In the left-wing English The Tablet (June 24, 2006), there is an interesting bit about the “pro multis” issue. Emphasis mine:
“Turning down some proposals, the bishops noted the ‘expressed intention of the Holy See’ to decide in short order on the issue of ‘for many’ as opposed to ‘for all’ in the consecration. Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney and the chairman of Vox Clara – the Vatican body that oversees ICEL’s translations – welcomed the USCCB’s decision.”
I consider the pro multis issue to be the single most important translation issue.
Back in 2004 when I wrote my weekly columns about the Eucharistic Prayers, I lingered over the consecration of the Precious Blood in four articles. In those articles I exposed the bad philological arguments used to justity the bad translation "for all". To my knowledge no one had ever looked at it from that angle before. My old boss and still great friend, His Eminence Augustine Card. Mayer, one of the holiness men on earth, gave my articles to his close friend and colleague Joseph Card. Ratzinger. Soon thereafter I had a note from his Eminence (now His Holiness) about those articles. Also, I was able to write something up for a certain Prefect of a certain Congregation on this point. I also know some members of the Vox Clara group have read this stuff.
I am told that there is a massive war going on over this issue. Do you remember the debacle in the late Pope’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia? That, however, was part of the cause of dismissal of some prelates when the new Pope came onto the scene. But enough said about that.
We have to consider the following.
First, writing as Joseph Ratzinger the Pope himself confronted the pro multis question in God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life (Ignatius Press, 2003). He made three important points (pp. 37-8, n. 10): 1) Jesus died to save all and to deny that is not in any way a Christian attitude, 2) God lovingly leaves people free to reject salvation and some do, and 3):
“The fact that in Hebrew the expression ‘many’ would mean the same thing as ‘all’ is not relevant to the question under consideration inasmuch as it is a question of translating, not a Hebrew text here, but a Latin text (from the Roman Liturgy), which is directly related to a Greek text (the New Testament). The institution narratives in the New Testament are by no means simply a translation (still less, a mistaken translation) of Isaiah; rather, they constitute an independent source (emphasis added).
What Card. Ratzinger did here is cut loose the raft of emotion and conjecture lashed to the pier built by Lutheran scholar Joachim Jeremias, upon which ICEL justified rendering “for many” as “for all”. Remember that Jeremias (in the ThWNT) and then Fr. Max Zerwick, SJ (in Notitiae in 1970) used Aramaic and Isaiah 53 arguments for their change to “for all.” Whether Jeremias was right or wrong (and I think his argument was at best tenuous) is entirely beside the point now. POINT: We are not Protestants who approach doctrine from a standpoint of sola Scriptura … Scripture alone. POINT: We are not historical-critics when we approach the consecration of the Mass, we are believing Catholics. POINT: The Missale Romanum and the Tradition and teachings of the Church have their own value, a value not to be abandoned in the face of conjecture and the vagaries of historical-critical Scripture scholarship or the concerns of non-Catholics. POINT: The Missale Romanum is in Latin. This is a key point which every reader of WDTPRS must understand.
Second: The Pope is the only one who approves the translations of sacramental forms. We find this in the Holy See’s official instrument of promulgation, Acta Apostolicae Sedis for 28 February 1974 (AAS 66 (1974) 98-99). Here we find a circular letter dated 25 October 1973 over the signature of then Secretary of State Jean Card. Villot, countersigned by Archbp. Annibale Bugnini (my translation from the Latin): “The Supreme Pontiff reserves to himself the power of approving directly all translations into vernacular languages of the formulas of sacraments.”