Pope to German bishops on “for you and for many” UPDATED 4-25

UPDATE 4-25: The full text of the pope’s letter in English translation is here.

In a lengthy letter to the bishops in Germany (German-language bishops in other countries are also to receive the letter), Pope Benedict has explained in some detail his reasons for insisting upon “for many” in the Eucharistic prayer. About a year ago, the German bishops informed the pope that there was division among German-speaking bishops on the question of “for many” vs. “for all.” The danger was imminent that, even if the bishops’ conference were to unite around the wording “for many,” some regions would opt to keep “for all” in the forthcoming publication of the official hymnal Gotteslob (“Praise of God”).

The question is how to translate the words of the Lord in the Last supper narrative of the Eucharistic prayer, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which will be poured out for many” (Mark 14:24; cf. Matthew 26:28).

The pope’s letter is pastoral in tone. He hopes that by persuasion he can bring about unity. The pope makes his case by placing the question in the larger context of difficult translation issues since the Second Vatican Council.

To translate this as “for all” is not purely translation, but interpretation. Significantly, the pope says that this interpretation was and is “well grounded.” There were and are good reasons for conveying it as “for all.” The problem is that this interpretation, however good, is going beyond translation. He writes, “This intermixing of translation and interpretation belongs, to a certain extent, to the principles which guided the translation of liturgical books immediately after the [Second Vatican] Council. One was aware of how far removed the bible and the liturgical texts were from the language and thought of people in today’s world… One felt not only justified, but indeed obligated to intermix such interpretations in order to shorten the route to the people whose heart and understanding were to be reached by these words.”

Although there is justification for “substantial, not necessarily literal translation,” wide divergences between various vernacular languages have come about, as have “banalities” that represent “real losses.” The pope has become convinced in the course of the years that there are limits to the principle of translation with structural rather than literal correspondence. According to the pope, the 2001 Roman document on translation, Liturgiam authenticam, placed the principle of literal correspondence in the foreground, “of course without prescribing one-sided literalism.”

The pope believes that “the sacred word must appear as itself as much as possible, even with its foreignness and the questions it brings.” Interpretation, by contrast, is the task of the church. The very “structure of revelation” demands that the word is read within the “interpretive community of the church.” This is why the Holy See has determined that the Latin “pro multis” must be translated (emphasis in original) and not be given in what is already an interpretation.

The pope emphasizes that Christ died for all, and that the church’s teachings on this point has not changed. “That Jesus Christ as the incarnate Son of God is the man for all people, the new Adam, belongs to the fundamental certainties of our faith.”

There is a two-level loyalty to the original text at play, according to the pope. The church has reverence for the words of Jesus. Jesus, for his part, said “for many” because he saw himself as God’s suffering servant of Isaiah 53, as the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Isaiah. This double loyalty is the concrete reason for the church’s formulation “for many.”

The pope is well aware that this places an “enormous responsibility” upon those who interpret the Word of God. Changes in liturgical forms and texts have a great human impact and can be disturbing, the pope says, “as we all know from our experiences in the last 50 years.” Catechesis is necessary, and it must precede the change from “for all” to “for many.” The pope writes to implore his brother bishops urgently to undertake such catechesis.

*          *          *          *          *

The pope distinguishes between “substantial” and “literal” (inhaltlich and wörtlich) translation, which of course reminds English speakers of the distinction between “dynamic equivalence” and “formal equivalence.” Forty or fifty years ago, this distinction was widely employed in translation studies. A possible problem with the pope’s position is that the distinction has been abandoned by so many translation theorists in recent decades.

All translation strives for some sort of equivalence. But there are so many types of equivalence, and consequently every translation, in making the choices that inevitably must be made, ends up being “dynamic” in some sense. There is no “wörtlich” translation, strictly speaking. Every translation makes some sort of decision – an interpretation – about what the “inhalt” is or how it is to be expressed.

A further interesting point is that the recently-approved English translation of the Roman Missal is not always satisfied with pure “translation” but clearly opts for “interpretation” in some cases. For now I’ll simply note the point and leave it to readers to give examples they have found, if they wish.

