Warming the Pro Multis Discussion

for the manyAfter a spate of Pope-Francis-is-really-arch-conservative stories spouting up the past week or two, we get this bombshell from daily Mass yesterday:

In a passage that may prompt a theological debate about the nature of salvation, the pontiff also declared that God “has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!”

“Even the atheists,” he said to those who might question his assertion. “Everyone!”

The new pro multis: everyone.

Obviously, salvation is in the hands of God, not people. It’s nearly irrelevant what we, or our hierarchy says about it, bottom line. More important is how we live the Christian life so as to facilitate Christ through simple human signs. Could Pope Benedict have been theologically correct, but morally wrong insisting on his own way, the last gasp (we hope) of preconciliar Catholicism?

Here’s to the last gasp. Let it rest in peace. Let us all move forward.

I liked this quote:

(I)f we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.

I like this “culture of encounter,” a notion that the Christian believer presents herself or himself in discussion with seekers, doubters, and non-believers. We set aside the pessimism of world standards: there are so many who disagree and we are impotent in imposing our will. We go as Christ went: embracing each individual encounter, and presenting himself with persistence, honesty, and gentleness.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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8 Responses to Warming the Pro Multis Discussion

  1. John Drake says:

    But which words does Francis use during the consecration at Mass?

  2. FrMichael says:

    Well, it doesn’t change anything. Catholic doctrine remains unchanged: Christ’s death on the Cross was more than sufficient to redeem all of humanity. Meanwhile, “for many” remains the proper English translation (as is the Spanish “por muchos”) for the Latin pro multis found in the Roman Missal.

    Apples and oranges.

  3. Joseph Anthony says:

    I would be surprised if Pope Francis meant here to refer to the application of the fruits of redemption. There is no question that Christ died for the whole world. The question is who will receive that plentiful redemption. When the Pope says that good works constitutes a ground in which we can meet atheists, I believe (based off his previous words) that he means a place where we can encounter them to bring them to Jesus. Pope Francis has been very clear that salvation is in Jesus alone, the devil is real, and that we should be filled with apostolic zeal to bring people to Christ, even at the risk of annoying them.

    There are certainly limits on the application of grace. Receiving the fruits of baptism is one of them, as Jesus said: “Unless you are born again of water and Holy Spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” Baptism makes us adopted children of God and then we are anointed with the Holy Spirit, the seal of salvation, and thus receive the sacramental sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ. For this reason St. John says that there are three who give witness on earth: the spirit, the water, and the blood, and these three are one. I believe, because “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things are are revealed belong to us and to our children forever that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29) that we ought to stay very close to revelation, which tells us that God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten son, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Then, immediately in the next verse, we read: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

    God has not revealed to us that all people will receive the application of the grace of salvation, so we should not posit that in our liturgy. When it says “in remissionem peccatorem” the in + acc (as opposed to the ad + acc) refers to a completion: “unto the [the completion of the] remission of sins.” This explanation makes sense. The Mass is instituted for the baptized as the completion and application of the work of salvation, but the unbaptized cannot receive the sacrifice, and, at times, have been forbidden even to attend. But even if someone were to doubt this logic, for many would still be the proper translation of “pro multis”. It requires catechesis, but no more than “for all”, which could imply that revelation and the magisterium teach universal salvation in addition to universal redemption.

    This reasoning held even during the time when the text was mistranslated, as we read in Notitiae 6 (1970), 39–40, n. 28, which, though it justified the now rejected translation, also supported the traditional theology of the application of merits of redemption:

    In certain vernacular translations of the formula of consecration of the wine at Mass, the words « pro multis » are translated thus: in English for all men; in Spanish por todos; in Italian per tutti.
    It is asked:

    a) whether there is and what is the sufficient reason for introducing this variation?

    b) whether the doctrine handed on regarding this matter in the « Roman Catechism by Decree of the Council of Trent and issued with the authority of St. Pius V » should be regarded as superseded?…

    Resp.: The variation described above is fully justified:

    a) according to the exegetes, the Aramaic word which was translated into Latin as « pro multis », has the significance of « for all »: the multitude for which Christ died is without any limitation, which has the same force as to say: Christ died for all. It will help to remember what St. Augustine said: « See what he has given and you will find what he has bought. The price is the Blood of Christ. How much is it worth? What, if not the whole world? What, if not all nations? They are very ungrateful for this price or very proud who say that it is so small as to buy only Africans or to claim that they are so great that it was given for them alone » (Enarr. in Ps. 95, n. 5).

    b) in no way is the doctrine handed on in the « Catechismus Romanus » to be regarded as superseded: the distinction about the death of Christ as sufficient for all but only efficacious for many retains its value….

  4. Jon says:

    Everyone is redeemed whether to do good or not. So many people are misunderstanding with the pope is saying because of the confusion with theological terminology. Redemption and salvation are not the same thing.: http://www.battleforthecoreoftheworld.com/2013/05/pope-francis-says-everyone-is-going-to.html

    • Rick L says:

      Thanks for offering this article as clarification. I believe the homily that is being spoken of is related to the Gospel reading from May 22 and is Mark 9:38-40 where the disciples see someone driving out demons in Jesus name but they don’t know them and Jesus admonished them that if they are doing this in His name, that it is fine,basically saying if they are His but don’t belong to the same church as you, doesn’t make them wrong and is making a statement about sectarianism before it becomes what we have today. Just because the world is attempting to justify works as a method of salvation does not mean that is what was being conveyed. Jesus very clearly said He is the way the truth and the life and NO one can come to the Father except by Him. Pretty straight forward. Also, good deeds are an outward sign of God’s transformation of you to the world around you and a method to connect with the lost that they might find salvation through Christ.

  5. Jim McCrea says:

    Oooo. The tighties are all in an uproar over this one!

  6. Aron says:

    The original Greek “for many” text does NOT exlude the meaning “for all”, while the English, German, Hungarian, Finnish, Italian translation of “for many” excludes the meaning “for all”. This is why those translations are not in line with the meaning of the original Greek. The French translation of “for many” is equivalent of the original Greek and it does NOT exclude either the meaning “for all”.

    This is why my heart says: those translations of “for many” which exclude the meaning “for all”, are wrong translations and contrary to the goal of being honest to the original text they acctually are not honest to it and hint a herasy…

    I hope Pope Francis will authorise both for many and for all for those languages and let the Bishop conferences decide locally or put it in the hands and hearts of priests.

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