Pope Benedict’s “pro multis” letter to German-speaking bishops now in English. Wherein an HONORED GUEST ranteth.

Here is a follow up to my post about the Holy Father’s letter of instruction to the German speaking bishops about the translation of “pro multis” in the new liturgical books.

An English translation of the Holy Father’s letter is now to be found on a Dutch blog, In caelo.

I enjoyed a commentary about this Ziegen Rodeo sent me by my friend the Roman Fabricius Magnus. Thus, Fabricius:

Needless to say, still not a sign of this on vatican.va,  not even in German. Argh.

I didn’t fall off the tuna boat yesterday but it still drives me crazy that the Pope has to explain these things that have been said a gazillion times before to bishops who should know better. I know what they think but they are pretending that the discussion just started an hour ago.

My letter would have been much shorter. On a day of exceptionally cheerful mood it could have been:

“Venerable Brothers in the fullness of the Priesthood, greetings and Apostolic Blessing! Because we all strive to be worthy successors of Peter and the Apostles after Pentecost and not of Judas during the days leading up to the Sacrifice of the Calvary, we are obliged under penalty of the eternal fire to serve the Lord in the Church he himself consecrated with his Most Precious Blood, shed for many in atonement for our sins. If you don’t like the new, correct translation of the formula of the consecration, you can always stick with the Latin original and use that for Mass, just as I do most of the time. If you like the old, incorrect and exegetically silly translation so very much, you can always apply for an indult which will be evaluated with the renown celerity of the Roman Curia and submitted to me the day after a sudden drop in temperatures occurs in a place whose existence should be affirmed more often by some of you, if anything as a reminder to self. In the meantime, it’s either Latin or “for many”. By the way, I have never before spent so much time and so many words discussing improvements whose implementation I had ordered a LOOOONG time ago. Venerable Brothers, get busy before I do my routine checks on vacant episcopal sees in North Korea, Iran and other places eager to learn the ways of inculturation and social justice from you. With Easter blessing, I remain in the Lord, Genghis PP I”

Thank God there’s a much much much much holier, wiser and more patient man in charge of this…

That, friends, is what the Romans call “papale papale”!

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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16 Responses to Pope Benedict’s “pro multis” letter to German-speaking bishops now in English. Wherein an HONORED GUEST ranteth.

  1. dnicoll says:

    They’d probably enjoy pandering to the daft schemes of the North Koreans too much. Give em something really tough. Any tiny Catholic dioceses near Mount Athos? Or a nice friendly island like Elba, or Sakhalin, or Rockall, or Lundy. Ok some of these will need upgrading to a diocese but nothing is impossible. Or do what the Roman Emperors did. Tell one of them he is the new titular Patriarch of Moscow. He can take up the role fully and actively just as soon as he can convine the current incumbent to retire and the parishioners and priests submit to Rome. oh, and until then, the new diocese won’t (of course) be in a position to house him and feed him and otherwise support him, so he’ll have to do a St Paul and earn from the strength of his own hands.

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    Priceless: “the day after a sudden drop in temperatures occurs in a place whose existence should be affirmed more often by some of you, if anything as a reminder to self.”

  3. dspecht says:

    [Cf. my comment to the original post of Fr. Z., here re-posted with minimal additions:]

    Benedict XVI explains to German bishops what the “pro multis” really says.
    Once again the Holy Father has offered good reflections on what the prayer really says.

    No, sorry, but he does/has not.

    As a commenter (R. John) on Rorate Caeli just said: The pope’s explanation only confused what the Catechism makes perfectly clear.

    And even worse, he does not only confuse it, but gives NOT at all the reason the Catechism Romanus gives (cf. quote of the Cat. above by Andrew).
    The Pope does not even mention this high-level magisterial text and his explanation.

    The Catechismus Romanus clearly says that the expression “pro multis” is appropriate for the Mass because NOT all men will be saved, will get the fruits of salvation. The Mass is the place where the fruits of the redemption are at stake, not the redemption in its objective, universal aspect.

    But the Pope did NOT teach this. He gave a totally different explanation – and omitted and/or confused the teaching of the Cat. Romanus (see his 3-fold explanation of the words in the text). So he did not teach what the words really mean, and for contrary, he suggested a very different reason for introducing the misstranslation than it really was as well as a different meaning of the words as they should be/are (resp. as they were interpreted traditionally by the magisterium)!

