Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No "Pro Multis" Here

As it's been asked, I will confirm that the most recent drafts coming from ICEL state at the consecration of the wine "for you and for all."

"And for the many" is nowhere to be found.

I remember that EWTN once tried to toy with the liturgy and use "and for the many" in English -- a Big No-No that went down in 1994. As often happened with the Alabamans, Rome went berserk and clamped down immediately.



Blogger Arch Episcopus said...


When will you sheep learn?

28/9/05 01:19  
Blogger Richard said...

No surprise, really.

I never thought "for the many" would actually fly. Resistance is too entrenched.

It's a tough phrase to translate. The difficulty is that, given the abysmal state of catechesis out there and the general antinomian tendencies of the American public, the dangers are real that people in the pews will draw the wrong theology from it - assuming they are thinking about it at all and not the Steelers game at noon.

There is on the other hand (I think) a real Jansenist tendency in the RadTrad arguments for translating as "the many" or "many."

Despite the lack of a definite article in the Latin I still tend to think "the many" is the most reasonable translation, one which leaves enough ambiguity and seems more reflective of the Greek scriptural term polloi, which is only applied in the universal sense in isolated cases.

Ah well. An old debate, and whatever ICEL decides it won't be settled any time soon.

28/9/05 09:20  
Blogger Henry said...

An old debate, and whatever ICEL decides it won't be settled any time soon.

In any event, it won't be decided by ICEL. I understand that final decisions on translations of the consecratory formula are reserved to the Holy Father himself. We can therefore be confident that "pro multis" will be correctly translated in the end.

28/9/05 10:56  
Blogger Staying in Balance said...

"I understand that final decisions on translations of the consecratory formula are reserved to the Holy Father himself."

Thank God for that!!!

28/9/05 11:08  
Blogger Disgusted in DC said...

From an accuracy standpoint, I would like the canon to say "for many" but it's not one of my pet-peeves in the liturgy (of which there are many!) The only downside is that if we go back to that in the English, Rome will have to clarify in a footnote somewhere that this change doesn't invalidate all masses for the last 30 years as I am sure some radtrad will argue.

28/9/05 11:14  
Blogger Richard said...

Hello Patrick,

Some RadTrads are no doubt already preparing their briefs.

Gerry Matatics is no doubt beside himself.

28/9/05 12:27  
Blogger Gene H said...

At the risk of asking a stupid question, what is the theological/liturgical difference between "for the many" and "for all"? I assume "the many" is a subset of "all", but beyond that, I'm not informed enough to know the significance.

28/9/05 12:28  
Blogger Henry said...

Christ certainly died to open the gates of salvation "for all". If, however, some reject His grace and therefore are not saved, then it follows that his sacrifice was efficacious only "for many".

Although I prefer "for many" as being the correct English translation of the "pro multis" that's been there for many centuries in the official Latin consecration formula, I can accept "for all" if that's what Pope Benedict approves, understanding it correctly as indicated above.

However, many orthodox Catholics fear that the "for all" mistranslation is pernicious because for ill-catechized people it may encourage a heterodox belief that "all" are, indeed, saved (and thus that no one at all is condemned to hell).

28/9/05 13:20  
Blogger George Collie said...

Good explanation by henry. Very helpful regarding the orthodox position.

Isn't the translational problem also significant? Didn't "pro multis" mean for the multitudes, implying more than just many, but potentially less than all?

Perhaps the ancient Fathers were grappling, as we often do, with the problem of the unbelievers?

If we are left to choose between "many"
and "all," I would choose the latter, because it seems like a more accurate translation. The problem with "many" is that it can be a relatively small group, which is clearly not the mind of Church

28/9/05 18:26  
Blogger David L Alexander said...


"When will you sheep learn?"

When we listen to the Church, and not to every twit with delusions of grandeur. (By the way, who you callin' a sheep, pal?)

Critical Mass: Lost (and Found) in Translation

29/9/05 10:36  
Blogger Michael said...

George, with respect, if "for all" were the better translation, wouldn't you expect some translators of the New Testament to render Jesus' words that way? I invite you to look up Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24 in as many English translations as you like. Our Lord is consistently recorded as having said that He would (or He does) shed His blood "for many".

Richard, while Latin lacks a definite article, Greek has one, and it does not appear in Matthew 26:28 or Mark 14:24. If you don't mind using a Protestant web site and a Protestant version of the Bible, you can compare the Greek and English side by side here:

Matthew 26:28
Mark 14:24

In contrast, here is a verse where the underlying Greek really does have the phrase "the many":

Romans 5:19

There is very little justification for rendering "pro multis" in Latin and "peri pollwn" in Greek as "for all" or even "for the many". They simply mean "for many".

2/2/06 00:29  

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