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Source: domradio.de

 

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55 comments

  1. You say, Fr Anthony: ‘There is no “wörtlich” translation, strictly speaking. Every translation makes some sort of decision – an interpretation – about what the “inhalt” is or how it is to be expressed.’

    Exactly. And it is clear (I have just re-read Joachim Jeremias on the disputed word) that English ‘many’ does not accurately translate the Hebrew ‘rabbim’, nor, therefore, its Greek rendering as ‘polloi’. We simply don’t have an equivalent word in English to the polyseme ‘rabbim’. The best we can do, therefore, is to adopt a word that is nearest in meaning to the original context, which may not be the literal meaning of ‘polloi’ that you find in a Greek dictionary. When a word has been through several cultural and semantic shifts in the course of repeated translation, one really must go back and re-examine the original.

    That is why ‘consubstantial’ is so awful. ‘Homoousios’ means ‘of the same being as’. Because Latin is deficient in participial derivatives of ‘esse’, it sought refuge in ‘substantia’. It’s a poor translation from Greek into Latin. So why are we stuck with a poor (indeed non-)translation of a poor translation?

    1. John’s observation about substantia is right on target. It is one thing to say that interpretation is needed, it is another to create a situation in which layer upon layer of interpretation. Does this require a kind of excavation of the text proper to scholars in order to unearth its true meaning, and if so is it pastoral?

    2. “So why are we stuck with a poor (indeed non-)translation of a poor translation?”

      Because the Latin version is viewed (by those in charge) as being the sacred word.

  2. Hopefully the German bishops will do as the Italian bishops did (unlike the American bishops) and tell B16 no way, we’re staying w/ “for all”.

  3. Interesting – to quote: “…..The question is how to translate the words of the Lord in the Last supper narrative of the Eucharistic prayer, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which will be poured out for many” (Mark 14:24; cf. Matthew 26:28).

    The pope’s letter is pastoral in tone. He hopes that by persuasion he can bring about unity. The pope makes his case by placing the question in the larger context of difficult translation issues since the Second Vatican Council.”

    So, we have a pope’s opinion or even his theological interpretation changing a council’s direction and overturning years of experience based on:
    – the “original” latin (only it was never “original”)
    – the words spoken by Jesus (only we don’t really know that and not every evangelist used/remember/wrote the same words)
    – it still comes down to “equivalence” or “interpretation” which B16 justifies by picking and choosing and then defending it by stating that it requires “catechesis”

    Well, don’t remember any catechesis on the phrase – for many? (yet, most agree that liturgy is not catechesis rather it is the lived experience of lex orandi, lex credendi) and it is interesting that he is trying a “pastoral” approach to persuade his fellow German bishops (looks like he has given up on Italy). Why wasn’t that the approach with all english speaking conferences?

    1. Bill, because the English speaking conferences, namely our American conference, are filled w/ career “yes” men cowards with Dolan as the leader.

      1. Since, these days, it is so easy to call President Obama a communist dictator or President Bush a Hitler I shouldn’t be surprised at how easily people resort to hyperbole to try to be heard above the din, at how easily the ‘coward’ label is used, but I still find it shocking.

        My father told me that it would probably be a good idea to refrain from calling someone a fool, or a coward, or a dupe unless I was prepared to defend myself with my fists because of the grave insult. He was right.

        There do walk on earth cowards and fools and dupes, but . . . figuratively, wouldn’t it be better to try to avoid the nuclear option or at least reserve it as a last recourse? Perhaps you have.

      2. Surely you jest Christopher…
        You advocate violence rather than words??? (“…prepared to defend myself with my fists…”)

        My mother used to say:
        “Sticks and stones
        May break my bones
        But names
        Will never hurt me.”

        With all due respect I think her advice is more appropriate than your fathers’ advice about fists.

      3. Kim, Christopher said:

        My father told me that it would probably be a good idea to refrain from calling someone a fool, or a coward, or a dupe unless I was prepared to defend myself with my fists because of the grave insult.

        That does not advocate “violence rather than words” on the part of Christopher, it implies violence rather than words (or in addition to them) on the part of the person being insulted (not Christopher). In other words, some insults may incite a violent reaction in the person insulted, and so the one doing the insulting should be prepared to defend him- or herself.

        It’s easy enough to require of ourselves words instead of violence, but we can’t expect everyone else to abide by our own personal rules of conduct.

