Rorate Caeli

Benedict XVI to the German Episcopal Conference on "Pro Multis"

[Updated] Translation of the Letter from Pope Benedict XVI. to the members of the German Bishops' Conference on the issue of translation of 'pro multis':


From the Vatican, 14 April 2012

Your Excellency, Dear Archbishop,

During your visit on 15 March 2012, you informed me that there is still no unanimity among the bishops of the German-speaking world with regard to the translation of the words “pro multis” in the Eucharistic Prayers of the Mass. There seems to be a risk that in the new edition of Gotteslob that is due to be published shortly, some parts of the German-speaking world wish to retain the translation “for all”, even if the German Bishops’ Conference should agree to use “for many”, as requested by the Holy See. I promised that I would write to you on this important matter, in order to circumvent a division of this kind at the very heart of our prayer. This letter that I am addressing through you to the members of the German Bishops’ Conference will also be sent to the other bishops of the German-speaking world.

Let me begin with a brief word about how the problem arose. In the 1960s, when the Roman Missal had to be translated into German, under the responsibility of the bishops, there was a consensus among exegetes to the effect that the word “many” in Is 53:11f. is a Hebrew expression referring to the totality, “all”. It would follow that the use of the word “many” in the institution narratives of Matthew and Mark is a Semitism and should be translated “all”. This argument was also applied to the Latin text that was being translated directly, and it was claimed that “pro multis” points beyond the Gospel narratives to Is 53 and should therefore be translated “for all”. This exegetical consensus has collapsed in the meantime: it no longer exists. In the official German translation of the Scriptures, the account of the Last Supper includes the words: “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many” (Mk 14:24; cf. Mt 26:28). This highlights something very important: the rendering of “pro multis as “for all” was not merely a translation but an interpretation, a well-founded interpretation then as now, but an interpretation nevertheless, something more than a translation.

In a certain sense, this combination of translation and interpretation was one of the principles that governed the translation of liturgical books into modern languages immediately after the Council. It was realized how remote the Bible and liturgical texts were from the linguistic and conceptual world of people today, so that even in translation they were bound to remain largely unintelligible to worshippers. It was a new development that the sacred texts were now being made accessible to worshippers in translation, and yet they would remain remote from their world, indeed that remoteness was made manifest for the first time. So it seemed not only justifiable but even necessary to build interpretation into the translation and in this way to speak more directly to the listeners, whose hearts and minds these words were intended to reach.
Up to a point, the principle of translating the content rather than the literal meaning of key texts is still justified. Since I constantly have to say liturgical prayers in a variety of languages, though, it strikes me that the different translations sometimes have little in common and that often the common text underlying them can scarcely be detected. Some banal elements have also crept in, which are real impoverishments. So over the years it has become increasingly clear to me personally that as an approach to translation, the principle of structural as opposed to literal equivalence has its limits. In accordance with insights of this kind, the instruction for translators Liturgiam Authenticam, issued on 28 March 2001 by the Congregation for Divine Worship, shifted the focus back onto the principle of literal equivalence, without of course requiring a one-sided verbalism. The important insight underpinning this instruction is the above-mentioned distinction between translation and interpretation. It is necessary both for Scripture and for liturgical texts. On the one hand, the sacred text must appear as itself as far as possible, even if it seems alien and raises questions; on the other hand the Church has the task of explaining it, so that within the limits of our understanding, the message that the Lord intends for us actually reaches us. Not even the most sensitive translation can take away the need for explanation: it is part of the structure of revelation that the word of God is read within the exegetical community of the Church – faithfulness and drawing out the contemporary relevance go together. The word must be presented as it is, with its own shape, however strange it may appear to us; the interpretation must be measured by the criterion of faithfulness to the word itself, while at the same time rendering it accessible to today’s listeners.

In this context, the Holy See has decided that in the new translation of the Missal, the words “pro multis” should be translated as they stand, and not presented in the form of an interpretation. In the place of the interpretative explanation “for all”, the simple rendering “for many” must appear. Let me take the opportunity to point out that neither Matthew nor Mark uses the definite article, so it is not “for the many”, but “for many”. If this decision makes a great deal of sense, as I hope it does, in terms of the fundamental relationship between translation and exegesis, I am also aware that it poses an enormous challenge to those with the task of explaining the word of God in the Church, since to the ordinary church-goer it will almost inevitably seem like a rupture at the heart of the sacred. They will ask: did Christ not die for all? Has the Church changed her teaching? Can she do so? May she do so? Are there reactionary forces at work here to destroy the heritage of the Council? We all know from experience of the last fifty years how deeply the alteration of liturgical forms and texts touches people’s souls. How greatly perturbed people will be, then, by a change in the text at such a key moment. This being so, when the decision was made to opt for the translation “many”, in view of the difference between translation and explanation, it was established at the same time that a thorough catechesis would be needed to prepare the way for this translation in the various language regions: the bishops would have to help the priests, and through them the lay faithful, to understand exactly what this is about. Prior catechesis is the essential condition for adoption of the new translation. As far as I am aware, no such catechesis has yet taken place in the German-speaking world. The purpose of my letter is urgently to ask all of you, my dear Brother Bishops, to develop a catechesis of this kind, to discuss it with the priests and to make it available to the lay faithful.

