragement from the Vatican
- the Christian Esperanto movement experienced new optimism. A German priest, Father Bernhard Eichkorn,
looked for someone to write a new book on the Church and Esperanto as an alternative to his original idea of translating Father Korytkowski's work into German. This is how the book "Esperanto - das neue Latein der Kirche" came to be published in 1999. Most of its 10,000 copies were sold within two years.
After receiving offers to translate the book into other languages, the
author wrote an updated and expanded
Esperanto version, published in 2001 under the title: "Esperanto - la nova latino de la Eklezio". Thanks to the
work of Mike Leon (New Zealand) and Maire Mullarney (Ireland) it is now available in an English translation
revised by the author. To all who helped with the publication of this book through their suggestions, contributions
or proofreading, the author expresses his heartfelt thanks, especially to the two translators and the proofreaders
Adolf Burkhardt (Germany), and William W. Patterson and Chuck Smith (U.S.A.).
The international language Esperanto, politically neutral and easy to learn, was created to facilitate understanding between people of different races, languages and religions. From its earliest years it attracted the interest of Christians, who began using the language in order to make contact with people all over the world on a basis of equality.
Esperanto gained increasing support in the international Christian community, including the Vatican. This book describes the history and current state of the Christian Esperanto movement and shows how the international language can serve the Church as the "New Latin".
Ulrich Matthias was born in Germany in 1966 and studied mathematics in Heidelberg, where he gained a PhD in 1994. After six months as a European Research Fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in 1996 he began work as an actuary in Wiesbaden.
He learned Esperanto in 1986, and since then he has taken part in numerous international gatherings of Esperanto-speaking Christians. In 2001 he married Nan Wang, a Catholic from China, whom he had met the year before at the World Congress of Young Esperantists in Hong Kong.
Zamenhof at the age of 16
Louis de Beaufront
Catholic Esperanto Camp in Sebranice, 1994
Catholic Esperanto Camp in Sebranice, 1995
National languages of Catholics
Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Italian, German, Polish, Tagalog, others
(estimate by the author)
A page from ADORU
World Congress of Young Esperantists in Strasbourg (France), 2001
Text on the title page
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
IN PRINCIPIO CREAVIT DEUS CAELUM ET TERRAM
En la komenco Dio kreis la cxielon kaj la teron
Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (1966) 36, 1-2.
See e.g. Angela Wilkes, Latin for Beginners, London 1999.
Lexicon recentis Latinitas, LEVaticana vol. II
Karl Rahner, Über das Latein als Kirchensprache,
für Katholische Theologie 84 (1962) pp. 259-299.
Benoit Philippe, Sprachwandel bei einer Plansprache am Beispiel des Esperanto, Konstanz 1991, p. 174.
See Isaj Dratwer, Pri internacia lingvo dum jarcentoj, Tel Aviv 1977, p. 9.
Ibid., p. 8.
See Umberto Eco, The Search for the Perfect Language, Oxford 1993, Ch. 14.
Georg F. Strasser, Lingua Universalis, Wiesbaden 1988.
Alfonso Pechan (ed.), Gvidlibro por supera ekzameno, Budapest 1979, p. 22.
Pierre Janton, L'Espéranto, Paris 1977, p.15. English edition: Esperanto: language, literature, and community, Albany 1993. Also Gaston Waringhien, Lingo kaj vivo, Rotterdam 21989, p. 449.
Árpád Rátkai, La internacilingva movado kiel kreinto de la Internacia Lingvo, p. 168, in Socipolitikaj aspektoj de la Esperanto-movado, ed. by Detlev Blanke, pp. 166-181.
Edmond Privat, Historio de la lingvo Esperanto, 2nd part, Leipzig 1927, p.62.
L.L. Zamenhof, Originala Verkaro, ed. by Johannes
Dietterle, Leipzig 1929, p. 417.
Ibid., p. 418.
Adolf Holzhaus, Doktoro kaj lingvo Esperanto, Helsinki 1969.
