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Cardinal Francis Arinze
On October 17, 2006, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, wrote to the presidents of all conferences of bishops, concerning the translation of pro multis in the words of consecration of the Order of Mass.
CONGREGATIO DE CULTU DIVINO ET DISCIPLINA SACRAMENTORUM
Prot. no 467/05/L Rome
Rome, 17 October 2006
Your Eminence / Your Excellency,
In July 2005 this Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote to all presidents of conferences of bishops to ask their considered opinion regarding the translation into the various vernaculars of the expression pro multis in the formula for the consecration of the Precious Blood during the celebration of Holy Mass (ref. Prot. n. 467/05/L of 9 July 2005).
The replies received from the bishops’ conferences were studied by the two congregations and a report was made to the Holy Father. At his direction, this congregation now writes to Your Eminence / Your Excellency in the following terms:
1. 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.
The Synoptic Gospels (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24) make specific reference to “many” [Greek word transliterated as polloin] for whom the Lord is offering the Sacrifice, and this wording has been emphasized by some biblical scholars in connection with the words of the prophet Isaiah (53:11-12). It would have been entirely possible in the Gospel texts to have said “for all” (for example, cf. Luke 12:41); instead, the formula given in the institution narrative is “for many” the words have been faithfully translated thus in most modern biblical versions. The Roman Rite in Latin has always said pro multis and never pro omnibus in the consecration of the chalice.
4. The bishops’ conferences of those countries where the formula “for all” or its equivalent is currently in use are therefore requested to undertake the necessary catechesis of the faithful on this matter in the next one or two years to prepare them for the introduction of a precise vernacular translation of the formula pro multis (e.g, “for many,” per molti, etc.) in the next translation of the Roman Missal that the bishops and the Holy See will approve for use in their country.
With the expression of my high esteem and respect, I remain, Your Eminence/Your
Francis Cardinal Arinze