The first element in such catechesis would have to be a brief explanation as to why the word “many” was rendered as “all” in the translation of the Missal prepared after the Council: in order to express unequivocally, in the sense willed by Jesus, the universality of the salvation that he brought. The question immediately arises: if Jesus died for all, then why did he say “for many” at the Last Supper? And why do we retain these words of Jesus for the institution? Here it must be added straight away that according to Matthew and Mark, Jesus said “for many”, while according to Luke and Paul he said “for you”, which seems to narrow the focus even further. Yet it is precisely this that points towards the solution. The disciples know that Jesus’ mission extends beyond them and their circle, they know that he came to gather together the scattered children of God from all over the world (Jn 11:52). Yet this “for you” makes Jesus’ mission quite concrete for those present. They are not simply anonymous elements within some vast whole: each one of them knows that the Lord died precisely for me, for us. “For you” covers the past and the future, it means me, personally; we, who are assembled here, are known and loved by Jesus for ourselves. So this “for you” is not a narrowing down, but a making concrete, and it applies to every eucharistic community, concretely uniting it to the love of Jesus. In the words of consecration, the Roman Canon combined the two biblical formulae, and so it says “for you and for many”. This formula was then adopted for all the Eucharistic Prayers at the time of the liturgical reform.

Once again, though, we ask: why “for many”? Did the Lord not die for all? The fact that Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, is the man for all men, the new Adam, is one of the fundamental convictions of our faith. Let me recall just three Scriptural texts on the subject: God “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all”, as Paul says in the Letter to the Romans (8:32). “One has died for all,” as he says in the Second Letter to the Corinthians concerning Jesus’ death (5:14). Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all,” as we read in the First Letter to Timothy (2:6). So the question arises once more: if this is so clear, why do we say “for many” in the Eucharistic Prayer? Well, the Church has taken this formula from the institution narratives of the New Testament. She says these words out of deference for Jesus’ own words, in order to remain literally faithful to him. Respect for the words of Jesus himself is the reason for the formulation of the Eucharistic Prayer. But then we ask: why did Jesus say this? The reason is that in this way Jesus enables people to recognize him as the Suffering Servant of Is 53, he reveals himself as the figure to whom the prophecy refers. The Church’s respect for the words of Jesus, Jesus’ fidelity to the words of “Scripture”: this double fidelity is the concrete reason for the formulation “for many”. In this chain of respectful fidelity, we too take our place with a literal translation of the words of Scripture.

Just as we saw earlier that the “for you” of the Luke-Paul tradition does not restrict but rather makes concrete, so now we recognize that the dialectic “many” – “all” has a meaning of its own. “All” concerns the ontological plane – the life and ministry of Jesus embraces the whole of humanity: past, present and future. But specifically, historically, in the concrete community of those who celebrate the Eucharist, he comes only to “many”. So here we see a threefold meaning of the relationship between “many” and “all”. Firstly, for us who are invited to sit at his table, it means surprise, joy and thankfulness that he has called me, that I can be with him and come to know him. “Thank the Lord that in his grace he has called me into his Church.” Secondly, this brings with it a certain responsibility. How the Lord in his own way reaches the others – “all” – ultimately remains his mystery. But without doubt it is a responsibility to be directly called to his table, so that I hear the words “for you” – he suffered for me. The many bear responsibility for all. The community of the many must be the lamp on the lamp-stand, a city on the hilltop, yeast for all. This is a vocation that affects each one of us individually, quite personally. The many, that is to say, we ourselves, must be conscious of our mission of responsibility towards the whole. Finally, a third aspect comes into play. In today’s society we often feel that we are not “many”, but rather few – a small remnant becoming smaller all the time. But no – we are “many”: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues,”, as we read in the Revelation of Saint John (7:9). We are many and we stand for all. So the words “many” and “all” go together and are intertwined with responsibility and promise.

Your Excellency, dear Brother Bishops, with these thoughts I have tried to set out the basic content of the catechesis with which priests and laity are to be prepared as soon as possible for the new translation. I hope that all of this can at the same time nourish a deeper participation in the Holy Eucharist and thus take its place within the great task that lies ahead of us in the “Year of Faith”. I hope too that the catechesis will be presented soon and will thus become part of the renewal of worship that the Council strove to achieve from its very first session.

