Fr. Lombardi on the Holy Father’s Letter about “pro multis”
I posted about the absence (and then the presence) of the Holy Father’s Letter to German bishops on the vatican.va site. HERE.
Here is the editorial of the papal spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, on the site of Vatican Radio (of which he is also the director). See if you can spot an “important” word, repeated. My emphases and comments:
Lombardi editorial: For you and for many
“For you and for many”
What did the Pope do while he was in Castel Gandolfo during the week after Easter? He put pen to paper and, writing in his native language, [NB] composed a very important letter which he addressed to the German bishops. [Very important... but still only available in German on the vatican.va site.] The letter, which was released a few days later, refers to the way in which the words of the Consecration of the chalice of the Lord’s sacred Blood are translated during the Mass. He favours the translation of the phrase “for many” – which is more faithful to the Biblical text – to the translation “for all,” a modification of the Biblical translation which was intended to clarify the universality of the salvation which was brought about by Christ.
Some will say that this distinction can only be appreciated by specialists. ["But Father! But Father!", you are saying even as you read, "That's not true!"] However, understanding this distinction helps to clarify what the Pope considers to be truly important, and the spiritual point of view from which he approaches it. The words which are used for the institution of the Eucharist are fundamentally important for Pope Benedict, because these words lie at the heart of the Church. By saying “for many,” Jesus is saying that he is the Servant of Yahweh who was foretold by the prophet Isaiah. When we say “for many,” therefore, we both express our fidelity to the word of Jesus, and recognize Jesus’ fidelity to the words of the Scripture. There is no doubt that Jesus died so that everyone might be saved. This, along with the profound significance of the words that are used for the institution of the Eucharist, should be explained to the faithful through the use of solid catechesis.
When the Lord offers himself “for you and for many,” we become directly involved and, in gratitude, we take on the responsibility for the salvation which is promised to everyone. [Nicely put.] The Holy Father – who has already touched upon this in his book about Jesus – is providing here profound and insightful catechesis about some of the most important words in the Christian Faith. The Pope concludes by saying that, in this Year of Faith, we must proceed with love and respect for the Word of God, reflecting on its profound theological and spiritual significance so that we might experience the Eucharist with greater depth. We hope to do so indeed.
The Letter is still available only in German on the vatican.va site, while the editorial of Fr. Lombardi is available in many languages…including Chinese and Hungarian.
Of course certain people will cling to their notion that the words of the Lord at the Last Supper, which are a matter of conjecture, really meant “for all”, not “for many”. They will say that the “πολλοί” of “peri ton pollon… on behalf of the many”, means something that it has never meant in the history of Greek and that St. Jerome didn’t know what he was talking about when he translated from the original languages into Latin and that the Church was wrong to use the Latin as a theological source of its own since the Church’s earliest use of Latin in liturgical worship.