  4. It appears the pope did not explain how he came to permit the Italian bishops’ conference to translate this as “for all.” Does this mean he will now recind his permission, or does he really not expect that anyone will question this anomaly?

    1. Rita, I don’t think they asked him for his permission. They informed him that they would be using “for all”. He muttered something about wishing they would reconsider but he didn’t give his permission because the Italians didn’t ask for it. Those Italians have a way with diplomacy, they can even make an old Bavarian go along against his own will!

    2. So why is this such a rallying cry? (Traditionalist that I am, I would have preferred, “for the many.”)

      There is so much more at stake. Does the Apostolic (valid bishops) Faith contain the means of salvation (sacraments) or not? If not, then this one little word doesn’t really matter. Yet, if the Holy Father is the successor of Peter, what he says matters. If you agree so far, then the mind of the Church should have some sort of effect on you; if not, then what? Why be Catholic?

      1. This one little word does matter. Theology is full of these little words — homo-ousios or homoi-ousios; the Lutheran “sola” — and they become matters of life and death for the church.

  5. Of course, the problem is that Jesus didn’t say “for many.” He said “saggi’in” in Aramaic, an idiomatic expression that was imprecisely translated into Greek (“polloi”) as “many,” leading eventually to “pro multis.” Jesus’s original meaning (I’m no linguist, but I do read around) was more like what Southerners would mean by “y’all”: it was precise about who it included, but did not particularly exclude anybody. As we speak standard English today, “many” is understood chiefly as an exclusive expression: a “many” is a segregation from an “all.”

    What has made this an immovable stone in my path at every Mass since November has been the nagging worry that the real root of this is its importance to the SSPX crowd, that it is an ill-advised gesture toward unity with people who still believe, “extra ecclesiam nulla salus,” people for whom some segregation of a “many” from the “all” is perfectly alright. I’ve failed to understand why a better compromise in English was not possible or desired: “for the multitude” or “for the many” are perfectly legitimate ways to translate “pro multis” from a language that doesn’t use articles, and in English do not carry that ugly connotation of exclusivity. Why were those possibilities overlooked?

    Nothing in what Pope Benedict has written allays my fears. An “enormous responsibility” on those who interpret the Word of God?? It’s one thing to deal with difficult truths of Revelation. There are plenty of them. It’s quite another to ignore the translation history in order to invent a difficult truth for us to deal with, especially if we’re all being made to deal with it in order to soothe people who really don’t accept the idea that salvation is available outside the Church, as the Council taught that it could be.

    1. So glad to know that you found the missing 18½ minutes of the Last Supper Tapes, so that at last we know what Jesus really said!

      1. Yeah, that’s what he was saying. Right. Thanks, Emily, for your most erudite contribution to this post.

    2. “I’ve failed to understand why a better compromise in English was not possible or desired: “for the multitude” or “for the many” are perfectly legitimate ways to translate “pro multis” from a language that doesn’t use articles, and in English do not carry that ugly connotation of exclusivity. Why were those possibilities overlooked?”

      A most excellent point. This is also what I have long-wondered. It seems to me that “for the many” would have opened up the phrase to not seem as exclusive. The gospel cannot, at least in essence and meaning, contradict itself. Based on what the apostles taught, we know what Jesus meant.

      I must admit that I, too, am no linguist. But, then, scholarship really helps no one if the results only cause unnecessary confusion among the rank-and-file. Language was made for man, not man for language, if you will.

    3. Steve,

      I think your conclusion that “for the multitude” or “for the many” is not only acceptable but also preferable is a good one. I hope we do eventually find out why “for many” was given preference in the translation (especially over “for the many”, which would be an equally literal translation of “pro multis” given Latin’s absence of articles).

      As far as Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus goes – it is still part of the Catholic Faith and a discussion about it can be found in the Catechism in paragraphs 846-848. They summarize the Council’s teaching in light of the ancient teaching of EENS. We may not simply dismiss either EENS or the Council’s/Catechism’s explanation of it.

      Possibilities are given for salvation through Christ and the Church even when one is not formally a member – those who through no fault of their own could not be baptized or could not have known that the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Christ. However, conversely, the possibility exists that some (even many!) are lost, even though Christ’s death was sufficient to make their salvation possible.

