A kind reader alerted me to a story which will be in tomorrow’s number of the Italian weekly Panorama. This item by Ignazio Ingrao was previewed on Dagospia.
This very much concerns important work we did with WDTPRS a few years back, namely examination of the infamous pro multis question, and the proper translation of sacramental forms.
The present official translation of pro multis in the formula of consecration of the most Precious Blood, in English is wrong. It is presently "for all" and it should be "for many – for the many – for the multitude" (Spanish “por todos los hombres”, Italian "per tutti", French is actually good, "pour la multitude”, the German "für alle", Portugese "por todos" Slovak "za vsetkych”, Hungarian "sokakert", Polish "za wielu", etc., and all the Eastern Catholics translate their form as "for many" or something similar).
Frankly, its a mess right now.
And NO! – saying "for all" (in a vernacular Mass) does NOT make the consecration invalid and those who say it does are dead wrong. Period.
For years a debate raged, a war, about the translation of pro multis in various languages. WDTPRS played a strong part in the deep in fighting, where the elbows are sharp.
To make long story of sweat and intrigue short, eventually Francis Card. Arinze, Prefect of the CDW sent out to all Bishops Conferences one of the happiest letters ever issued by the Holy See: Prot. n. 467/05/L of 17 October 2006. Card. Arinze told all the bishops in the world that His Holiness wanted pro multis to be translation correctly, in some form like "for many, for the many" and so forth. Furthermore, this was not the decision of either the CDWDS or the CDF. This was the Pope’s decision. There is no appeal.
The Holy Father reserves to himself the approval of translations of sacramental forms (AAS 66 (1974) 98-99 – a circular letter dated 25 October 1973). Remember that all the sacraments have both matter and form, the form being the words spoken in the conferring or confecting of the sacrament.
However, lots of people whined and whinged about this.
I am sure it has been very difficult to secure some agreement on the best way to do this in English as well as all the other languages through the whole world that need to be adjusted.
Now we read this very significant bit (my emphases and comments):
Benedict changes the Mass again – a study of the new liturgy entrusted to the Congregation for Divine Worship
The Rite of Mass could change. According to some leaks, Benedict XVI has give the Congregation for Divine Worship the task of studying some modifications in the liturgy. In particular, it is said the Pope intends to reinstate the Latin for the formula of the Eucharistic consecration in Mass in the vernacular, i.e., the one celebrated in different national languages. [This means that in Masses in English, Italian etc., when the priest would get to the two fold consecration, he would switch to LATIN.] The same thing could happen for the [sacramental] formulas of baptism, confirmation, confession and the other sacraments. In addition the sign of peace among the faithful during Mass, which today takes place before the distribution of the Eucharist, could be moved forward (as in the Ambrosian rite) to the offertory in order so as not to disturb the recollection before Communion. [This is something Papa Ratzinger wrote about in one of his books, I forget which. But honestly, this leaves me a little troubled. Let's leave the Ambrosian Rite aside, the Sign of Peace has had its proper place in the Roman Rite since the early Church. I would rather have it moved to before the Offertory if it is going to remain a group grope. But I would much rather leave it in its traditional place and then do it right, which might mean not inviting the congregation to do anything. That's the way I prefer, and say, the Novus Ordo. Since the invitation to the Sign of Peace is an option left to the priest, I opt not to make the invitation.]
These modifications would be joined to the changes to the liturgy and sacred vestments which the Pope, together with his Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, has accomplished in these last few months, in order to recover ancient traditions: the restoration of the Crucifix at the center of the altar, the distribution of Communion to the faithful on the tongue while kneeling, [though non of these things are changes to the liturgy as such, they are changes in practice] the retrieval of the pastoral staff of Pius IX (the ferula), the alteration of the shape of pallium (the strip of white wool with red crosses worn by the Pope), the restoration of the papal throne used in a consistory and the celebration of Mass with the back to the assembly, as happened in January in the Sistine Chapel.
I amuse myself to think about all the fussbudgeting bishops in certain conferences, pushing one eerie objection to "for many" after another, dragging feet, advocating resistance to the Holy See’s translation norms, etc, now being informed by the Holy See that, basically, "Since you can’t decide what words to go with, Papa says ‘Do it in Latin, if you can’t get your act together.’"
Worse than saying "for many" certainly must be to have to say it in… in… gulp… that other language!
Seriously, I think if this is all true, and it really sounds like this could be a possibility, the problems of rendering certain things into the vernacular are simply not worth the risk of loss of content.
But that really begs a few answers, doesn’t it?
If this is so for the consecration, admittedly the most important part of the Eucharistic Prayer, there are lots of other important things being said in Holy Mass too! Why not have those in Latin too?
If some liturgists and theologians like to argue that the whole Eucharistic Prayer is consecratory, and not just the "magic words" in the "institution narrative", then perhaps we had better do the whole Prayer in Latin. Right?
And since the Preface is now considered part of the Eucharististic Prayer, and since the people speak part of that dialogue, should pastors of souls start teaching their people Latin responses that pertain to them?
But.. no wait. That is already the responsibility of pastors, isn’t it? Yes… I believe I read that somewhere.
Folks, the vernacular is here to stay for the near and perhaps far future.
But shouldn’t it be used along the lines that the Second Vatican Council actually mandated rather than what we actually got?
It can be useful … in some occasions … for some parts of Mass, perhaps with children in the liturgy of the word or for catechumens.
It is all about the content.
It’s all about what the prayer really says.