Originala Verkaro, p. 420; Marjorie Boulton, Zamenhof, Creator of Esperanto, London 21980, p.15.
Gaston Waringien, Lingvo kaj vivo, Rotterdam 21989, pp. 41-48.
Originala Verkaro, p. 421.
Enciklopedio de Esperanto, ed. by Lajos Kökény and Vilmos Bleier, Budapest 1933, pp. 580-581.
L.L. Zamenhof, Dua Libro de l'lingvo Interncia, Warsaw 1888, see Originala Verkaro, p. 26.
Originala Verkaro, p. 21.
Originala Verkaro, pp. 145-146.
V. N. Devjatnin, Vizito cxe d-ro Zamenhof, LEA/G Magazino 1/1993, p. 3.
Originala Verkaro, p. 496.
Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 59.
Marei Drassdo-Walcher, Die Kunstsprache als Hoffnungsbanner, Stuttgarter Nachrichten 07.03.1987.
Edmond Privat, Vivo de Zamenhof, East Perth 51977, p. 80.
Originala Verkaro, p. 237.
Vivo de Zamenhof, p. 130.
Ibid., p. 131.
Ibid., p. 116.
Ibid., p. 131.
Originala Verkaro, p. 370.
Ibid., p. 372.
Marjorie Boulton, L.L. Zamenhof - Pioneer Poet, in Rüdiger Eichholz (ed.), Esperanto in the Modern World, Baileboro 1982, p. 83.
Originala Verkaro, pp. 312-313, 315, 325.
Ibid., pp. 408-409.
Ibid., p. 340.
Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 281.
Ibid., p. 100.
Originala Verkaro, p. 491; see also Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 351, and Ulrich Lins, La dangxera lingvo, Gerlingen 1988, p. 29.
William Auld, La fenomeno Esperanto, Rotterdam 1988, p. 80.
La dangxera lingvo, p. 30.
Lorenzo Rosati, Pastro Emile Peltier (1870-1909), Espero Katolika 1-5/1994, p. 38.
who pubished his opinions under the pseudonym 'Homarano' or with the signature of Dr Alexander Naumann; see Originala Verkaro, pp. 329-338.
Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 100; La dangxera lingvo, p. 29.
Originala Verkaro, pp. 329, 334.
Ibid., pp. 335-336.
Ibid., p. 336.
Ibid., p. 336-337.
Letter of 6 December 1902, see Lorenzo Rosati, Pastro Emile Peltier (1870-1909), Espero Katolika 1-5/1994, p. 39. All information about Peltier and the early years of the International Catholic Esperanto Union is taken from this paper and from Nico Hoen, Historio de Internacia Katolika Unuigxo Esperantista (1903-1983), Espero Katolika 7-12/1992, pp. 114-163.
Op. cit., p. 125.
Carlo Sarandrea, Claudius Colas (1884-1914), Espero Katolika 9-10/2000, p. 177.
Henk A. de Hoog, Nia Historio, K.E.L.I. de 1911-1961, Hardinxfeld 1964, p. 7.
Ibid, p. 27.
Ibid., p. 29.
Ibid., p. 31.
Ibid., p. 32; an example is the letter of Zamenhof in French on the manuscript of the Old Testament (see below).
La dangxera lingvo, p. 60.
Historio de la lingvo Esperanto, 2nd part, pp. 95-96.
Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 239.
Walter Mudrak, Max Josef Metzger. Martiro por paco kaj unueco en Kristo, pioniro de ekumenismo, kaj esperantisto, Meßkirch 1987; Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 281
Originala Verkaro, p. 472.
Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 49.
Lorenzo Rosati, Juan Font Giralt, La unua esperantista martiro, Espero Katolika 1-5/1994, pp. 46-49.
Nia historio, p. 92-95; Espero Katolika 7-12/1992, p. 139.
Nia historio, p. 75.
Ibid., p. 78.
La dangxera lingvo, p. 119.
Ibid., p. 120.
Nia historio, p. 78
Ibid., p. 102.
Ibid., pp. 104-105.