      We say “lex orandi, lex credendi” – and I think this is the exact reason why “for all” needed to be corrected (and I pray that it will be corrected in the Italian and German as well). With “for all” there is the risk of universalism creeping into the belief of some of the faithful. If we find that “for many”/”per molti”/”für viele” pushes the understanding too far in an exclusive direction, then perhaps we will end up with a corrective “for the many”/”for the multitude” in the future.

      1. “No salvation”?? I just don’t read the Catechism that way. If there even are “Possibilities…for salvation through Christ and the Church even when one is not formally a member,” then there “could be” salvation for those outside the Church. It seems logically inevitable. It cannot be “no” salvation.

        “Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”~Dominus Iesus

        “Therefore though God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him, yet a necessity lies upon the Church (1 Cor. 9:16), and at the same time a sacred duty, to preach the Gospel. And hence missionary activity today as always retains its power and necessity.”~Ad Gentes

        It is no diminution of the essential and unique role of the Church in the plan of salvation to say that these gestures toward the infinite mercy of a loving God, in light of the poor way we mortals understand His mercy, assert that salvation could be available outside the Church. To say there is “no salvation” simply cannot be for us to say: it lacks subtlety, presumes too much understanding. Indeed, this leads us to my more urgent point, which is that we should not put our own padlock on the gates of salvation at the summit of the liturgy, within the Words of Institution, and esteem ourselves to be some privileged minority, an almost Calvinist Elect gazing down on the rest of the world (as the SSPX seem to me to do with their triumphalist invocations of EENS). It’s so dissonant within the context of the Mass that, as I say, it has become an unbearable obstacle within the liturgy…as least, for me.

      2. “No salvation”?? I just don’t read the Catechism that way. If there even are “Possibilities…for salvation through Christ and the Church even when one is not formally a member,” then there “could be” salvation for those outside the Church. It seems logically inevitable. It cannot be “no” salvation.

        The key word there is “formally”.

        The point is that materially these people are members of the Church even though they have not been through the rites. (As is the case with e.g. catachumens who, if they die before bapitism receive Catholic funeral rites.)

        Similarly, Dominus Iesus says, ” In fact, ‘the action of Christ and the Spirit outside the Church’s visible boundaries’ must not be excluded,” the further point is that Christ and the spirit are not thereby acting outside the Church’s invisible boundaries.

      3. Samuel, I understand your point and accept it. Indeed, if that is the flavor of what is meant in Dominus Iesus and in Ad Gentes, then the distinction between “all” and “many” is collapsed because no one is excluded. Fine by me.

        The only problem that remains is the fact that we hear “for many” every time the Mass is offered, and we speak English. So while the collapsing of that distinction is as theologically-sound as pleasing, it also trivializes language which, by implication, trivializes the Mass being said in the language.

        I feel better, and yet no better.

      4. Steve,

        You said “It is no diminution of the essential and unique role of the Church in the plan of salvation to say that these gestures toward the infinite mercy of a loving God, […] that salvation could be available outside the Church.” I would agree; it does not diminish the Church’s role. God, in His mercy can save even those who are truly outside of the Church. There is no salvation outside of Christ – salvation is to live eternally with the Triune God, in Jesus Christ.

        However, even though God can choose to save as He wills, the ordinary means given to us are the Sacraments given to us by God through the Catholic Church. Even when other Churches and ecclesiastical communities are mentioned, note that the way they are instruments of salvation is only in relation to the Catholic Church. The Church, which subsists in the Catholic Church, is the only ordinary vehicle that God has given for salvation. That is why we must preach the Gospel to the nations who have not heard it. That is why we must continually present the Messiah to the Jewish people who first heard the Word of God. That is why we must seek genuine unity with Christians who have broken unity with the Catholic Church (even SSPX!). It is not that God cannot save them, but if He does, it is in spite of their being outside the visible boundaries of the Church, not because of it.

        God will make up for our shortcomings – He will not let us “put our own padlock on the gates of salvation.” The gates are open, but the truth that is proclaimed when we use “pro multis” is that not everyone will choose to come in to those gates – some souls will be lost.

