Died for "MANY" or for "ALL" controversy

I am aware of a controversy over the new Liturgy which may replace died for “all” with died for “many” because it is supposed to be more faithful the Latin version from which it was derived. In google searching, I’ve not found any great treatments of the controversy. Can anyone share some links to some good analyses of this or other issues with the reformed Liturgy or share your own ideas? Thank you.

You’ll probably want to read Cardinal Arinze’s letter to bishops about it, then. There’s an article about it here, and the letter itself is here.

A lot has to do with misunderstanding in how the 2 words are intended.

If we say that Christ died for ALL, we mean that His sacrifice made reconciliation with God *available *to all people, not that all people actually are reconciled.

If we say that Christ died for MANY, we refer to those who actually are reconciled with God.

I’m not sure why it’s such a controversy. Just because someone doesn’t like the more accurate translation because it’s not all inclusive doesn’t mean it’s not right.

We need to strive for accuracy and Truth - not just appeasing feelings.

Words mean things. If “many” is more accurate, then that’s what it needs to be. Period. If someone can’t handle that then they need to understand why they have issues with accuracy in translations and fix whatever defect exists within themselves so they are in line with Church teaching.


May the Peace of our Lord be with you. I do appreciate your sources.:blessyou:

Well I have to thank Mark (again). In the article that addressed Card. Arinze’s letter, one poster posted something that makes some sense. Yes, Jesus died for ALL, and salvation is available to all. But not all will avail themselves. But in the consecration, the “sacrament signifies the thing it effects, and effects the thing it signifies.” So, the language of the liturgy is sacramentally correct in using the term MANY. It is also true that Jesus shed his blood for ALL, but not appropriate in a sacramental context where MANY more accurately describes those who will partake of the sacrament. I’m not saying I’m yet convinced of anything one way or another, but that is certainly an interesting approach.

I did not realize that this controversy about this language in the new missal has been going on since at least 2006 and that the language of the consecration in particular has been a major concern for some ever since the introduction of the vernacular Mass, causing some to question whether transubstantiation has been occurring.

Here is what the CDWDS noted back in October 2006:

There are, however, many arguments in favour of a more precise rendering of the traditional formula pro multis:

a. The Synoptic Gospels (Mt 26,28; Mk 14,24) make specific reference to “many” (pollvn) 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”, and the words have been faithfully translated thus in most modern biblical versions.

b. The Roman Rite in Latin has always said pro multis and never pro omnibus in the consecration of the chalice.

c. The anaphoras of the various Oriental Rites, whether in Greek, Syriac, Armenian, the Slavic languages, etc., contain the verbal equivalent of the Latin pro multis in their respective languages.

d. “For many” is a faithful translation of pro multis, whereas “for all” is rather an explanation of the sort that belongs properly to catechesis.

e. The expression “for many”, while remaining open to the inclusion of each human person, is reflective also of the fact that this salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one’s willing or participation; rather, the believer is invited to accept in faith the gift that is being offered and to receive the supernatural life that is given to those who participate in this mystery, living it out in their lives as well so as to be numbered among the “many” to whom the text refers.

f. In line with the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam, effort should be made to be more faithful to the Latin texts in the typical editions.

In fact, in one of his pre-Papal writings, Pope Benedict XVI made a strong case for “pro multis.”

Latin scholars please correct me if this is wrong, but has the translation “for the many” ever been entertained?

If you wish to reply, it doesn’t say “for the many”, it says “for many”, then please offer how one would say “for the many” in Latin with all the nuances that the English has.

I’m no Greek scholar, but my understanding is that the text of Mt. 26:28, which is not in Latin, means “for many,” not “for the many.” Greek can express the difference, unlike Latin. If anyone else can confirm or deny that, I’d be happy to hear it.
Added: The Greek, by the way, as I’ve found it is “τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν τὸ αἷμά μου τῆς διαθήκης τὸ περὶ πολλῶν ἐκχυννόμενον εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν.”

the new translation does say “for many”, although, I am not sure, but, I think that one of the translations for the EF missal goes something like this:


I apologize for having the all-caps type, but, that is how the text was when I copied it. Please do not take it to mean that I am yelling.

I cannot find my older translation of the OF (which predates what is in current use).

Thanks for this. If I understand correctly this gets at my question Let me paraphrase it to see if I understand:

The Latin cannot make the distinction between “for many” and “for the many”. However, the Greek can. The original Greek does translate as “for many” and in particular not “for the many” Whenever it is translated into Latin, it becomes somewhat ambiguous thus, as either of those forms show up as “pro multis”.

Is this an accurate statement of what you were trying to say? Then if so, can anyone corrobarate it?

=Super Grover;6654150]I am aware of a controversy over the new Liturgy which may replace died for “all” with died for “many” because it is supposed to be more faithful the Latin version from which it was derived. In google searching, I’ve not found any great treatments of the controversy. Can anyone share some links to some good analyses of this or other issues with the reformed Liturgy or share your own ideas? Thank you.

The terms are both correct as a matter of factual perspective.

Gods Divine Will

Is that each and every human person accept His Sacrifice and plea for salvations.

The Reality

The reason for “the many” is that it is factul reality.

Matt.22: 14 " For many are called, but few are chosen."

Matt.7:13 "“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. [14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

Yes, that’s what I was trying to say :slight_smile: So the point is, when there’s something ambiguous in the Latin, you may be able to resolve the ambiguity by reference to the original Greek. And the Latin is indeed ambiguous, although “for many” certainly seems to be the more natural translation, and if you were trying to express something like “for the many” in Latin (I’m not even sure how different it really is from “for many”), you would probably have picked a different construction.

I would also like to give you my thanks for providing such excellent information regarding an issue I quite frankly didn’t even know existed until today. It sadden’s me that so many Catholics choose to be schismatic over this issue however :frowning:

It’s an interesting question. In French, pro multis is translated as “pour la multitude” – for the multitude. The multitude can include all or just some.

You’re welcome all; and I think this issue is much more an excuse for, than a cause of, any schism. The schismatics don’t like the Mass of Paul VI in English, in Latin, in better English, in Spanish, in a box, with a fox, you name it.

The text from my 1966 missal reads:


I believe the significance of saying “many” versus “the many” is in whether the usage is intended to be a colloquialism that essentially means “all”. “*The *many” or “*the *multitude” could be interpreted as a Semitic expression which means “everyone”.

In any case, the point of saying that Christ shed his blood for *many *is not supposed to be a quibble over the words “many” versus “all”. For one thing, the institution words used by Christ are probably a reference to Isaiah 53:12 which speaks of the Suffering Servant taking away the sins of many. Also, as is suggested by Hebrews chapters 9 and 10, the “many” saved by Christ should be understood to be a contrast to to the few people forgiven by the many sacrifices of the Old Testament high priests.

The point of using the word “many” in the Latin is to be faithful to the Old Testament and New Testament references. But the word is not intended to express a ***limit ***on how many people are saved but rather imply an ***increase ***in the number who can/will be saved.

What if it were “a” many? And what percentage of the whole is “many” anyway? Maybe the Greek is more on the side of a few rather than most or just slightly less than all?

Inquisitive minds, you know. I’d like to know my odds if it’s not the all. :slight_smile:

Just divide 144,000 by 6 billion – 0.0024%. Good luck my friend! :slight_smile:

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