There is an example in La dangxera lingvo, p. 131.
La dangxera lingvo, p. 128; see also Henk Thien, La vivo de d-ro L. L. Zamenhof en bildoj, 1984, pp. 100-119, and Marjorie Boulton, Zamenhof, Creator of Esperanto, London 21980.
Walter Mudrak, op. cit.
See Ulrich Lins, La dangxera lingvo, Gerlingen 1988, p. 394.
Nia historio, p. 113.
La dangxera lingvo, pp. 439, 490.
Espero Katolika 7-12/1992, p. 147.
Ibid., p. 155.
Miloslav Svacek, Kiel ni arangxis katolikajn Esperanto-Tendarojn dum totalisma sistemo, Dio Benu 1/1999 (33), p. 26; Adolf Burkhardt: Wenn die Ökumene Esperanto spricht: Die zwölf Kongresse von IKUE und KELI (1968-1996), Ökumenisches Esperanto-Forum, June 1998 (30), p. 1.
See the serial "Kiel ni arangxis katolikajn Esperanto-Tendarojn dum totalisma sistemo", Dio Benu 2/1998-4/1999.
Georgo Korytkowski, Internacia lingva komunikado en la Eklezio kaj nuntempa mondo, Warszawa 1986, p. 36.
Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, Freiburg 21931, vol. III, p. 800
There is a detailed paper on the attitudes of the popes towards Esperanto on the internet (in Italian): Carlo Sarandrea, Discernimento dei papi da San Pio X a oggi sul carisma dei cattolici esperantisti, http://www.museosanpiox.it/piox/espsarandrea.htm.
Espero Katolika, special edition 1909 (August).
Isai Dratwer, Pri internacia lingvo dum jarcentoj, Tel-Avivo 21977, p. 196.
Espero Katolika 7-12/1992, p. 152 (see also Espero Katolika 6/1964).
Espero Katolika 9-10/1996, pp. 164-165.
L' Osservatore Romano 115 (15.08.1975), p. 2.
Georgo Korytkowski, Internacia lingva komunikado en la Eklezio kaj nuntempa mondo, Warsaw 1986, p. 36
As shown by a telegram reproduced in Espero Katolika 8/1991, p. 133.
Internacia lingva komunikado en la Eklezio kaj nuntempa mondo, p. 36.
The two greetings were also published in Esperanto in L' Osservatore Romano (22.08.1991); see also Espero Katolika 8/1991, pp. 131-133.
Esperanto 9/1993, p. 143.
L' Osservatore Romano, 05.-06.04.1994; see also Espero Katolika 1-5/1994, pp. 13-15, 56.
L' Osservatore Romano, 27.-28.12.1994; see also Espero Katolika 11-12/1994, pp. 1-3.
L' Osservatore Romano, 04.09.1997, p. 5; see also Espero Katolika 7-8/1997, p. 120.
see Jerzy Korytkowski, Internacia lingvo en Eklezio kaj mondo, Rome 1976, p. 133, who refers to letters from the Vatican with date 26.04.1966 and 16.07.1968.
Espero Katolika 5-6/1992, p. 51.
Espero Katolika 1-2/1992, p. 19-22.
Timm Maximilian Hirscher, Esperanto - das neue Latein in der Kirche, KNA Korrespondentenbericht (55), 02.02.1995.
Meslibro, Rome 1995, p. 9.
Nikola Rai§c, Enorme kreskas la sci-malsato, Esperanto 12/1997, p. 214 (review of André Cherpillod, Zamenhof kaj judismo, Cougenard 1997).
Georgo Korytkowski, Internacia lingva komunikado en la Eklezio kaj nuntempa mondo, p. 82.
Espero Katolika 1-10/1993, p. 29.
Espero Katolika 5-8/1995, p. 91-92.
Internacia lingvo en Eklezio kaj mondo, p. 167.
TTT-Himnaro Cigneto, http://www.geocities.com/cigneto/pretaj.html.
http://www.esperanto.nu/upsala/biblio/ or http://www.geocities.com/kalblando/enc/b/biblio.htm.