        If any in the SSPX are rejoicing over lost souls, shame on them, because there is no sadder thing in the world. On the other hand, if anyone is saying that non-Catholics need not become Catholic, shame on them, because they allow the children to die in sight of the gates.

      5. Steve states: “Samuel, I understand your point… the distinction between “all” and “many” is collapsed because no one is excluded.”

        You mean Samuel is actually a closet Universalist? Egads, I never would have guessed! 🙂

        (Couldn’t resist, no offense intended to anyone).

    4. So which is it?

      We don’t really know [the words spoken by Jesus] and not every evangelist used/remember[ed]/wrote the same words (Bill)

      He said “saggi’in” in Aramaic, an idiomatic expression that was imprecisely translated into Greek… (Steve)

      1. JP – two thoughts:
        – my context was that quoting two gospels is fine but these were written years later and are based upon memories and interpretation – yes, the very words may have been precisely remembered. But, the point is, it was already an interpretation and not the same for every gospel. So, why canonize two gospels?
        – The second point “Aramaic” only extends my context – if it truly was the word used by Jesus – its meaning in Aramaic was closer to “the many” or “all” than the more limited english version.

      2. I won’t feign expertise. I’ve read some, and I believe the scholarship I’ve read. The translation history is fairly well known, and my authority is a Biblical Archaeology Review article from 1973. (Sadly, I’ve moved to a public university that doesn’t have library access to that material…I’m going by almost as ancient notes.) I do doubt very much that we have anything like a court transcript of the Last Supper in the Gospels, so to that degree some skepticism about “saggi’in” is well-justified and I willingly would share it for that reason. But just as quickly we are obliged to ask, if that our skepticism is justified because we do not know what was said, how can we place so much value and emphasis on a literalism that burdens the listener with an “enormous responsibility,” one that challenges what we believe about the inclusive possibilities of salvation, at that climactic moment of the liturgy? I simply cannot understand it. If “saggi’in” is right or wrong, either way, I still can’t see how it makes sense.

      3. Bill, we’re not (just) “canoniz[ing] two gospels”, since the liturgical account of the institution (including the words placed coming from the mouth of Jesus) is a pastiche of four scriptural sources with layers of ecclesial amendments: 1) parallelisms, 2) adherence to scriptural texts, and 3) reverential embellishments (some from scripture).

        Only looking at the words attributed to Jesus in the EPs, we have (M=Matt, R=Mark, L=Luke, P=Paul; * = use of synonym; + = use of words from opposite matter (bread for wine, wine for bread)):

        Bread
        accipite (M R* [sumite])
        (et) manducate (M* [comedite])
        ex hoc (M+)
        omnes (M+ R+)
        hoc est (M R L P)
        enim (M+)
        corpus meum (M R L P)
        quod pro vobis (L P)
        tradetur (L* [datur])

        Wine
        accipite (M+)
        (et) bibite (M)
        ex eo omnes (M* [hoc -> eo])
        hic est (M R L P)
        enim (M)
        calix (L P)
        sanguinis mei (M R L P)
        novi (M R L P)
        et aeterni [Heb 13:20]
        testamenti (M R L P)
        qui pro vobis (L P)
        et pro multis (M R)
        effundetur (M R)
        in remissionem peccatorum (M)
        hoc facite in meam commemorationem (L+ P+*)

        A closing note…

        “The texts of the account of institution, among them in particular the most ancient […] are never simply a Scripture text restated. {Cf. P. Cagin, L’Eucharistie canon primitif de la messe, 225-244, where the four biblical and the 76 liturgical accounts of the institution are printed side by side in 80 columns; in this way 79 distinct textual parts in the account are differentiated.}” (Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, II:195)

  6. My sore point of interpretation is in the allusion to the story of the centurion asking Jesus to heal his son, the source of the “under my roof” in the prayer before communion. However, the allusion breaks down in the liturgical context (I presume this is in the Latin, too) when we ask that “my soul shall be healed.” I think the prior “I shall be healed” is a more holistic approach, especially since the original scripture is about a physical healing (which included spiritual, of course) for “my son,” and the current use skews our prayer toward a focus on souls.

