CWN reports on the “pro multis” victory

You have read the news from CWN about the pro multis decision.  I reported this a long while back, but it is nice to have additional confirmation… this time from His Eminence Card. Arinze himself. 

I have no words to express my joy about this.  We also know that the battle will now be waged in the open by some bishops and liturgists who will completely freak out.

Here is the CWN piece.  If you don’t subscribe to CWN, btw, you ought to.  That is something worth supporting.  My emphasis added and comments.

Pro multis means "for many," Vatican rules 

Vatican, Nov. 18 ( – The Vatican has ruled that the phrase pro multis should be rendered as "for many" in all new translations of the Eucharistic Prayer, CWN has learned.

Although "for many" is the literal translation of the Latin phrase, the translations currently in use [Not all of them.] render the phrase as "for all." Equivalent translations (für alle; por todos; per tutti) are in use in several other languages.  [Remarkably, the French got it right with "pour la multitude".]

Cardinal Francis Arinze (bionews), the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has written to the heads of world’s episcopal conferences, informing them of the Vatican decision. [Let the battle be joined!] For the countries where a change in translation will be required, the cardinal’s letter directs the bishops to prepare for the introduction of a new translation of the phrase in approved liturgical texts "in the next one or two years."

The translation of pro multis has been the subject of considerable debate because of the serious theological issues involved. The phrase occurs when the priest consecrates the wine, saying (in the current translation):

…It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.

The Latin version of the Missal, which sets the norm for the Roman liturgy, says:

…qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum.

Critics of the current translation [hmmm…. who could he be talking about?] have argued, since it first appeared, that rendering pro multis as "for all" not only distorts the meaning of the Latin original, but also conveys the impression that all men are saved, regardless of their relationship with Christ and his Church. The more natural translation, "for many," more accurately suggests that while Christ’s redemptive suffering makes salvation available to all, it does not follow that all men are saved. 

Cardinal Arinze, in his letter to the presidents of episcopal conferences, explains the reasons for the Vatican’s decision to require

  • The Synoptic Gospels (Mt 26,28; Mk 14,24) make specific reference to “many” for whom the Lord is offering the Sacrifice, and this wording has been emphasized by some biblical scholars in connection with the words of the prophet Isaiah (53, 11-12). It would have been entirely possible in the Gospel texts to have said “for all” (for example, cf. Luke 12,41); instead, the formula given in the institution narrative is “for many”, and the words have been faithfully translated thus in most modern biblical versions.
  • The Roman Rite in Latin has always said pro multis and never pro omnibus in the consecration of the chalice. [This is precisely what I pointed out to His Eminence during a meeting last year when I surprised him with the citation from the Roman Catechism explaining that the Church cannot say "pro omnibus".]
  • The anaphoras of the various Oriental Rites, whether in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, the Slavic languages, etc., contain the verbal equivalent of the Latin pro multis in their respective languages.  [This was another critical point.]
  • “For many” is a faithful translation of pro multis, whereas “for all” is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis. [EXACTLY!!!.]
  • The expression “for many”, while remaining open to the inclusion of each human person, is reflective also of the fact that this salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one’s willing or participation; rather, the believer is invited to accept in faith the gift that is being offered and to receive the supernatural life that is given to those who participate in this mystery, living it out in their lives as well so as to be numbered among the “many” to whom the text refers.
  • In line with the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam, effort should be made to be more faithful to the Latin texts in the typical editions. [The decisive argument is that the liturgical text constitutes its own valid theological source.]

The points enunciated by His Eminence are exactly what I have been hammering in WDTPRS for years now.

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  1. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    The radical dissident liturgists, particularly in the USA (Bishop Trautman et al) will be furious. All the rad femminist nuns who seem to run the liturgical show in many parishes (including mine) will likewise be throwing fits.
    But more than anything else, this decision I think will do a good deal of harm to ecumenical/inter-religious dialog which perhaps is a very good thing.
    Over the last 40 years, the Catholic Church has slowly metamorphosized (at least by liturgical appearance) into something more akin to Anglicanism, that to traditional Roman Catholicism as we know it. Much of the “Novus Ordo” Mass is copied from the Protestant tradition (the most visible example is the table-like altars with the oruest facing the people).
    It is good to see the slowly,(perhaps too slowly), the Catholic Church is returning more to traditional expressions of Catholicism….this new mandated definitive translation of “pro multis”= “for many” being one of them.