Japanese Buddhist Esperanto League, http://www13.u-page.so-net.ne.jp/wa2/syam-z/budhismo.indekso.html.
For example: "Islamaj demandoj" (Islamic questions, from Iran), http://www.geocities.com/islamajdemandoj/.
"There is clear evidence for greater religious activity among BEA (British Esperanto Association) members than in the population generally." - Peter G. Forster, The Esperanto Movement, The Hague 1982, p. 325.
Frank Stocker, Wer spricht Esperanto? Kiu parolas Esperanton? Unterschleissheim 1996, p. 27.
Dio Benu 1/1995, p. 1.
Dia Regno 5/1995, p. 8.
Espero Katolika 11-12/1995, p. 195.
Dia Regno 3/2000, p. 6.
Espero Katolika 7-8/1997, p. 122.
The Esperanto translation "Neatendita gxojo" has been published also on the web: http://home.t-online.de/home/b.eichkorn/letero.htm.
Dio Benu 4/1992, p. 61.
Dio Benu 4/1994, p. 122.
Georgo Korytkowski, Internacia lingva komunikado en la Eklezio kaj nuntempa mondo, Varsovio 1986, p. 41.
Ibid., p. 47.
John Deedy, Retrospect, Chicago 1990, p. 31, see http://www.sxws.com/charis/odds20.htm.
Die Messfeier in lateinischer Sprache wiederentdecken, Die Welt, 22.12.1999.
Lefebvre (1905-1991) was excommunicated by Pope John Paul II in 1988.
Gernot Facius, Ratzinger, die Liebe zum Latein und das verlorene Geheimnis, Die Welt, 24.12.1999.
Pope Pushes for Wider Use of Latin, EWTN News Brief, 22.02.2002.
James Meek, Latin is all Greek to us, Catholic bishops admit, The Guardian, 16.10.1999, p. 5.
"Leb wohl, Latein" - Sprachprobleme beim Konsistorium in Rom, dpa, 24.05.2001.
Kardinal Meißner bedauert Verschwinden des Lateins beim Episkopat, dpa, 25.05.2001.
Publik-Forum 21/1999, p. 35.
In Warschau daheim. Eindrücke von Teilnehmern, Taizé , p. 10.
Ibid., p. 7.
Regulation 1/1958 of the Council, Article 1, http://www.troc.es/ciemen/mercator/UE3-GB.HTM.
Uwe Joachim Moritz, Europa spricht mit 100 Zungen / Euxropo parolas 100-lange, Osnabrück 1997.
Ingo Friedrich, Babylonische Sprachverwirrung, Die Welt, 15.03.2001.
Nicola Minnaja, The language problem and innovation, in Reinhard Selten (ed.), The Costs of European Linguistic (non) Communication, Rome 1997, p 44.
English, French and German.
Esperanto in Baden-Württemberg 5-6/1986, p. 11.
Esperanto 4/1999, p. 78.
Personal information from Mr Pirlot.
Gert Raeithel, Wir wollen viel Wow, Der Spiegel, 30.10.2000, http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/21jh/0,1518,100378,00.html.
Richard Herzinger, Endziel Konsum, Die Zeit 45/2000, http://www.zeit.de/2000/45/Kultur/200045_amerika.html.
Gert Raeithel, op. cit.
Esperanto aktuell 5/2000, p. 6.
See Lanti (Eugčne Adam), founder of the Sennacia Asocio Tutmonda (SAT): "A true non-nationalist is one who uses and applies an international language as an instrument to expel and destroy national languages." (Lanti, Sennaciulo 1929, quoted in record of SAT-Youth meeting in 1988).
Message from Dafydd ap Fergus, internet mailinglist "Jaro-de-lingvoj", 17.11.2000
http://www.esperanto.se/dok/manifesto.html (in 22 languages).
This kind of argumentation can be found in László Gados, Brilu cxiu lingvo samrajte!, Budapest 2001, http://home.t-online.de/home/Ulrich.Matthias/brosx_eo.htm.