    1. John, I agree with Ann, that is what is intended in that particular verse. As a matter of fact, the entire 8th chapter of Matthew is about healing the body and spirit. Of course we are concerned about our souls but that is not the message the verse intended. Indeed Ann makes a good point and I agree.

      1. In the context of the liturgy, though, it is not a bodily defect that would make us “unworthy” (unless you consider the rules in some Eastern churches against participation in the mysteries while bleeding). That is why I think the Latin text emphasizes soul over body or whole.

        That said, I’d be perfectly happy with the Latin (and the translation) saying “and your servant shall be healed.” It says more!

      2. JP I agree that it should be “servant”. There is no reason to underemphasize that aspect of Eucharist that can also cure physical ailments. I can tell you that if a person is physically ill their soul suffers too and vice versa.
        Christ healed the whole person, body and soul. I think that Christ emphasized physical needs often even when He appeared to the disciples after his resurrection (Lk 24:41) when He asked “Do you have something here to eat?”
        He satisfied the physical need first then He followed it by “opening their minds to understand scripture” (Lk 24:45).

  7. An excellent article, thank you, especially for pointing out that the hard and fast distinction between dynamic and formal equivalence is now questioned, and that there is a spectrum between “literal” and “inhaltlich” (substanial) in every translation.
    I think the punch last line has a typo of “interpretation” in the first part of the sentence, which should no doub be “translation” to contrast with “interpretation” in the second part.
    It is also very true, as commentators have noted, that “the many” or like the French “multitude” would have done very well and while maybe not the way we speak every day, is more accurate and in any case much of the new Mass is (rightly) not the way we speak every day.
    I don’t believe that this is pandering to the SSPX, though, as even the old style Catholics always said that Christ died for all humanity, (or all men, as they would have put it) only the salvation offered to all may not bear fruit in everyone if people don’t respond to it and accept it and convert their lives accordingly.

  8. Steve said, “He said “saggi’in” in Aramaic, an idiomatic expression that was imprecisely translated into Greek (“polloi”) as “many,” leading eventually to “pro multis.”
    1. It seems to me that you would have to guess what Aramaic words Jesus used since we don’t have any of them recorded.
    2. Secondly, be very careful in saying “polloi” was an imprecise word, since it was the Divine Author who ultimately chose that word.
    3. Finally, the text that is being translated is from the Roman Rite, which will enviably have certain Romanisims, as it were, which are apart of the Christian culture in Rome that gave birth to our rite. Our rite can not be fully understood without them. If such Roman words and expressions such as, Sacramentum, pro multis, etc. we’re translated based on a different language they would loose, as well as the entire Roman Rite, their distinctive Roman charecture.

  9. One problem not mentioned here is that the Latin “pro multis” is in a language that does not, as English indeed does, use articles.
    The translation problem for English is when to use or not use an article with a Latin noun.
    “Pro multis” could be translated into English as
    for many
    for a many
    for the many
    without violating word for word translation principles, because the languages use different structures.

    What I have trouble understanding is why the curia insists on using “for many” which in English can be read as excluding some, instead of “for the many” which can easily be understood as including all, especially in light of B16 saying in this document that he understands “pro multis” as meaning “for all” when interpreted correctly.

  10. Perhaps I have missed something, but I don’t believe the Italian bishops’ decision (desire) to retain “per tutti” is as yet a sure thing. They too may be receiving a letter from the Pope that requires “per molti.” As they say, watch this space.

  11. Part of the problem lies in the Congregation, whose staff and consultants are often ignoramuses. And I know that they read this blog because occasionally I get emails from one or two of them citing my comments. What a pity that they don’t learn anything from the scholarship that is available here and elsewhere.

    The other part lies with Bishops’ Conferences who did not, for whatever reason, feel able to say to the pen-pushers in the Congregation “Look here, we’re the bosses and you are the servants, not the other way round. So you will do what we say, as Vatican II provided for. End of story.”

    I remember Basil Hume at a meeting saying “No b*gger [and he did use the swear-word] in Rome’s going to tell me how to run my diocese”. A bit more of that sort of spirit and we wouldn’t be in the predicament we are in today.

    I honestly don’t think BXVI has a clue what’s going on. He’s just trying to bring about peace. His information comes from what those around him tell him, which is not always a reliable guide.

