Overdue: catechesis concerning “pro multis”

I found this important entry over at the blog of His Hermeueticalness, the great Fr. Finigan:

Over three years ago, I reported on a letter of the congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated 17 October 2006, concerning the words pro multis ("for many") in the words for the consecration of the the chalice at Mass.

The letter states that there is no doubt about the validity of Masses in which the phrase "pro multis" is translated "for all" and that it is a dogma of faith that Christ died on the Cross for all men and women. However, it notes several arguments in favour of an accurate translation of "pro multis" and concludes that the phrase should be properly translated in the future.

The other day, a priest friend pointed out to me that there was a timespan included in the letter:

The Bishops’ Conferences of those countries where the formula "for all" or its equivalent is currently in use are therefore requested to undertake the necessary catechesis for the faithful on this matter in the next one or two years to prepare them for the introduction of a precise vernacular translation of the formula pro multis (e.g, "for many", "per molti", etc.) in the next translation of the Roman Missal that the Bishops and the Holy See will approve for use in their country.

Did you notice any catechesis on this matter in your country in the one or two years to October 2008? We are, of course, still waiting for the next translation of the Roman Missal into English, and are likely to be waiting for some time to come.

Is it is now time to start saying "for many"? There wasn’t any significant delay or insuperable problem when we were peremptorily told to say "for all" instead of "for all men."


Fr. Finigan does us a great service in bringing this point back to our minds.

Therefore, you priests who are reading this… don’t wait for conferences to make a move.  Start your catechesis.

Therefore, you bishops whe are reading this… don’t wait for conferences to make a move.  Start your catechesis.

Therefore, conferences of bishops…  what’s going on?  Should be be left to the abovementioned.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. rotaa says:

    I agree that catechesis should begin on this topic, and indeed the USCCB does have materials on its website explaining the change which will go into effect once the translation is approved.

    However, I disagree that “it is now time to start saying ‘for many.'” In the 2006 Newsletter from the USCCB, answering this very question, they state “Absolutely no changes may be made until the new translation of the Roman Missal has been approved by the Bishops and confirmed by the Holy See.”

  2. TNCath says:

    I agree with rotaa regarding catechesis as well as for waiting for official permission to use the term “for many” as the final draft has not been confirmed by the Holy See.

    I did think it interesting, however, that the translation “for many” was retained for “pro multis.” I would have thought that “pro multis” might have been translated as “for the many.”

  3. Richard says:

    It is important to make this change in the translation – it brings the RC in line with the authorized King James Version of the Bible. Another way to look at it , despite the comments that “it is a dogma of faith that Christ died on the Cross for all men and women. However, it notes several arguments in favour of an accurate translation of “pro multis” and concludes that the phrase should be properly translated in the future”, is that God died for many whom He has already identified, i.e., “predestined”, for salvation. Not what I was taught, but then my teachers were Jesuits.

  4. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    I have already mentioned it a few times and will continue to.

  5. Athelstan says:

    Perhaps some still hope, a al Bishop Trautman, that the thing can still be changed or sidetracked.

  6. chironomo says:


    It seems that Fr. Finegan is asking a question: Is it now time to start saying “for many”?

    I understand this as him asking of the Bishops…”What are we supposed to do? We need to hear from you on this!”. He then makes the analogy to the change from “for all men” to “for all” which was initiated immediately.

    I don’t understand his comment as meaning that he advocates that we start using “for many” immediately, but rather that we need some instruction (catechesis) on what to do.

  7. Tom in NY says:

    Cf. Greek texts for Mt. 26:28 and Mk. 14:24, both “hyper pollon”. No sign of “pan” (all) or its forms. Vulgate for both is “pro multis.” Tyndale, who influenced AV committee has “for many.” AV followed its pathfinders in Greek, Latin and English to “for many.” And your NAB has “for many” at both citations. Therefore, it appears to me it’s safe to conclude that the USCCB has translated its Bible “for many.”
    Citations: http://www.katapi.org.uk; http://www.vatican.va;http://www.wesley.nnu.edu;http://www.usccb.org
    Salutationes omnibus.

