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“For You and for All” Goes Into the Dustbin

by Christopher A. Ferrara

For nearly forty years the Church has suffered the indignity of a translation of the Latin text of the Mass of Paul VI which converted the words of Our Lord over the Chalice of His Blood, pro vobis et pro multis (“for you and for many”) into pro vobis et pro omnibus (“for you and for all”). In his renowned work The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, which offers a devastating critique of the New Mass, Monsignor Klaus Gamber said of this translation: “Truly problematic, in fact truly scandalous, is the translation of the phrase pro multis as ‘for all,’ a translation inspired by modern theological thinking but not to be found in any historical liturgical text (pp. 55-56).”

In his French language preface to Gamber’s book, the currently reigning Pope, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, praised Gamber for having “the vigilance of a true prophet and the courage of a true witness” and an “incredibly rich knowledge” of the liturgy and its legitimate development. And now, by the decision of Pope Benedict himself in October, “for all” is to be removed from all liturgical texts and replaced with “for many” or its equivalent in the various vernacular translations of the New Mass.

This is not linguistic nitpicking but a serious theological issue. The Church has always taught, as the Roman Catechism insists, that while our Lord’s Passion “objectively” redeems all men, only the elect — the “many” — benefit from the Passion “subjectively” unto salvation by corresponding to grace and dying in a state of grace. Hence, as Our Lord Himself declares in the Gospel of Saint John, “I do not pray for the world, but for the ones you have given me…” — that is, for the elect, and not for “all men.”

As the Roman Catechism concludes, therefore, Our Lord was not speaking of the objective redemption at the Last Supper, when He offered the first Mass, but only of the elect: “With great propriety were the words for all omitted [by Christ], because here the fruit of the passion alone is spoken of [by Christ], and to the elect only did His passion bring the fruit of salvation.”

By putting the words “for all” into the mouth of Our Lord, the errant translators of the New Mass were falsely suggesting that the sacrifice of the Mass will obtain the salvation of all men. This is why Gamber (with the evident approval of no less than Cardinal Ratzinger) called the mistranslation “truly problematic, and in fact truly scandalous…” That, in fact, is what it is!

Now, the use of “for all” was never imposed upon the Church by any universal disciplinary command of any Pope. Rather, it was requested by local bishops’ conferences and merely allowed (not imposed) by permission of a Vatican dicastery, the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW). The CDW is not the Pope and does not possess the Pope’s charism of infallibility.

Hence, in announcing Pope Benedict’s decision to abolish “for all” throughout the world, Cardinal Arinze, current head of the CDW, was able to dispense with what the CDW had permitted in a single sentence: “A text corresponding to the words ‘pro multis’, handed down by the Church, constitutes the formula that has been in use in the Roman Rite in Latin from the earliest centuries. In the past 30 years or so, some approved vernacular texts have carried the interpretive translation ‘for all’, ‘per tutti’, or equivalents.”

This “interpretative” translation, I hasten to add, was not a faithful translation, as Cardinal Arinze himself observes: “‘For many’ is a faithful translation of pro multis, whereas ‘for all’ is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis.” That is, the translators of the New Mass dared to make of Our Lord a catechist for the point they wanted to make, rather than what Our Lord Himself was actually saying at the Last Supper. The sheer arrogance involved here is breathtaking.

As the Cardinal notes, however, while the Church has handed down pro multis from time immemorial, the Church has most certainly not handed down “for all” (or indeed the New Mass itself!). The Church is now getting rid of “for all” by order of the Pope. That is the difference between what the Church hands down, which cannot be done away with, and what she merely allows by way of local permission.

So, “for all” is being tossed into the dustbin of ephemeral novelties, which is where it belongs. We can only hope and pray that this is a first step toward the inevitable restoration of the traditional Latin Mass as the norm of the Church — exactly what Msgr. Gamber (again, with the approval of the currently reigning Pope) called for in Reform of the Roman Liturgy.

It has to be said that here again the organs of postconciliar correctness — The Wanderer, EWTN, Catholic Answers, and so forth — have been shown to be in error. Just as they defended Cardinal Sodano’s party line on the consecration of Russia and the Third Secret of Fatima (“all in the past,” they assured us), only to be exposed as false prophets by the rapid decline of Russia, the Church and the world since the Consecration-that-Wasn’t in 1984, so did they doggedly defend “for all” as a perfectly legitimate translation of pro multis.

And just as the Pope has pulled the rug out from under these defenders of novelty on the pro multis question, so also will the Pope — if not this one, then the next — prove them wrong on the Message of Fatima. And it will not end there. The liturgy will be restored completely just as surely as the Message of Fatima will be fulfilled completely. Indeed, all that has gone wrong in the Church, all the erring novelties the forces of postconciliar correctness have defended in the name of a false “obedience,” will be made right again in God’s good time. This, and nothing less than this, will constitute the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The only question — and it is a fearful one — is how much the Church and the world will first have to suffer on account of the resistance of those who have so heavily invested themselves in the current status quo of apostasy and confusion that is doubtless foretold in the Third Secret.