ASK FATHER: Priest says “for all” rather than “for many”

From a reader…


Can a priest change the words”for many “ to “for all?” The priest said it’s optional.

No. A priest may not by his own authority change the liturgical texts. That would be a liturgical abuse. The priest does NOT have the option to do that.

Furthermore, “for all” is precisely what the Latin “pro multis” does not mean.  “For all” is precisely what the Church has officially taught for centuries that should not be said.

And this liturgical abuse is graver than others by the fact that it concerns the form of the sacrament, the words of consecration of the Precious Blood.

Since it seems that you have already spoken to the priest about it, you should get a recording of the priest saying this and send it to the local bishop. If that does not produce results, send it to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.

What that priest is doing does not invalidate the consecration, but it is still a big deal.

The Church, much less an individual priest or bishop or Pope, cannot blithely change the language of the text, which has an official Latin foundation, from pro multis to pro universis (for all). That would explicitly contradict the Church’s teaching as expressed in Latin by the Council of Trent (cf. Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part II, 4). Such a change would contradict doctrine and not simply change emphasis about an aspect of that doctrine. The English must reflect the Latin.

UPDATE 6 Feb 2020:

A good point has been made in the comments.

It could be that the priest just slipped back into an older mode.

I remember an old priest who, late in the pontificate of John Paul II, slipped into “for Paul our Pope”.

I myself have to concentrate hard on the rare occasions when I say the Novus Ordo, not to do certain things, which are now powerfully wired in as muscle memory.  And even though I have written extensively on the propers of the Novus Ordo, the new translation of the ordinary is still “new” to me.

So, it is possible that the priest in question just slipped.

However, the questioner said she asked the priest and he responded that he had the option.

No.  He really doesn’t.  That suggests that he knows what he is doing.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    It’s additionally a departure from scripture. Greek ?????? cannot be stretched to mean “omnis” or “universis” however they try to cut it.

  2. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Oh sorry I didn’t realise the thread doesn’t support the Greek alphabet. Pollis is exactly translated by multis, not omnis or universis

  3. A 1971 query to the appropriate dicastery explained in its response (found in the journal Notitiae), that in the original languages, the word “many” is not a finite term; in other words, it refers to a “many” without an end.

    While not all will accept the salvation of Christ through His Church, Saint Paul says that Christ would nonetheless provide all men with the opportunity to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), their acceptance of that salvation notwithstanding.

    Although both words might be argued as at least faithful, if not both literal, in the end, the Church decided in favor of fidelity to the Latin text. And so we render “pro multis” as “for many.”

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    Thank you for mentioning that this abuse does not invalidate the consecration.

    The other option, which I hear all too often, is “for you”, neither “for you and for many”, nor “for you and for all”, but just “for you”. I wonder if the intention is to make people feel special, but if that were the case, one would expect to hear “just for you”.

  5. JoanM says:

    Since the new liturgical books came into efect, I had not exerienced ny liturgical abuses, why is this turning up again. We had suffered enough in 4 years, Let’s not accept a renewal of abuses again

  6. Simon_GNR says:

    I’ve not come across this liturgical abuse, I’m pleased to say. But one gets a change of word order quite often at the Orate Fratres: “Pray, sisters and brothers [sic], that my sacrifice and yours…” instead of “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours…”. My usual response to this nonsense is to say “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the glory and praise [sic] of his name…” in the response that follows. I feel the need to make a point of it and, as I’m always in the first row of the congregation, I hope the priest hears me deliberately change the words of the prayer! What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  7. Suzanne says:

    Does this part:

    “And this liturgical abuse is graver than others by the fact that it concerns the form of the sacrament, the words of consecration of the Precious Blood.”

    mean that the words of the Consecration that most of us grew up on, “for you and for all,” was itself a liturgical abuse?

  8. Suzanne says: “for you and for all,” was itself a liturgical abuse?

    Technically it was not a liturgical abuse by the fact that it was an officially approve text.

    However, it was morally a liturgical abuse. “For all” for “pro multis” was blatantly inaccurate, founded on the bad argument of a Lutheran Scripture scholar with an axe to grind against Catholic teaching. “For all” was an abuse of the people that, over several decades, probably warped their understanding of the effects of the Sacrifice of Christ.

    Note, however, that saying “for all” would not be – because of that bad but once official translation – invalidate the consecration. The once official, obsolete ICEL still had the essential form of the sacrament/consecration.

  9. Unwilling says:

    The correct word is “many”. Not only is the prescribed Latin of this word in the Consecration “multis” which means “many” (not “omnes/-ibus” as in the immediately previous “Bibete ex hoc omnes“), but the original words (pantes “all” and pollwn “many”) are from the Greek of Matthew 26:27-28, about which no pretended philology can raise doubts about the distinction. But, if you can just decide to retranslate the Our Father to suit your latest concern…

  10. Charles E Flynn says:


    On the subject of retranslations:

    From What Jesus Did Not Say About Hell, by Michael Pakaluk:

    This is David Bentley Hart’s approach.  Jesus says in one verse (Mt 25:46) that the unrighteous will be sent away into everlasting torment( kolasin ai?nion).  So Hart expends a lot of effort arguing that the Greek word ai?nios does not necessarily mean “everlasting” and that kolasis need not mean “punishment.”