With paschal blessings, I remain

Yours in the Lord,



  1. R. John8:02 PM

    He should have just quoted the Catechism of Trent. The pope's explanation only confused what the Catechism makes perfectly clear.

  2. Prof. Basto8:09 PM

    "During your visit of 15 March 2012 you let me know that, regarding the translation of the words “pro multis” in the canon of the Mass, there is still no consensus among the bishops of the German language area".


    The Pope speaks of the command that he issued, a clear and specific order that was given by the Holy See regarding the correct translation of "pro multis", as if it wasn't an order.

    He mentions the fact that the order is being disobeyed, but does not confront the disobedience. Instead, he sugarcoats the resistance to the order: "sill no consensus" among the German Bishops.

    Well, there need be no consensus!

    There needs to be obedience!

    The Pope speaks, and speaks, and speaks, explains profoundly, but he does not need to justify his orders when they are being ignored!

    He needs to enforce obedience!


  3. George Carruthers9:07 PM

    The pope is employing a time-honored tactic of successful diplomats: If an order is disobeyed, offer in public a statement by which (1) to persuade those who disobey because they do not understand and (2) to give those who simply disagree a face-saving means by which to reverse their position. This is precisely what the United States did when China captured its spy-plane. By giving the Chinese a way to save face instead of putting warships off the China coast, the US was able to accomplish its goal: Get the spy plane and its crew.

    The goal of the Holy See is to regularize the translations -- not to ensure that Bishop Hans von Bun-dachs is obedient on this matter when Bishop Hans has already shown himself to be a touchy customer on other matters.

    The Holy See takes the long view: Why go to war with the German episcopate over this translation--which is a difficult thing over which to go to war given the current climate, when there are far more important wars that will need to be fought soon, such as the war with the Austrian episcopate.

    If the Holy See clamps down hard on things like this, it will end up with a war -- a war in which it may extract what could be but a Pyrrhic victory.

    The fact of the matter is that the Chruch has lost a culture of obedience to the holy see and obedience cannot be demanded on these matters upfront as you might wish, Professor Basto, without far greater damage being done.

    Benedict must combine two approaches, as he has done:
    (A) Appoint good bishops to form a new generation of obedient and orthodox shepherds. This he has done, albeit with some missteps.
    (B) Work gently with the existing bishops to accomplish his goals--in this case his goal is the regularization of the German translation.

    We might long for military-style obedience, but that will nto be achieved in this situation, nor has it _ever_ been the reality on the ground, where our fallen humanity leads to all manner of conflict. Witness the travails of Gregory VII--even he had to be very careful about picking his battles.

  4. Paul M9:09 PM

    So for 1969 years the Church interpreted 'for many' to mean 'for many' but because the world didn't like that concept, we re-interpret it to mean 'for all'!

    'For all' is not wrong folks! It was a 'consensus' at the time and that made it right at the time, but that consensus has 'shattered' and since there is no longer a consensus we must revert to 'for many'
    This is the immantism St Pius X speaks about in Pascendi- the idea that truth comes from within and Catholic doctrine, instead of being an objective squaring off with reality, is instead, the consensus of what the 'People of God' believe.
    Either the Pope is still labouring under the influence of this error, or he is trying to convince the German bishops of a truth by using the language of the error since that is all they understand. I pray it is only the latter.
    What happened to 'let your yes be yes and your no, no'? No wonder the Church is in a mess.

  5. Picard9:11 PM

    Very important and many good points.

    At the first glimpse I was very happy (and I still am a little bit happy after the first glimpse)

    - but why after Vat. II, even when "conservative" Popes as Benedict XVI are speaking, there is always missing the very essential traditional things and points, the crucial and theological problematic points:

    Why it is not mentioned that in the 60ies and 70ies there was (like it still is now) a great inclination towards a wrong "Allerlösungs"-Theory (all men are saved, are really justified), so that not only hypothetical/virtual or in a general way all are redeemed, but also effectively all are redeemed or better: saved, justified?!

    That there was and is the error of dreaming that the hell is empty, that there was (and is) this wrong optimism of personal salvation ("Heilsoptimismus"), condemned by Pope Pius IX?!

    And that this was the deepest reason the mistranslation "for all" was choosen?!

    Why are these errors not mentioned and condemned now?!?

    And why there is no quote of the Cat. Romanus, that explicitely deals with this question and brings up this distinction: all are redeemed virtualiter/objective (considering the virtue, the potency of the redemption) - but NOT all, but only many if considering the "efficacity", the concrete effect, the subjective level - NOT all will go to heaven!?!

    And that in the Hl. Mass it is very appropriate to consider this last point!?!

    Why not mentioning this old magisterial texts and teachings, the traditional doctrine?!