Ulrich Görtz, Kotizo für memzorgantoj gesenkt, GEJ-Gazeto 5/1992, p. 20.
Esperanto kaj instruado 1/2001, p. 15.
Mark Fettes, Europe's Babylon: Towards a single european language? http://members.it.tripod.de/gmarino/lingua3.htm; see also Esperanto 5/89, p. 98.
Jerzy Korytkowski, Internacia lingvo en Eklezio kaj mondo, p. 121.
Martin Ebner, Keine Sprache für den Himmel, Südkurier, 12.11.1999.
R. kaj M. Klag in Esperanto in Baden-Württemberg 4/87; see also Helmar Frank, Thesen zur Deutschen Sprachpolitik, Paderborn 1973/74, p. 9.
Helmar Frank, Das Paderborner Experiment zum Spachorientierungsunterricht, in Das Kommunikations- und Sprachenproblem in der Europäischen Gemeinschaft, Brussel 1993, p. 106; English translation in Reinhard Selten (ed.), The Costs of European Linguistic (non) Communication, Rome 1997.
Ibid., p. 107.
Hans Erasmus, La lingva problemo kaj la kostoj de komunikado, in Reinhard Selten (ed.), La kostoj de la Euxropa lingva (ne-)komunikado, Rome 1997.
For examples, see Claude Piron, The hidden perverse effects of the current system of international communication, http://www.esperanto-konstanz.de/text/hidperv.htm.
Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 541.
In the German edition of this book there are three pages of excerpts from German newspapers and books. Ulrich Matthias, Esperanto - das neue Latein der Kirche, Meßkirch 1999, pp. 94-96.
Edmond Privat, Historio de Esperanto, vol II, Geneva 1927, p. 140.
It may also be mentioned that Esperanto diminishes nothing in other cultures and that - as Laszlo Gados writes in his pamphlet Brilu cxiu lingvo samrajte! - a rich culture is more important for the mother tongue than for a language whose role is that of inter-ethnic link.
Said in an article in the German EG-Magazin 10/1987.
Enciklopedio de Esperanto, p. 275.
This was the World Esperanto Congress in Dresden in 1908.
Rudolf Carnap, Mein Weg in die Philosophie, Stuttgart 1993, p. 107-108; English edition: Rudolf Carnap, Intellectual autobiography, in Paul Arthur Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap, La Salle, Ill./London 1963, p. 1-84.
William Auld, La fenomeno Esperanto, Rotterdam 1988, p. 79-80.
Walter Francini, Esperanto sen antauxjugxoj, Sao Paulo 1978, p. 95.
Ibid., p. 33.
Ibid., pp. 33, 89-105.
Joschka Fischer, Die Zukunft der auswärtigen Kulturpolitik, Berlin, 04.07.2000.
Dafydd ap Fergus, Tutmondigxo: Labori angle, Esperanto 11/2000, p. 188.
Umberto Eco, The search for the Perfect Language, Ch. 16.
Fischer Weltalmanach 2001, p. 236.
Umberto Eco, The search for the Perfect Language, Ch. 16.
Sermon during German/Esperanto Mass in Paffenhofen, Germany, on 25.11. 2000
Carlo Sarandrea, La Papo kaj Kosovo, Espero Katolika 3-4/1999.
Esperanto aktuell 1/1994, p. 4.
Sermon during the 81st World Esperanto Congress, Prague 1996, see
Benu 3/1996, p. 55.
Une langue internationale pour le monde et pour l'église, Lille 1979.
La Iglesia y el problema de la lengua auxiliar internacional, Barcelona 1980.
Pomocniczy jezyk miedzynarodowy w kosciele i swiecie wspó$lczesnym, Pozna$n 1984. Both the Italian original and the revised Polish edition were also translated in Esperanto (Rome 1976 and Warsaw 1986, op. cit.)
Armin Gmeiner Verlag, Meßkirch 1999.
Flandra Esperanto-Ligo, Antwerpen 2001.
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