  4. BaedaBenedictus says:

    I don’t dispute the Pope’s profound explanations, but (as dspecht points out above) the most obvious and clearly expressible one was omitted. Quoting Trent would have been useful, but I suppose since the letter is trying to gently coax bishops who have been flagrantly defying an order from the Holy See on such a supremely important matter as the text of the Canon, the Pope is limited to appealing to the superdogma called Vatican II. After all, I doubt they’d take seriously any reference to that “outdated” Council of Trent.

    Certainly von Balthasar has a great influence in Rome, but I don’t think the Pope believes that hell may be empty.

  5. plemmen says:

    I smiled. I even giggled, with visions of red faced, supremely angry Bishops all over the world in apoplexy at the very idea! (Many would be looking longingly at the directory of the Episcopal Church or even the Lutherens …). Sadly, I have met too many who regard elevation to the Episcopate as a coronation and the formerly mild cleric becomes a veritable Ivan the Terrible to his clergy, Religious and lay folks in “his” diocese. Best to remember always the words of Thomas à Kempis: “O quam cito transit gloria mundi”.

  6. Legisperitus says:

    [pedantry] Except it would only be “Genghis PP.” The only Pope who appended a “I” was John Paul I, and that was only to clarify that he was neither John XXIV nor Paul VII. [/pedantry]

  7. Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    dspecht,

    Please give the actual quote from the Catechismus Romanus for our mutual benefit.

    Thanks so much.

    [I wrote about this stuff here YEARS ago. I’ll post the relevant passage below.]

  8. Son of Trypho says:

    I think alot of folks are coming down a little hard on HH Benedict XVI – he is attempting to remedy a disagreement amongst the German-language bishops through explanation in reasonable and clear language and basic catechesis and he requests that they provide some of this catechesis to their laity.

    His letter is influenced by that fact that HH Benedict XVI was a German bishop himself at one point and knows all of the characters involved quite well and is probably best qualified to judge what will be most effective with this particular situation.

    Scolding the Pope for not quoting the Canons of Trent etc strikes me as terribly hubristic to be honest.

    Reading some of the comments on the net on this I sometimes think people in the conservative/traddie camps seriously overestimate the authority of the Pope in these days/times and underestimate the difficulties that the disobedient, esp. bishops, can put in his way if they so choose.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Just have the Canon in Latin. Canon, from Fortescue, “Chiefly, and now universally in the West, it is the name for the Eucharistic prayer in the Holy Liturgy.” Just Latin would solve these problems.

  10. Pax--tecum says:

    Here in Holland the bishops also need a good letter from the Pope. They have been working on a new translation for years and it’s still not finished (I hope they don’t postpone it willfully). I hope they will fix the Canon in the new translation and use for many instead of for all.

  11. In answer to a request above:

    This is what the Roman Catechism says about the pro multis topic:

    But the words which are added for you and for many (pro vobis et pro multis), were taken some of them from Matthew (26: 28) and some from Luke (22: 20) which however Holy Church, instructed by the Spirit of God, joined together. They serve to make clear the fruit and the benefit of the Passion. For if we examine its value (virtutem), it will have to be admitted that Blood was poured out by the Savior for the salvation of all (pro omnium salute sanguinem a Salvatore effusum esse); but if we ponder the fruit which men (homines) will obtain from it, we easily understand that its benefit comes not to all, but only to many (non ad omnes, sed ad multos tantum eam utilitatem pervenisse). Therefore when He said pro vobis, He meant either those who were present, or those chosen (delectos) from the people of the Jews such as the disciples were, Judas excepted, with whom He was then speaking. But when He added pro multis He wanted that there be understood the rest of those chosen (electos) from the Jews or from the gentiles. Rightly therefore did it happen that for all (pro universis) were not said, since at this point the discourse was only about the fruits of the Passion which bears the fruit of salvation only for the elect (delectis). And this is what the words of the Apostle aim at: Christ was offered up once in order to remove the sins of many (ad multorum exhaurienda peccata Heb 9:28); and what according to John the Lord says: I pray for them; I do not pray for the world, but for those whom you gave to Me, for they are Yours (John 17:9). Many other mysteries (plurima mysteria) lie hidden in the words of this consecration, which pastors, God helping, will easily come to comprehend for themselves by constant meditation upon divine things and by diligent study. (My translation and emphasis. Part II, ch. 4 (264.7-265.14) from the Catechismus Romanus seu Catechsimus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini ad parochos …. Editio critica. Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1989, p. 250. Cf. The Catechism of the Council of Trent. Trans. John A. McHugh & Charles J. Callan. Joseph F. Wagner, Inc.: New York, 1934, pp. 227-28.)

