An important point about “pro multis”

When I wrote my WDTPRS articles on the Roman Canon, I had to dig deeply into the pro multis question.  I did four articles on the formula of consecration of the Precious Blood.

Here is an excerpt from one of those articles:

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” (emphasis added).

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.   

Translation of the Missale Romanum is not translation of Sacred Scriptures.  The Missale constitutes its own source and must be respected as such.


Furthermore, this is a done deal.  His Holiness has made his decision.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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