  8. Tom in NY says:

    Addendum: I use http://www.bartleby.com for AV.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  9. quietbeginning says:

    Pro multis?
    There’s just no escaping the fact that things condemned prior to VII suddenly acquired legitimacy after it. Let’s focus on the key actor (I know, I know) here, John Paul II. JPII taught and practiced a type of ecumenism that was condemned by Pope Pius XI (Mortalium Animos). Specifically, and most egregiously, JPII recognized the false gods of the pagans he invited to his prayer services at Assisi. He provided–and encouraged–them with a room set aside for them to worship their false gods. Holy Mother Church teaches that to do this is to sin against the 1st commandment. There have been some rotten popes, but nothing like this has ever happened before. JPII taught that all Christians are to be saved: “In proclaiming the Risen Lord, Christians present the One who inaugurates a new era of history and announce to the world the good news of a complete and universal salvation…at the beginning of a new millennium marked by a clearer awareness of the universality of salvation…” (Address of JPII to the Bishops of the Philippines on Their Ad Limina Visit, Oct. 30, 2003). Yet, Pope Pius II condemned the assertion teaching that all Christians are to be saved (Denziger No. 717). Jesus Himself taught this (Mt 7:21-24). Here’s more from JPII: “From the death of Christ new life flowers, memory and message of an undying hope: universal salvation” (Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum, In the Presence of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, Good Friday 2002).
    Pro multis?
    (And while we’re at it, sainthood?)

  10. Father Z.,

    I have posted about this on my blog a few times, but I am a little confused – and maybe others can help out:

    Can a priest in the US Dioceses choose to say the english words “for many?” Or does the accepted translation literally say “for all” and therefore limits the priest from using the proper translation?

    I am just curious if some priests could slowly work it “into” the Mass… but using it once and a while and then commenting?

  11. q7swallows says:

    We got catechesis from the pulpit immediately (in the sticks of the northern diocese of LA) the correct translation and have been hearing it ever since (at the N.O.’s). It is a welcome change.  

    No big deal . . . and no tantrums, squeals, or rumbles.    

  12. mfg says:

    God created the world in seven days. What’s the holdup on pro multis. All that is needed is a 3-minute explanation from the pulpit. Oops, forgot they don’t have pulpits anymore, do they? Just say it!

  13. kenoshacath says:

    Mums the word on pro multis here in the Novus Ordo churches too. Fortunately though, we have the TLM, albeit only monthly at present. You won’t find that problem at the TLM Mass. Ah, how refreshing!

  14. James Locke says:

    WOW i never had heard of this. This is great! I have had no such Catechesis here at the University of Dallas

  15. jbas says:

    Practically speaking, I really do not think it is reasonable to expect to us begin serious catechesis in preparation for any of the more accurate Mass translations until there is a date, or at least a year, set to begin using them.

  16. Here in the Philippines, we have the following catecheses:

    1. How to vote properly for next year’s general elections
    2. How to protect the environment


    3. How to make the Mass “more lively” aka liturgical inculturation.

    Pro multis?

    What we have here are bishops who are pro-environment, pro-life, pro-liturgical creativity and pro-political activism. Nothing of that sort of “pro”


  17. catholicmidwest says:

    Yikes, Richard. That’s Calvinism. I’m pretty sure that’s not the motivation for translating the phrase as “for many” instead of “for all.”

    I may be wrong (somebody correct me if I am), but I think the translation “for all” implies that universal salvation is the case, which the Catholic Church has never taught, whereas the translation “for many” implies the Church’s real teaching, which is that all are offered salvation but only some take up the invitation.

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    Athelstan, you said, “Perhaps some still hope, a al Bishop Trautman, that the thing (meaning the translation of this phrase) can still be changed or sidetracked.”

    And I’m sure that is the case. There will be some priests, I think, who will just keep “forgetting” to change “that word.” It’s too bad, really, but I don’t think it’s realistic to think that we’re suddenly going to pop into a state of perfect complaince with the text after all these years of silliness. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I will be.

    The dissenters, both priestly & lay, will eventually get as tired as they are perplexed, though. Generally, the bulk of Catholic laypeople are earnest and well-meaning, even if not very well educated anymore. Their stubborn earnestness has tried the patience of the dissenters for years and on this issue there is no reason to think that the case will be different.

    Really, in a way both the bulk of Catholic laypeople and the many quiet & practical priests that hung around through the last 40 years are the heroes of the post V2 fiasco. The situation will come around in time. The Church will always be here and she will always teach the same truths, somewhere, somehow.

  19. Tom in NY says:

    Test post

    ???? ??????

    Pro multis
    Salutationes omnibus

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