  2. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    Of course in my comment above I meant “priest” facing the people. Sorry. English is not my first language anyway !!!

  3. Fr Peter says:

    A note from the orthodox world. In the Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church at the time of the consecration we use the following words “Drink of this all of you! This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins!” Seems we are in line with the correct translation. Although, during the elevation on the gifts we say, “We offer you your own of your own, in behalf of all and for all.”
    The English translation that we use is taken from the Romanian translation of the Liturgy. I think this is very interesting.

  4. Fr. Peter: Thanks for that comment. During my long pow-wow with Card. Arinze I said that I had consulted priests of different Eastern Catholic Churches about the English translation of their words of consecration. They all, all, said that they have “for many”. That got his attention as well.

    This was a no brainer.

  5. Diane says:

    Deo Gratias!

    Do we dare hope that “consubstantial” will be next?

  6. Fr. Z:

    It seems it will be translated precisely, “for many,” as opposed to “for the many” or “for the multitudes.” Is that your understanding from the letter? Or is some further refinement still possible? As I recall, you yourself argued for, “for the multitudes” or something of that sort, to express that “the many” is a great number.

    My other question is, when may I start?

  7. Fr. Bartoloma says:

    So many things are signaling a new direction. I thought that the “response in the negative” to the renewing of the indult for lay persons to purify the vessels was a big deal. But this is huge! By the way, Diane: great use of the phrase “dare we hope” in the context of everything being discussed.

  8. Siobhan says:

    Being a part of that very small minority that speaks neo-Aramaic, I have tried for years to explain that the Aramaic does not mean “for all” but rather “for many many” — and I have always experienced that usual “superiority” that only a Roman liberal (read: universalist) can exude with some variation on “Poor Maronite, you don’t even know what your own language means.” If one wants to know what the Aramaic means ask a Maronite or a Chaldean. But the real point is that “pro multis” means what it has always meant in Latin and theologically in the Roman rite.

  9. Augustinus says:

    As I have said elsewhere []

    I suppose we will have to listen to the excuse that we have to wait till the new translations for the rest of the Mass are published (2008 at the soonest?) before the change will be made – though there is no practical reason why it cannot be made now. After all, the change from ‘for all men’ to ‘for all’ was made with almost indecent haste – but I guess that’s a different matter.

    This time the liberals will procrastinate as much as they can.

  10. Guy Power says:


    I note this will not affect the Japanese-language Mass as it states, “…anatagata
    to ooku no hito no tame ni….” [you-all and many people]. Way to go, Japan!

    Now … if you can convince the Japanese bishops to allow communion on the tongue!


  11. Fr Gregoire Fluet says:

    Fr Fox asks the very question I have: when may we start using “many”? Because I have a feeling that the delaying tactics for the new translation will now increase, were that possible…and as to our friends, the radical liturgical reformers, in the words of my young friends “they are going to freak…”

  12. David Cheney says:

    I doubt its related, but I did notice that the USCCB did _not_ take up the issue of the remainder of the Sacramentary last week. Which means at least another 6 month delay before that is ready for Rome’s review.

  13. Jon says:

    Father Fox,

    When I attend the Novus Ordo, which is only during the week, I use the responses from the new translation. Not loudly, mind you, but very softly. Attending the TLM exclusively on Sundays for nearly two years now, I can no longer utter the paraphrase and sometimes outright falsehood that is the “lame-duck” translation. Knowing what the prayer REALLY means, and using the current translation was just too mentally conflicting. I tried Latin for a while, but even replying sotto voce seemed a little too “in your face.” I might have to take a few lumps in Purgatory over my disobedience, but so be it.

    In the meantime, to answer your question about when you may use “many,” well, I’ll have my friend Davy Farragut give you a ring ;^)

    PS – For any of you who haven’t seen it in a while, here’s a link to the new translation:

    The only changes I’m aware of in the version currently awaiting approval in Rome from the version I’ve provided are:

    1. “for many,” instead of “for all”
    2. The “Sursum corda” I believe will stay as it is now, the only thing differing being the end, where we’ll say “It is right and just.”