    Once again, I remember how the Westminster curia surrounded Basil Hume when he first arrived as archbishop, trying to fence him in. It took him six months to get to the point where he could burst free from his shackles, using the “muscles” he had developed by ruling as an abbot. Everyone hoped that BXVI would do the same, given his inside knowledge of the way the Roman Curia works. Sadly, that hope remains unfulfilled, and he is now an old man with no energy for that kind of thing.

  12. I proclaimed the Second Reading (1st Letter of John 2:1-5a) in our parish church this weekend and these lines suddenly reminded me of the bad taste and confusion that the “for many” words used in the Consecration has caused among the English-speaking world: “he [Jesus] is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, BUT THE WHOLE WORLD’S. [stress mine]”

    I am getting worried as the bishops in the Philippines (where I came from) will be implementing the new English translation in Advent 2012. In a country where English is the lingua franca, a poor translation such as the current Roman missal won’t be uplifting.

    Much worried when the current Filipino translation would be re-done (in light with this drive to make all texts faithful to the Latin text).

    I just hope that the Filipino bishops would assert their role as shepherds, something that they have abandoned as far as the new English translation is concerned.

    I agree with Paul Inwood’s view regarding the Pope not having a clue what’s going on. And although “his [the Pope’s] comes from what those around him tell him], I think at the end of the day it’s his responsibility to put the Church in order.

    1. Exactly my sentiments, Pietro. I also made sure that my listeners heard “whole world” when I read the passage last Sunday. Would that it were echoed in thousands of assemblies!

    2. Unfortunately, in a country where the bishops (and Catholic groups) are showing their unconditional loyalty by making the kind of “culture war” issues (like contraception even) central to Catholic identity, I can’t count on that kind of independence.

  13. Interesting that Pope is not capitalized anywhere in the article. Shouldn’t it be? I thought it is a title like President, or Queen and should be capitalized. I stand to be corrected if wrong. I think the Pope is correct that a universal translation will reflect the same thoughts in everyone. There is already too much divergence with the vernacular. I am glad the record has been set straight.

    1. The usual rule in modern style guides is ‘Capitalise civil, military, religious, and professional titles only where they immediately precede the name.’ Hence ‘Pope Jehosaphat wrote an encyclical about the authority of the pope.’

      You could argue that, since there is only one (Roman Catholic) pope at a time, ‘the Pope’ is a proper name and should be capitalised in a sentence such as ‘The Pope will visit Australia in 2013.’ A similar argument could apply to the Queen.

      Newspaper style guides discourage excess capitalisation. This compliation suggests cutting capitals to a minimum. In practice, papers seem a bit schizoid about this. The Guardian guide says to capitalise titles but not job descriptions – ‘President Obama’ but ‘the US president’. It calls for the Queen to be capitalised but not the pope.

      The Economist Style Guide is more consistent: “President Bush, but the presidentPope Benedict, but the pope; Queen Elizabeth, but the queen.“

    2. There is no “correct” usage on capitalization – it has varied much across time and continues to vary. Style sheets abound. As you perhaps know, ‘papa’ (and other such titles) were not capitalized in medieval Latin documents.

      awr

  14. Anglicans have had “for many” in the Book of Common Prayer for a long time now, and I don’t recall any major controversies (but perhaps I’ve missed some?)…

    …he gave it to them, saying, “Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins. Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me.”

    …he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

  15. I hope things unfold in a better way in Germany than here. I didn’t get used to the new missal, as people predicted would happen. I disliked the “for many” at first, then I hated it, then I developed an allergic reaction. Now I don’t even want to discuss it. I am done with the new missal.

    I’m still adjusting to the Mass and in a paradoxical way it’s a chance for me to develop my appreciation for everything that is not the new missal. If one day the liturgy goes to Latin or Aramaic, I will be ready: I have stopped listening.

    1. What a tragic, comical farce. With an 85 year old pope abdicating his own leadership by turning to the German hierarchy to interpret “pro multis”? While the Italian bishops do their own thing? Who exactly is in charge here?

      Does anyone in or outside Germany and Italy pay much attention to what their episcopal conference says or does about the use of “pro multis”, or anything else for that matter? Just as more people seem to be finding fault with the current missal in a number of areas. I suspect the top of the pyramid is being shaken by issues of a far greater magnitude than squabbles over interpretations of liturgical texts.

