Friday, February 2, 2007

The other side of the liturgical dialogue

In all my recent posts on the liturgy and its direction under Pope Benedict XVI, beginning with my post on what I proposed as the basis of Pope Benedict XVI's liturgical agenda, I have stated that there is another side of this dialogue within the Church. Today, with a diaconal nod to Rocco over at Whispers, I can provide the other side, including the background and basis for rendering the Latin pro multis as for all, instead of the more literal for many. The response comes from the much maligned Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pennsylvania, who is doing his second tour of duty as chairman U.S. Bishops' Committee for Divine Worship (BCDW), a thankless job, that requires a selfless servant, like Bishop Trautman, in an article from this week's Tablet (Rocco is the Tablet's U.S. correspondent), entitled A pastoral deficit. In which, commenting on the newly approved English translation of the Order of the Mass, he asks, How truly pastoral is it?"

For example, examing the pro multis controversy, Bishop Trautman writes:

"Other changes have profound theological implications. The Pope announced recently that in the new Missal the words prayed over the cup will be changed. Now we pray: 'This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant; it will be shed for you and for all'. These words will be changed to 'for you and for many'. It is the clear, certain teaching of the Catholic Church that Christ died for all. So what is behind the change? The reason given is that 'for many' represents a more accurate translation of the Latin phrase pro multis....

"the term 'many' is a Hebrew word that means 'for everyone', since there was no Hebrew word 'for all'. The term was originally inclusive and signified 'everybody'. The Jesuit scholar Max Zerwick's Philological Analysis of the Greek New Testament is still an unsurpassed authority. On Matthew 26: 28 Zerwick explains that polloi, the Greek for 'the many', translates a Semitic expression that can signify a multitude and at the same time a totality. It means 'all (who are many)'.

This was strongly affirmed by the Congregation for Divine Worship in 1970 when the Congregation commissioned Zerwick to research and write an article on the meaning of pro multis. That article was published in the official organ of that Congregation (Notitiae) in May 1970 (pages 138-140). It states: 'According to exegetes, the Aramaic word which in Latin is translated ‘pro multis' means "pro omnibus": the multitude for whom Christ died is unbounded, which is the same as saying: Christ died for all. St Augustine will help recall this: "You see what He hath given; find out then what He bought. The Blood of Christ was the price. What is equal to this? What, but the whole world? What, but all nations?" '

"In 1970 the Congregation for Divine Worship made a definitive judgement and published it in its official organ. What reasons now compel the Holy See to reverse itself? The English word 'many' is normally taken to exclude some. The Pope's decision to revert to this literal translation does not seem to express in English the true meaning of the phrase. 'Many' does not mean everyone. On a pastoral level we must have from the Vatican a better rationale for this major change than what has been given. With full respect and love for the Holy See, we need a pastoral explanation for the people. Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, concedes that 'for many' does not convey at face value the Lord's universal salvific intent, but that this belongs to catechesis. Is not the liturgy the best form of catechesis? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: 'The liturgy is the privileged place for catechising the people of God' (Paragraph 1074)...."


The article is well worth reading and considering. Just as I am critical of those who want undo what has been done, including some who want to return the Latin Mass, it does not seem that Bishop Trautman fully addresses the liturgical silliness that abounds. Again, it seems to me that the liturgical positions of Msgr. M. Francis Mannion, expounded throughout most of the 1990s, are the most well-balanced of those with which I am familiar, which is by no means all.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that Mannion's thoughts on matters liturgical are some of the best and most common sense around.

    Trautman on the other hand I have little use for. During his first term the BCL did a great deal of damage especially with regards to 'inclusive language'. To a great degree Trautman himself is responsible for much of the liturgical non-sense plaguing the Church right now. I cringed when he was elected chairman of the BCL a second time.

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