Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Great News: "Pro-Multis"

Long post warning. I'll do my best to break it up in Q&A format.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf was attempting to keep the news off the web until the proper authorities could announce the news. I had discovered it on a blog last night, of Fr. Tim Finigan who is visiting Rome, who mentioned in his writings that rumors were swirling there about a soon-to-be released letter on "pro-multis". Someone tipped Fr. Z off about the blog post, and he finally conceded that this was the big news. He talks about potential imprudence for it showing up on the web, but I'm more inclined to think that a priest visiting Rome hearing a rumor swirl and talking about it on his blog is no more imprudent than those who originally leaked the information, and all of those participating in the Rome rumor mill on the ground and in emails (mea culpa!). But, the word is out and since it will be all over Catholic blogdom by bloggers with far greater readerships than mine, here we go....

What is the pro-multis issue?

Readers of Fr. Zuhlsdorf's, What Does the Prayer Really Say column in The Wanderer, and in his blog of the same name, likely already know as he has written extensively on this issue. But for the novice, and even some priests who have not really spent any amount of time contemplating or studying the issue in depth, it will appear - on the surface - to be "another concession to the SSPX". I disagree wholeheartedly, and I am indeed a novice. It has far greater spiritual implications to me, than some would have us believe. Just watch the secular press and mainstream Catholic media on this issue and see if any of what you read here, and especially at the blog of Fr. Z will be found in their explanations.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has 4, lengthy and very detailed posts on the pro-multis issue. I recommend following those links (bottom) after you read this overview if you want to plunge in more deeply with scripture, translation specifics (latin, greek) - for which Fr. Z is particularly gifted - and many twists and turns in history on this matter.

In which part of the Mass is the "pro-multis"?

Here it is, setting aside any other translation issues there may or may not be here. My comment in red brackets
ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said: Take this all of you and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all [for many] so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

Sound familiar now?

What is the problem with "for all?"

Two things stand out for me on this issue, and there are others for which you will have to read all of Fr. Zuhlsdorfs prior posts.

  1. Fr. Z sums the first problem up with the statement below: Not all are saved, as some would like to believe. This is from his first of four discussion posts on pro-multis:
The Church’s teaching is clear. This is our Catholic faith: Christ died for all but not all will be saved. Many will be saved. Many can be a huge number, a multitude so vast it defies human imagining but not God’s ability to number. Lacking even one, not all are saved.

  1. You will have to read his second post on pro-multis in order to get all of the back ground for this next one. After quoting Fr. Max Zerwick, SJ (writing of 1970, I believe) - A Biblical Scholar, Fr. Z observes:
Here is what Zerwick is saying. First, scholars of Aramaic say that Jesus really meant “for many”. Second, our formula pro multis doesn’t exclude the concept “all” but it causes us to think that “all” are not included in Jesus’ saving work. Third, even if the formula “for many” admittedly sounds like all will in fact be saved, certainly no Catholic thinks that way. Therefore, we can and should use the phrase “for all” because it sounds better.

I must make an observation. Zerwick says that because Catholics know what the Church teaches and do not believe that all are saved even through Jesus died for all, we can safely use the “for all”: Catholics will hear it in the right way, not the wrong way. Go to a funeral in a Catholic church today. Listen to how priests preach and people talk. You hear virtually, only, the concept that all are in fact saved. When people die, they go to heaven automatically. This is a perfect example of the rule lex orandi lex credendi … how we pray has a reciprocal relationship with what we believe. If you believe something, you will pray in a certain way even while by praying in a certain way you will come to believe what you pray. Catholics have been made to pray a certain way for decades and, over time, we have come to believe what we hear: all are saved because that is what the phrase “for all” in the consecration sounds like. Zerwick was right in one respect: if Catholics were well instructed and their knowledge of doctrine secure, “for all” could work. Zerwick was fatally wrong in another respect: he couldn’t imagine in 1970 what things would look like in thirty years … or could he? Either way, catechism is the key.

Is this a "concession" to schismatic Catholics in trying to lure them back?

The short answer: Absolutely not! Many cradle Catholics, convert Catholics, theologians, priests, religious, scholars, non-scholars, and ordinary lay people have taken issue with this wording and will be delighted with the announcement when it is made.

Aside from this, some have considered the "for all" translation to be heretical - a potential stumbling block in the Vatican's attempt to bring certain schismatic Catholics back into the fold. While many of these people assist at Masses in Latin, it could be difficult for them to come back to the church when certain vernacular versions of the Mass have wording they consider heretical. To my mind, the fix is a simple one and suffice it to say, is it is hardly any kind of concession to these folks as you may hear in secular and mainstream Catholic press.

Conclusion of this post

I have only scratched the surface. Where you really need to go is to Fr. Zuhlsdorf's blog if you want to dive in more deeply. It will be spun every which way but loose "out there", so learn the facts.

Fr. Z's collection of articles written on pro-multis in one post

Fr. Z's breaks silence on the "great news"

In conclusion, I am personally very greatful to the Lord, and to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI for this simple, yet profound fix (even before it is formally announced). I have learned in the past year not to blow off such ordinary things without reading more deeply into spiritual meanings. We are in a culture that currently lives as if one good act will save our souls, when reality is that one bad act (unrepented mortal sin) cannot be waived for even for a single good act without repentance of the bad. Banal, softened, and even dummed-down language has not helped at all. Just the discussions that will come out of this will aid with deeper reflections of spiritual issues to which these ordinary and simple things are tied.