  16. Steve Millies :

    To say there is “no salvation” simply cannot be for us to say: it lacks subtlety, presumes too much understanding. Indeed, this leads us to my more urgent point, which is that we should not put our own padlock on the gates of salvation at the summit of the liturgy, within the Words of Institution, and esteem ourselves to be some privileged minority, an almost Calvinist Elect gazing down on the rest of the world (as the SSPX seem to me to do with their triumphalist invocations of EENS). It’s so dissonant within the context of the Mass that, as I say, it has become an unbearable obstacle within the liturgy…as least, for me.

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

  17. In his introductory post, Fr. Ruff writes that [t]here is no “wörtlich” translation, strictly speaking. Every translation makes some sort of decision – an interpretation – about what the “inhalt” is or how it is to be expressed. (my substitution in brackets)

    The realization that a wörtlich translation does not exist, and that all is inhalt also arises out of the academic disciplines of drama, linguistics, literary studies, liturgical studies, and philology. The institution narrative in liturgy is inseparably historical, performative, and theological. An attempt to isolate any one of these aspects within a liturgical translation might result in the disconnect displayed between the colloquial English understanding of “many” and the institution narratives of the Roman Missal.

    Perhaps for the next revision, ICEL might invite scholars from across Christian communities, the abrahamic faiths, and “secular academia” (is there a way to separate ‘secular’ from ‘sectarian’ in this context?) to explore a methodology for an English translation of the institution narrative. Academic scholarship is one way in which to recognize that interpretation is not only constantly advancing but also thoroughly critical.

    Academic collaboration also recognizes that the cultural understanding of the institution narrative is partially hidden within the ecclesiological, liturgical, and theological life of Protestant communities, for one example. For while there might be a shared points of basal verba theology across Christianity, there is no unambiguous colloquial Catholic meme for “institution narrative”. The necessary confluence of Catholic and Protestant thought within cultures influenced by post-reformation western Christianity necessitates an even more critical focus on the inhalt of the verba.

  18. If ‘pour la multitude’ is good enough for the French, why can’t the Northern European languages be allowed to say something similar? ‘For the multitude’ might do the job.

    It seems quite ironical that the French, whose language is closer to Latin than German and English, are allowed to use a phrase which is further from the Latin than that which is being imposed on the Germanic languages.

  19. As an Anglican, I have lived with “for many” for my entire life, & I fail to see why people get so worked up about it. I’ve never seen it as exclusive, but rather saying what is true.
    I suspect (no proof) that the current determination to uphold the trad. transl’n of “for many” against the innovation of “for all” (other than any innate resistance to change) may be as a counter to the current creep towards Universalism, whereby all are saved & none is lost.
    Many, as far as I can see, will avail themselves of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, for though available to all, some won’t.
    Changing to “for all” in the previous transln. re-inforced the mistaken notion (so prevalent in the last 40 years, as anyone who regularly officiates at funerals will bear witness) that no matter what good old Uncle Joe has done, all is forgiven in death.
    So insisting on “for many” may lead to discussion, & reliable catechesis on what Christ’s sacrifice offers to all.
    “For many”/pro multis as English & Latin transln. of < huper/peri pollon since the beginning of the translns. “For you”, as Jeffrey P. pointed out (Ap 27, – 7:54am), became early added as a synthesis of the scriptural texts: “for you”, according to Jeremias, being a Pauline piece of dynamic equivalence of “for many” rendering the Words of Institution more immediate in the Eucharistic context for the gathered assembly.
    Those bishops who finally drew up the canon of the New Testament in the fourth century saw no conflict between their own Eucharistic practice & the N.T. accounts.
    As far as I can see, the case for changing nearly 2,000 years’ use of a word has not been made.
    But, if an alternative word is sought, for whatever reason, what might remember that hoi polloi can also be translated “the masses” , with all its wonderful, not necessarily pejorative, connotations of the “great unwashed”.
    I rather like the idea that Jesus died for the great unwashed, offering the…

  20. [Concluded]
    I rather like the idea that Jesus died for the great unwashed, offering them Baptism, the great washing in the Blood of the Lamb.

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