    And so it goes. Except Hart goes farther than interpreters usually do: to deal most definitively with such evidence, he, in effect, annihilates it. That is, he produced an entire translation of the New Testament so that ai?nios never means everlasting but always “of the Age.” And Gehenna never means Hell, but always “the Vale of Hinnom,” and so on. In Hart’s Bible, Jesus warns the unrighteous that “these will go to the chastening of that Age.” (Mt 25:46) Voilà! No more offending evidence.

  11. Presumably this wasn’t a one-shot but a regular abuse by a particular priest. I do know of one priest in particular who drove me crazy with that to the point where I deliberately avoided his parish towards the end of the week when I knew he might be offering Mass. Apart from that, old habits can die hard, even many years after the much-improved translation. I was at the St. Louis men’s conference last Saturday and they had Mass (with a band– ugh– and they called it a “choir,” ugh again) and I found myself slipping into “And also with you,” maybe because of the silly band, though I also have a strong temptation to say “Hosanna in excelsis” at vernacular Masses on account of having gravitated toward the extraordinary form of late.

  12. La Serenissima says:

    Here in Italy, the priest says, “Versato per voi e per tutti”. It is written like this in all N.O. missals.
    Unless Fr Z. corrects us, “tutti” translates as “all”.

  13. spouse says:

    Yes, unfortunately the Italian Missal reads “per tutti”, i.e. “for all”.
    I shiver each and every single time I hear it, because it’s a blatant betrayal (and not the only one) of the Latin Missal, which is the only one that counts.
    The Italian Missal has recently been revised (though the new version is not yet in use), but of course this bit will remain incorrect in saecula saeculorum, at least until someone does something: which is pretty much unlikely, anyway, since, for instance, when Benedict XVI formally explained to the German Bishops that the current “für viele” (“for many”) ought to be corrected, nobody seemed to care.
    And I strongly doubt that anybody (with power to do so) in this confused Church will take care of that.
    The sad thing is that, when they reeeeeeeaaally want to change something, they do, of course: just as they are doing with all that irresponsible tampering with the “ne nos inducas in tentationem”.
    And of course when priests don’t like the Missal, they just rephrase and conjure up some different words… But never to be more faithful to the Latin text…! Never ever.
    Sad, very sad.

  14. Kerry says:

    Simon_GNR, Pax Christi. May I suggest changing the words of the response to “Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis…”.
    And the triple “Domine non sum dignus…” too.

  15. samwise says:

    In the Fatima prayer, should we say “lead many souls to heaven” vs “lead all”?

    [That has nothing to do with the question. We hope and pray, indeed, that all might be saved. On the other hand, we know that that isn’t going to happen. Christ’s Sacrifice was for all, but not all people will accept the gift. Many will, but not all. So, we can pray that God will lead all to heaven, even as in the consecration of the Precious Blood the Church recognizes that not everyone will accept the opportunity.]

  16. robtbrown says:

    Yesterday, a priest filling in for the week, recommended the importance of reading Scripture. He noted that when he was young, his house had no Bible. When I heard this, I wondered whether he had ever considered the Scriptural texts in the mass, not only the two readings but the texts (commons and propers) coming straight from Scripture.

    Then later, during the words of Institution, he said: “Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to his friends . . . ” In fact Scripture does not use “friends” but rather “disciples” (directly translated from both Latin and Greek).

  17. SemperServusDei says:

    A while ago a visiting priest, after lecturing us at multiple points in the Mass about our need to be inclusive and welcoming, changed the words of consecration to say « for all »… at that point it seemed obvious that his reason for doing this was to promote his political point of view… I confronted him after Mass and told he he had no right to use the Liturgy to promote his personal agenda. He was not pleased at what I said and he has not been back since. I did mention what had happened to our pastor as well, so maybe he’s been disinvited. We should not remain silent in the face of abuse.

  18. SemperServusDei says: I confronted him after Mass and told he he had no right to use the Liturgy to promote his personal agenda. He was not pleased at what I said and he has not been back since. I did mention what had happened to our pastor as well, so maybe he’s been disinvited. We should not remain silent in the face of abuse.

    I think George Neumayr is right that when you walk up and confront clergy about things like changing the words of institution, or preaching some heresy from the pulpit, or ad-libbing some part of the Mass, you decrease the odds of its happening again. The longer people get away with doing something wrong without any pushback, the bolder they become.

    I think that’s why the people at the Amazon Synod thought they could get away with bringing in Pachamama idols: they assumed nobody would do anything (and they evidently don’t fear divine retribution). And I believe that, because Alexander Tshuegguel and his friend went in and boosted the idols and tossed them into the Tiber, there are a lot of churches all over the world that haven’t brought in these idols, that otherwise might have.

  19. Gaz says:

    I would like the English translation to be “for the many” but I am no big cheese.

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