Hopefully next: Consubstantial!


PaulaB52 said...

You know, when I was a kid in the 70's, the priest used to say "for many". Granted, we went to Mass in a very small, rural parish in Louisiana. I think VII changes were really slow to come to our area. Women covered their heads will into the mid-80's.

When we returned to the church in early 2000, I was suprised by the difference from the 80's. Like hand holding during the Our Father and the "for all".

I've been meaning to tell you, my family and I found a NO Latin/English chanted Mass here in our town. I spoke with the Music Director and we spoke at lenght. I told him he had the best kept secret in our town LOL. We've attended this Mass for the last 3 week and it' been wonderful. Thanks again for your help.

Diane said...

Are you the one I spoke to in email about this? If so, email me.

Fungulo said...

'Consubstantial' has already been agreed by all the English-speaking bishops.

Diane said...

Not the USCCB. From Adoremus - the transcript of discussions on "consubstantial"

Archbishop Hughes: I would propose a return to the ICEL text in the Creed, which translates consubstantialis “consubstantial”. I am addressing really the same issue in the three amendments: 11, 12 and 13. And I recognize the pastoral reasons that could be offered in support of remaining with the text we have been using: “one in being”.

But “consubstantial” is a very significant term in the history of Christological controversy. It does express a profound truth that I think is important for us to preserve in the liturgical text. And as we return this to the liturgical text, it provides an opportunity for catechesis of our people.

Bishop Trautman: Thank you very much. The Committee certainly spent much time debating this very issue, and we are aware of the several consultations we’ve had and the significant number of bishops who asked for return to the language “one in being with the Father” for the understanding of our people. We also noted in the document Liturgiam authenticam the possibility there of having certain words changed. I don’t have in front of me the exact number, but it is in the document Liturgiam authenticam that they mention this particular word. So we thought we were well within the parameters of the document in going with the return to “one in being with the Father”.

Bishop Skylstad: Okay. Yes, Cardinal George.

Cardinal Francis George (Chicago, vice-president of USCCB, US representative to ICEL): Just to fill out the debate. For your own — for the conversation. I listened to the ICEL debates and listened also, as a consultant, to the BCL debates. The phrase that we use [“one in being”] is unique to the United States in the English-speaking world. And I proposed it several times to the full ICEL group. You should at least know their objections to it.

Their objection to our usage — which is unique — consistently, was that “being” in our translation can be treated as a participle rather than as a substantive, which it should be. Sometimes we get around that by capitalizing “Being”. If it’s a participle then you’re saying he is one in being with the Father, and they thought that that didn’t sufficiently express the Trinitarian relationship that “consubstantial” — as a technical term — was meant to express. In other words we are being with one another here, but we’re not consubstantial with one another. So it was an inadequacy, they felt, in an expression of the faith. We, nonetheless remain, as Bishop Trautman said, free to put forward a translation that we have become accustomed to.

Bishop Trautman: Would Bishop Cupich by chance recall the reference to the document? Number 53 in the document Liturgiam authenticam does allow for this translation.

Bishop Skylstad: Thank you. Is there any further discussion or comment about Archbishop Hughes’s amendment? Yes, Archbishop DiNardo.

Archbishop Daniel DiNardo (Galveston-Houston): I want to support Archbishop Hughes in this. The argument given by those who proposed it had much to do with: it’s more understandable. Is it more understandable because the people just simply think they understand it?

If we add a technical term, which from the beginning of the creed is a technical term, like “consubstantial”, would this invite, as Archbishop Hughes says, further catechesis, which to my mind is obviously necessary in dealing with the Creed? I support Archbishop Hughes. Thank you.

Bishop Trautman: Again, the position of the committee would be pastoral sensitivity to our people. Also noting that the document itself allows for this translation.

Bishop Skylstad: Thank you. Archbishop Lipscomb.

Archbishop Lipscomb (Mobile, member Vox Clara): First my thanks to the committee. I don’t know of any liturgical committee of conferences that have worked so intensely for so happy a result. But I too rise to support Archbishop Hughes’s concerns about the word “consubstantial”. “Being” is subject to an easy understanding, but it seems to me it is also a possibility for there being some misunderstanding.

We talked this morning — at least it was mentioned this morning — all these changes should require a certain amount of catechesis, of explanation, and of giving an opportunity for the people who are going to listen to them, to use them, to grow in faith, not simply to remain where they are.

There is a terrible kind of bias against philosophy, against precision and against exactitude in speaking the truth in today’s world.

“Substance” is itself a word that cannot find an acceptable definition in annals of philosophy and sometimes in our own conversation. It was a very precise word used by the Church for a long time to define what exactly happens in the Divine Essence with respect to three Persons. It is used in a way that many people object to with regard to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. For us to miss the chance to challenge to a greater growth and a deeper sense of understanding simply because our people cannot take this, it seems to me, is to sell those individuals short who might have a distinct understanding of this given the chance. I too feel that “consubstantial” ought to remain in the document.

Bishop Skylstad: All right, thank you. The next person to speak will be Bishop Vigneron, followed by Archbishop Myers.

Bishop Allen Vigneron (Oakland): Before I make my point, I want to echo what Archbishop Lipscomb said. To give thanks to the committee. I worked on this committee in the past and it seems to me what you present us is quite a remarkable achievement.

I do support what Archbishop Hughes says on one general point of view......

continue reading at Adoremus by hitting the link at the top of this comment.