Small word, big problem

Fr. William Grimm argues in the Union of Catholic Asian News that the translation of pro multis as “for many” instead of “for the many” will introduce a heresy into the Mass. Oh well.


    1. I agree. I’m not sure that this particular line of translation involves heresy at all.

      I do believe that some parts of the coming translation are close to heresy, and I will point them out if that turns out to be the final version – but this will only be when the final version is released. So far I’ve tried to be carefuly in my wording, and say that it’s dangerously close to heresy, and not charge outright that it is heresy.


    1. +JMJ+

      Thanks, John.

      I’m up against a wall, though, I think. They’ve already made up their minds that the change is terrible, and they will not listen to the reasons already given by the bishops and curia. And I doubt any new argument will move them, since it will be seen (ironically) as an innovation, that is, an after-the-fact justification rather than a before-the-fact rationale.

  1. John, Jeffrey et al –
    I’m not one who had my mind made up. I was a supporter of LA from the outset. I don’t like the current translation & I’ve long wanted something both more accurate (to use a slippery term) and more elevated/beautiful. Gradually I began to notice problems, especially in the proposed collects which seemed unwieldy and not well suited to proclamation. As I kept thinking and pondering and listening to others (and praying), I came to see that 1998 is much better liturgical language, and what we’re getting is far inferior. Then the whole thing got sabatoged and I saw how bad the texts are in the version given to the Pope. Now I think it’s rather difficult to talk about the “reasons” of the “bishops and curia,” since the changes are so erratic, incompetent, and inconsistent – there aren’t any “reasons” that hold up, since they were reasons for a very different translation, the one approved by bishops.

    I admit that the Pope’s morally scandalous (non)response to the sex abuse crisis made me much more willing to critique what is wrong in our structures. I began to see (or admit) how power has been abused, and many have been hurt, in the translation process.

    So, for the record: I started out firmly on Rome’s side. It is they whose behavior pushed me away from them. I don’t think I can be accused of making up my mind ahead of time. Rather, I’ve kept using my mind these last 10 years.


      1. Jeffrey – after I hit “Submit” I began to think that you weren’t talking about the translation in general, which I responded to. So thanks for confirming that. Oh well – it allowed me to say some things I wanted to anyway – I hope not too off subject.

  2. Hmmm. . . Jansenism. Well, Arianism has been tried, too. The line in the preface of Eucharistic Prayer IV that asserts ” you are the one God, living and true” was first translated in the 1970s as “you alone are God living and true” in a statement addressed to the Father.

    Of course, Episcopalians followed Rome on this one and introduced the “you alone” version into the BCP (Eucharistic Prayer D). Rome caught the error and changed it, but it’s still “you alone” in the BCP.

    And yes, I take the liberty to correct the error of my own initiative whenever I use Prayer D. Disobedient, I know. But I’d rather be that than a heretic.

    All this aside, doesn’t liturgy naturally tend to be Docetistic? (Or is that just in Christmas Carols and Easter Hymns, fountains of heresy that they are?)

    1. +JMJ+

      The Gloria says “Tu solus sanctus,” etc. The common English translation is “You alone are the Holy One,” but we know it does mean Jesus Christ is “alone” — the Trinity is not alone, but in eternal communion — nor that only Jesus Christ is the Holy One — for that is true of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Of course, the Gloria continues, “… with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father.”

      1. I think the construction of the Gloria, with the cum Sancto Spiritu, negates a problem there; in the Preface to Eucharistic Prayer IV, the Latin reads quia unus es Deus, vivus et verus — “because you are one God, living and true,” which both the old/current and the new/forthcoming MR translations render satisfactorily as “you are the one God, etc.” No solus involved, which would be problematic in the context of that particular preface, as it makes no mention whatsoever of the other two persons of the Trinity while explicitly addressing the person of the Father.

  3. I agree that from time to time, perhaps when the moon is full twice in a month, multi can mean “the many” in Latin (almost always as “unus e multis” or something similar). I would like to point out, that Latin has a word that means “the many” and that is plerique. The idea that Latin in this situation is ambiguous because it lacks the def. article is ignorant and/or misleading.

    I will agree with the writer of the article that prepositions are really hard to grasp, and I suspect that our focus should not be on multis but on pro.

    It also gets thrown around that Aramaic uses the word “many” in the sense of “all”. That may be true (I’ve never seen it), but Aramaic does have a word for “all”, and I’ve never really seen any evidence that writers found it problematic to employ, unlike Greek which will often throw in “hos epos epein” to tone down the forcefulness of pas/hapas.

  4. “I admit that the Pope’s morally scandalous (non)response to the sex abuse crisis made me much more willing to critique what is wrong in our structures.”

    Same here. Thank you for being so explicit!

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