    Other than these, and of course any changes Rome might make, the link I’ve provided is what we’ll be getting. Father Z might know differently.

  14. Adam van der Meer says:

    Jon: I don’t think that that is the final draft that was sent to Rome. One example of why not is that the word “calix” is translated as “cup”, while in the draft sent to Rome it was translated “chalice”. That must be an earlier draft.

    I would advise against using whatever responses one thinks are correct at the Mass instead of the ones in the duly-approved liturgical books. And to do it knowing that it might add to your time in Purgatory! Do you mean to say that sin is OK, when we declare it so? I think the Holy Father might have something to say about that!

    We get so irritated when priests choose to depart from what is in the books, but then we justify doing it ourselves. Being obedient to the Church’s official texts for as long as they are binding is indeed a death to self, which merits grace to help one to grow in sanctity. Why not be obedient and offer the graces merited for the Holy Father, so that he can lead the Church faithfully through these perilous times, rather than just doing what you think is right?

  15. This is, literally, some of the best news I’ve had all week.

  16. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    Thank you, Guy Power. Yes, that is one thing the Japanese bishops and liturgists did get correctly.
    Unfortunatly, they also have been starting to allow some more perculair abuses into the liturgy of late which is unfortunate. Little things. But then again, all the abuses started as little things and snowballed into the dias into the disaster the Novus Ordo is today.
    I often wonder (maybe it was weakness on parts of the Pope and Vatican at the time (1970’s-1980’s), but why did they say “yes” to so many requests for special indults (lay people cleaning sacred vessels), in the first place.
    These things maybe we would not have to be going thru, if like Pope Benedict XVI past Popes has said “NO” in the first place.
    Although I

  17. Pingback: Vigilate et Orate

  18. Mike says:

    Why so long for the change? Why not three weeks to implement? Email
    Zman’s brief to all the clerics (week one), digest (week two) and hammer it home to us simpletons in a pastoral manner (week three).

    Since the US bishops are down-sizing I recommend they institute the
    position of secretary-general to manage the process and institute
    this and the other reforms coming down the pike. I believe Mr. Rumsfeld might now be available for the position.


  19. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    I believe you must wait until the appropriate authority (the diocesan bishop) promulgates the new translation.I am pretty certain they will notify priests not to jump the gun and be patient.But it is stange ,is it not,as one of you perceptively pointed out,that the dropping of “men”was authorized for immediate use.Now all the fuss over “men” could have been avoided and they would have translated it correctly from the start-“for the many”. Kenjiro hits the bullseye.If Rome would not allow so many indults they would stop most of the crazy things that develop from them.Remember that Rome said No to the American Bishops when they asked for an indult allowing communion under both species on Sunday.So they asked againm and were told no.So they asked again and got it. Its like the indult for communion in the hand (we forget it is an indult which has to be regularly asked for).When the world’s bishops were asked if it should be ,they said No.When asked if after proper catechesis it could be introduced,the bishops said No. So they allowed it if the national conferences thought it was needed and asked for it (they caould not tell Holland to stop it).Read the document allowing communion in the hand and you will be surprised-it does not allow it.Indeed it predicts what would happen if it were introduced.Every one of the predictions has come true.Yet Rome gradually folded and now communion in the hand ,while still only allowed by indult,is the norm.Maybe now the liturgy will be calmed by having Holy Mother Church do what regular mothers do—-say No.

  20. Boko says:

    Will any of our bishops have the fortitude to mandate the change immediately, or even our few good bishops allow themselves and their flocks to be held hostage to “collegiality” and “community” by waiting upon the USCCB?

  21. Boko: You know that bishops are also bound to follow laws, right?

  22. Boko says:

    What is the law? The change is to be implemented in one or two years, right? Must an individual bishop, who wishes his priests to make the change effective immediately, wait for the new liturgical books to come out? Are the bishops going to make the change individually, so that some dioceses will do it earlier than others? Is there a law saying the change can’t be made next week?

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