Daily Archives: 28 October 2006

2nd Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

We continue our Patristic Rosary Project today with the: 2nd Glorious Mystery: The Ascension Everything about the life of the Lord is a blessing for us.  After His resurrection the Lord blessed the Apostles with His presence, gloriously risen.  When … Read More

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Articles on “pro multis”

In 2004 I wrote several articles in The Wanderer about the "pro multis" controversy.  I have posted them for your convenience. The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 8: “Simili modo” The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – … Read More


The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 8: “Simili modo”

What has the liturgy of the Mass actually had in the past? We get “pro vobis et pro multis … for you and for many” in the formula of consecration from a blending of the accounts in Mark 14:24 (translated from Greek: “this is my blood of the covenant (diatheke) shed for many (tò peri pollôn)”) and Matthew 26:28 also says “for many” together with Luke 22:20 (translated from Greek: “Likewise also the cup, after the supper, saying ‘This cup is the new covenant (diatheke) in my Blood which will be poured out for you.’” The choice to do this had theological significance. Our patristic sources, such as the writings of the 4th c Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose of Milan when describing the words of consecration in the Eucharistic liturgy, have pro multis and not pro omnibus, etc. The liturgical formulas were from Scripture.

The 4th c. Doctor of the Church St. Jerome, who translated from Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin giving us a Bible translation called the Vulgata, chose to use pro multis when translating the Greek tò peri pollôn (genitive plural of polus) in describing Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. In Greek polus means “many” or “much” or even “most” as in the majority: it does not mean “all”. In the ancient Church, no one said “for all” instead of “for many”. In the Greek Gospel accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus uses a form polus “many”. The liturgical rites of the East retained a form of polus. The rites of the Latin West have ever used pro multis. Read More


The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 10: “Simili modo” part 2

Looking at the same verses mentioned in the Catechism of the Council of Trent Jeremias, clearly having an axe to grind against someone, says of the “exclusive” use of polloí:

“This is the question whether the broad interpretation of polloí corresponds to the original sense of Mk. 10:45; 14:24 or whether we have here a secondary and more comprehensive understanding designed to avoid the offence of a restriction of the scope of the atoning work of Jesus to ‘many’” (pp. 543-44).

The foundation for our present translation was Jeremias’ rereading of Scripture so as to avoid the offense in Catholic doctrine. Also, since Catholics know what the Church teaches, it will be okay adopt “for all”. We will have to continue with Jeremias’ argument next week. And yes, readers, the WDTPRS version of the consecration of the chalice will be coming soon. Read More


The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 10: “Simili modo” part 3

Was this obscuring compromise worth it for ecumenical reasons? I have no idea and I will leave that to my betters. However, to my mind this is an age when we need greater clarity not more nuances, a stronger sense of our Catholic faith and not something fuzzy. I do not think that ecumenical dialogue, as desirable as it can be when it is authentic, benefits from Catholics blurring their own teaching about how the fruits of the Lord Jesus’ Sacrifice will only be accepted by many even though He gave Himself up for all. By saying “for many” the Church does not teach that God cannot and does not save non-Catholics through the merits of the Lord’s Sacrifice! But, even if the number of the many who accept the fruits is beyond the reckoning of man, it is not going to be the “totality”, all of mankind, everyone who ever lived. If counting the elect is impossible for us, that mysterious number will not be beyond God who knew it before Creation. The Church taught clearly what this meant in a time of great upheaval and theological revolution. This teaching has been formally upheld in recent years. It is not in our best interests as a “Church in the modern world” to leave “for all” as the translation for pro multis. We must return to “for many” and then teach, teach, teach…and embrace in charitable dialog all who will wonder what we mean or will seek to say we are wrong. Read More


The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 12: “Simili modo” part 4

His Eminence Joseph Card. Ratzinger confronts this in God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life (Ignatius Press, 2003). His Eminence makes three 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”.

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 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. First, we are not Protestants who approach doctrine from a standpoint of sola Scriptura … Scripture alone. Second, we are not historical-critics when we approach the consecration of the Mass, we are believing Catholics. Third, 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. Fourth, the Missale Romanum is in Latin. This is a key point which every reader of WDTPRS must understand. Read More


About “pro multis”

Since another blog has decided (perhaps imprudently) to publish something on it, and since it is already commented on by participants in this blog (for good or ill), here goes. Three different well-placed sources I trust in Congregations here in … Read More