  12. DisturbedMary says:

    Again I recall what Maria Agreda said in the Mystal City of God: the deepest anguish of Jesus during the Passion was knowing that there would be reprobates who would not avail themselves of what he was winning for all…

  13. robtbrown says:

    Son of Trypho says:

    I think alot of folks are coming down a little hard on HH Benedict XVI – he is attempting to remedy a disagreement amongst the German-language bishops through explanation in reasonable and clear language and basic catechesis and he requests that they provide some of this catechesis to their laity.

    His letter is influenced by that fact that HH Benedict XVI was a German bishop himself at one point and knows all of the characters involved quite well and is probably best qualified to judge what will be most effective with this particular situation.

    Mostly, I agree. The Episcopacy in Germany is populated by men with doctorates in theology, almost all of whom have been professors. Most of them have been educated by an eclectic approach to theology that has been synthesized by German philosophy (read: Hegel and sons) and the Historical-Critical Method. This HCM, especially in its earlier conclusions, has often been influenced by Protestant a priori concepts (themselves influenced by Hegelianism) that were usually well hidden within the research. This was a constant concern of Cardinal Ratzinger and, IMHO, explains BXVI’s distinction between interpretation and translation and his reference to the “shattered” exegesis of pro multis that has given to justify the use of “for all”.

  14. dspecht says:

    Thank´s Fr. Z. for the total quote.

    And here it becomes clear:
    The C.R. teaches, that “many” is choosen very rightfully by the Lord and that it is a well-intended contrast to “all”. “Many” denotes that NOT all are effectively saved. So “many” is a restriction/constriction to those that are effectively saved (subjective level), whilst “all” denotes the value of redemption (the objective level).

    But the Pope for contrary states, that “many” should not be seen in a restrictive/constricitve way, but only as a concretisation of the general “all”.

    quotes of the Pope´s letter:“As we have said before, that the “for you” in the Lucan-Pauline tradition does not constrict, but rather specifies,…”
    “All” exists on the ontological level – the being and action of Jesus includes all of mankind, past, present and future. But factually, in the concrete community of those who celebrate the Eucharist, it involves only “many”.
    [etc. – cf. the letter!]

    This explanation directly contradicts what the C.R. tells us. The C.R. says that “for you” means the congregation gathered here, but “for many” means all the elected, all men that will go to heaven – as a restriction of “all”, who will not all go to heaven.

    Certainly von Balthasar has a great influence in Rome, but I don’t think the Pope believes that hell may be empty. (BaedaBenedictus)

    – I would not be that sure. Or well, His Holiness seems to believe that at least Judas is not saved (if you read his Jesus-book) (in contrast to his predecessor, who doubted that Judas were in hell in his book “Die Schwelle der Hoffnung überschreiten”), but he seems overly optimistic that nearly nobody goes to hell, nearly all will be effectively saved, perhaps all except of Judas.

    His own interpretation (cf. the 2. vol. of his Jesus-book and the Seewald-interview Licht der Welt) of his new formulated Good-Friday prayer for the Old Mass – extraordinary form – for the Jews indicates this. (As did the interpretation of Card. Kasper in the FAZ right after the new-formulation of the prayer)

  15. Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Thank you Fr. Z. for the quote. That was very kind of you to go through the trouble. It was as I remembered it.

    I would susepect, however, that the point of the text is that human cooperation is necessary for salvation and (obviously) not all cooperate. Whether this was meant as to define as doctrine that there is at least somebody in hell, seems unlikely as no protestant group of any significance at the time CR was written held such a position. Although nearly all denied the necessity of human cooperation. That was the hot button issue.

    I might also add that I don’t think hell is empty. And I don’t think I have anything else to say on this; people are free to read this text as they will.

  16. Imrahil says:

    I might mention (lest it should be forgotten) that the empty-hell-doctrine and the nearly-empty-hell-doctrine are totally different things. The first one seems, to me, inconsistent with Scripture and a condemnation (No. 17) in the Syllabus Errorum (nor has the Magisterium afterwards abrogated this specific condemnation). The second can be held by a Christian unproblematically (if we do not presume that the “many condemned” the Bible speaks of refer to a statistical proportion), and I very much hope it is true (which I don’t know).