Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pro Multis

"The current translation of the words of Jesus over the cup has been changed in accord with the method of literal translation. The words “it will be shed for you and for all” have been revised to read “which will be poured out for you and for many” because the original Latin says pro multis (for many), not pro omnibus (for all). The new translation ignores the exegetical context of the words Jesus pronounced at the Last Supper. He was not restricting his offer of salvation to a group of people. His sacrifice was for all, as the New Testament affirms again and again, although every one must welcome in faith his offer of salvation. The apprehension that the word “all” might be interpreted as automatic salvation for all does not justify the shift to “many”. In most languages “many” and “all” are not mutually inclusive. As it stands, the new English translation of pro multis does not render faithfully what Jesus declared at the Last Supper...In 2006 the Congregation for Divine Worship sent a letter to the presidents of the conferences of bishops regarding the translation of pro multis. It urged them to correct the current translation “for all”, because the Latin text says “for many”. It elucidates that the phrase “for many” is the exact translation, while “for all” is not a translation but a catechetical explanation of the words Jesus pronounced over the cup. Biblical exegetes, like Albert Vanhoye, beg to differ." (Fr. Anscar Chupungco, WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THE ENGLISH LITURGY?)

By saying "The new English translation of pro multis does not render faithfully what Jesus declared at the Last Supper," is Fr. Chupungco implying that ICEL's mistranslation of pro multis to "for all men" is the faithful rendition of our Lord's words? He invokes the ignorance of "the exegetical context of the words of Jesus pronounced at the Last Supper" for the insistence on behalf of the more literal translation of pro multis to "for many". While invoking the authority of modern exegesis, Fr. Chupungco disregards what the Catechism of the Council of Trent said about the matter: "The additional words for you and for many, are taken, some from Matthew (26:28), some from Luke (22:20), but were joined together by the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Spirit of God. They serve to declare the fruit and advantage of His Passion. For if we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed His blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race. When therefore (our Lord) said: for you, He meant either those who were present, or those present or those chosen from among the Jewish people, such as were, with the exception of Judas, the disciples with whom He was speaking. When He added, And for many, He wished to be understood to mean the remainder of the elect from among the Jews or Gentiles.

With reason, therefore, were the words for all not used, as in this place the fruits of the Passion are alone spoken of, and to the elect only did His Passion bring the fruit of salvation. And this is the purport of the Apostle when he says: Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many (Heb. 9:28); and also the words of our Lord in John: I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them whom thou hast given me, because they are thine (Jn. 17:9)." (J. McHugh and C. Callian, Catechism of the Council of Trent, 227-28.)

St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church, has this to say about the matter: "The words pro vobis et pro multis are used to distinguish the virtue of the blood of Christ from its fruits; for the blood of our Savior is of sufficient value to save all men, but its fruits are applicable only to a cetain number and not to all, and this is their own fault. Or, as the theologians say, this precious blood is (in itself) sufficiently (sufficienter) able to save all men, but (on our part) effectually (efficaciter) it does not save all - it saves only those who cooperate with grace." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Treatise on the Holy Eucharist.)

Well, of course, Fr. Chupungco's party will say that I quote from pre-Vatican II sources and such already speaks of ignorance about modern exegesis. But is this not what St. Pius X warned us of? I think that his warning about the Modernists' bias against the Fathers of the Church can also speak for their bias against anything that is associated with Tradition:

"The Modernists pass judgement on the holy Fathers of the Church even as they do upon Tradition. With consummate temerity they assure the public that the Fathers, while personally most worthy of all veneration, were entrirely ignorant of history and criticism, for which they are only excusable on account of the time in which they lived." (Pope Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 8 September 1907, 42.)
Fr. Chupungco mentioned that in 2006, the CDW sent a letter to the presidents of the episcopal conferences urging them to correct the translation "for all" because the Latin text says "for many." I could not remember the CBCP or even my own bishop sending any circular directing the correction of the translation "for all" to "for many." Why is it so? Is it because the Philippine bishops regard Fr. Chupungco as the only liturgical authority? How about the authority of the Holy See? I think we should remember that theologians, no matter how brilliant they are, should not see themselves as above the Holy See. Episcopal conferences, while relying on the expertise of their consultants, must give the letters from the Holy See greater weight than the opinion of their experts.

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