Sunday, July 10, 2005

Concerning the words "pro multis" - did Jesus shed his blood for all or for many?

In the editio typica of the Roman Missal, the Latin words of consecration of the Holy Eucharist "pro multis" means "for many." So why does the English translation translate this to "for ALL?" Is this correct? Is this an invalid consecration?

I think it is better translated "for many," but believe it is valid with either translation. The form of the Sacrament are the words of consecration: "This is my body" and "This is my blood." Throughout the history of the Church, there have been many variations of the formula, some of which omitted "pro multis" entirely. Thus, the "pro multis" part may be omitted entirely and the Sacrament would still be valid.

From Jason Evert, Catholic Answers Q&A:

Throughout the history of the Church, there have been at least 89 variations of the formula of consecration approved by the Church (see Likoudis and Whitehead, The Pope, the Council, and the Mass, 109). Many of these entirely exclude the phrase in question. For example, the canon of Hippolytus, which dates back to the beginning of the third century, gives the following as the words of consecration for the cup: "And likewise, taking the cup, he said: ‘This is my Blood, which is shed for you. When you do this, make memory of me.’" More to the point, St. Paul himself omits the phrase and gives the words of consecration as: "In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’" (1 Cor. 11:25). Ultimately, when a matter has not been settled infallibly, prior writings and writers cannot be used to attack a later practice that has been approved by the Holy See. And the translation of the phrase pro vobis et pro multis as "for you and for all" has been approved. This principle is something that Aquinas specifically endorsed. In his Questiones Quodlibetales, he stated: "We must abide rather by the pope’s judgment than by the opinion of any of the theologians, however well versed he [sic] may be in divine Scripture" (IX:8). John Henry Newman adds: "Before it [the Church] speaks, the most saintly may mistake; and after it has spoken, the most gifted must obey" (Letters of John Henry Newman, 236).

How do you know that the Church, when omitting "pro multis" in the past, did not invalidate the Sacrament? According to Pius VI, the proposition that the Church may establish approved ecclesiastical disciplines that are harmful or dangerous to the faithful is condemned as erroneous. Thus, the Church is protects from establishing a liturgy that is invalid, as this would be harmful to the faithful.

Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, 78 (1794):
The prescription of the synod [of Pistoia] ... it adds, "in this itself (discipline) there is to be distinguished what is necessary or useful to retain the faithful in spirit, from that which is useless or too burdensome for the liberty of the sons of the new Covenant to endure, but more so, from that which is dangerous or harmful, namely, leading to superstituion and materialism"; in so far as by the generality of the words it includes and submits to a prescribed examination even the discipline established and approved by the Church, as if the Church which is ruled by the Spirit of God could have established discipline which is not only useless and burdensome for Christian liberty to endure, but which is even dangerous and harmful and leading to superstition and materialism,--false, rash, scandalous, dangerous, offensive to pious ears, injurious to the Church and to the Spirit of God by whom it is guided, at least erroneous. (Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, 78 (1794), cited in Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, translated by Roy F. Deferari from the 13th ed. Of Henry Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, 1954, Loreto Publications, 2nd printing, 2004, pg. 393)]

For further reading, see:

by Fr. John F. McCarthy

Diocese of Colorado Springs - Q&A on "pro multis"
by Peter Howard, STL

Why "For All" in the Words of Consecration?
by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.


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