Pro Multis and Ecclesia de Eucharistia

The Latin text of the Holy Father’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (EdE) became a battlefield in the pro multis wars being waged in the halls of the Holy See.  You might remember what happened.

In that encyclical the late Pope referred to the words of "institution" (that’s "consecration" for me and you).  He used, in the English, “for all” rather than “for many.”   This also appeared in the unofficial Latin of the encyclical at the time of its release.  "ARRRGGH", quoth I.  Then I got down to work to figure out what had happened.

In my WDTPRS columns I went through all the Scripture and showed also that, probably in their haste, the people in charge of the release of the encyclical had made mistakes in the Biblical citations. “Mt 14:24” should have been either Matthew 26:28 or Mark 14:24.

Can you believe that?  That shot red flags up the pole for me, I can tell you.  Something was very very fishy about this whole thing. 

If that wasn’t bad enought, the Latin version of the Encyclical, at the time of its first release said: “qui pro vobis funditur et pro omnibus in remissionem peccatorum” which changed the words of Scripture and thus the Mass formula!

Mind you, the citation was clearly a paraphrase of the account and not a direct quote: it was cited with a confer (“cf.” or “cfr”) reference, so they have an out.  However, that was in fact, in black on white, the text at the time of the public release of Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

But wait, there’s more.  The certified text of any papal document is always promulgated in the official monthly publication of the Holy See called Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS).  Very often, after big documents come out with a great bang and splash, some months later the real text is issued, and it is different ­- and no one knows it because no one reads the Latin anymore

When you look now at the official AAS text of the EdE 2 wherein the Pope supposedly changed pro multis to pro omnibus we find that a correction has been made (cf. AAS 95 – 7 July 2003  – p. 434).  The pro multis is back in its proper place, the errant Scripture citations are cleaned up, and the bad pro omnibus is not to be found.

Someone, God bless him, put the smack down on pro omnibus in EdE 2.  

A Polish colleague of mine verifies that on the Vatican’s website, the Polish version of EdE says “za wielu…for many” in the controverted spot. 

Draw your conclusions as you will, someone, if not Pope John Paul himself (or a future Pope), had the clout to get this changed.  Since this was clearly a DOCTRINAL issue, I wonder who else could have been involved.    Hmmmmm…..

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Andrew says:

    To this day we can read the following text on the Vatican website:

    “… qui pro vobis funditur et pro omnibus in remissionem peccatorum” (cfr Mc 14, 24; Lc 22, 20; 1 Cor 11, 25).”

    The address for the entire text is: (I am breaking this up because it might be too long to place here as one string: /holy_father/special_features/ encyclicals/documents/ hf_jp-ii_enc_ 20030417_ecclesia _eucharistia_lt.html

    Curiously, if you try simply to follow the link by way of “Holy Father – JPII – encyclicals – Latin”: you will not find it.

    I wonder who is in charge of posting encyclicals on the internet?

  2. Séamas says:


    Go to

    Handy future reference.

  3. Priest says:

    I was preaching today about the connection St. Paul made to the Ephesians between the Precious Blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins/trangressions. The good folks in being exhorted to confess mortal sins before the reception of Holy Communion heard CCC #1393: “The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is ‘given up for us,’ and the blood we drink ‘shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.'” It seems that our translators and bishops need to read the Catechism

  4. Right… and all the Eastern Catholics have “for many” in their English versions. What does it take?

  5. Daniel says:

    Dear Father Zulsdorf,

    I wonder if wirte via email if you will be in Rome from August 13th to August
    28th. If you are going to be there, could tell me where do you offer Mass?

    I will be there this period of August. Thank you very much.

  6. Daniel says:

    Sorry for the mistakes.

    I wonder if you could write me…..

    This is better.

  7. Norman says:

    Gee, lesser mortals like us don’t have access to AAS :)

  8. Norman: Right! Which, in a sense, makes this an even bigger problem. The fact is that the texts people are referring are often not the official texts.

  9. Andrew says:

    All mortals can order the AAS as a subscription. Each new issue will arrive in your mailbox. I’ve never had any problems on this side of the Atlantic. It’s good reading, too. I enjoy especially the stuff about the candidates to the sainthood, the biographies, the miracles, etc.

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