    Why not saying that nowdays it is much more important to stress this - because the wrong assumption of all people will go to heaven is widespread?!

    - I can not see the "hermeneutic of (reform in) continuity" here - but again only this of "rupture" (or at least ignoring the past, the Tradtion!), like so many times after VII!

    It is only the half truth that the reason for the wrong translation were these mentioned in the text (or less than the "half" - it is not the real truth at all!!)
    The much more important thruth (and the connected errors), - the real reasons and the thological fight - are not mentioned.


    Kyrie eleison - GOD have mercy!

  6. Picard9:17 PM

    "The Pope speaks,... explains profoundly"

    No, sorry, not really profoundly - like R. John rightly said:

    "The pope's explanation only confused what the Catechism makes perfectly clear."

    Or see my other, long post re that... (I hope it will be approved!)

  7. Allan9:27 PM

    Shorter Reply:

    "During your visit of 15 March 2012 you let me know that, regarding the translation of the words “pro multis” in the canon of the Mass, there is still no consensus among the bishops of the German language area.

    "I am writing to, first of all, disabuse of this quaint but misguided notion that your 'consensus' is actually required. It is not.

    "I am the Vicar of Christ on Earth, the Successor of the Apostoles and the Bishop of Rome. You are my Bishops, and you will translate the Mass according to my prior instructions, or I will simply revoke approval for use of a German language venacular translation in favour of the Latin original.

    "Kindly govern yourselves accordingly,

    "Ego Petrus,etc.

    "Benedictvs pp XVI"

  8. Furthermore, the Church used to explain the difference between 'for all' and 'for many' by simply stating that while the efficacy of Our Lord's Passion and death was sufficient to save all men, not all would avail themselves of that grace. 'Many' would convert and be saved, but not all. Many would spurn Christ and go to Hell. The Pope waters down this idea to this notion that 'many' refers to those who are present in this celebration. But many was always understood as refering to those who would be saved.
    That idea is not popular. Most churchmen, (Like Card. Pell in his recent debate with Dawkins) still have a foggy notion of a Hell that is empty... does the Pope believe this too?
    The Pope trys to say that the only reason Christ used the words 'for many' was because it was prophesised that he would. This implies that, had it not been prophesised, Christ would not have used those words. It implies that Christ would have prefered to use 'for all'. That would make Christ subject to the prophets whereas the exact opposite is the reality... The prophets prophesised because Christ said it, not 'Christ said it because the prophets prophesised'.
    I think that if the Pope does not believe these things himself, he has wound himself into a tangle trying to explain it to those who do. He should have just got out a big stick.
    We have much to pray for.

  9. This is great, but can someone please answer me the following:

    Even if "many" and the "many" in the Book of Isaiah was a Hebrew expression meaning the community, the "all" - why in the world would the "many" in Mark and Matthew be considered as an expression of this same Semitism? Weren't they written in Greek?

    If Greek works were used, then wouldn't the authors use exactly what they meant "many"?

  10. "Benedict XVI to the German Episcopal Conference on "Pro Multis""


    Saint Joan,
    Saint Tim,
    Queen Mary
    Of Scotts

    The true Mass
    So knew
    Their true lots.

    They could
    Have said
    "Oh no
    I shant!"

    But they
    Were Saints
    No persons

    Not ones
    To lord
    Their innate

    While being
    Prepared like
    On wood.

    Or having
    Their eye-lids
    And nipped

    Even though were
    With kings
    They sipped.

    No, no
    With joy
    No fuss...

    "For you, et
    Pro multis."
    Now daily
    For us!

  11. He should have just quoted the Catechism of Trent. The pope's explanation only confused what the Catechism makes perfectly clear.

    But the Roman Catechism does not say all that could be said on the subject (cf. Msgr. Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, on what St. Gregory the Great wrote about why we use "for many"). Must our Holy Father the Pope simply quote the Roman Catechism without making reference to the teaching of the Fathers?

  12. Funny how Benedict avoids giving the 'pro multis' a traditional interpretation. He's essentially saying: now that we've found a way of using the 'pro multis' in a Modernist way, it's time to go literal...

  13. Gratias12:58 AM

    Benedict XVI The Great is bringing his subordinates to obedience: "In this context the Holy See has decided that in the new translation of the Missal the words “pro multis” must be translated as such and not at the same time interpreted. The simple translation “for many” must come in the place of the interpretative ” for all”. I would like to point out that in both Matthew and in Mark there is no article, so not “for the many”, but “for many”. As the decision of the fundamental ordering of translation and interpretation is, as I hope, understood from this...." The Pope is telling them they must go with "for many". So there.

    It is great a new translation of the Mass is given to the disobedient German bishops. Perhaps the Austrian bishops will something more useful to employ their energies with than Homosexual marriage and Nun ordination.

    This Holy Pope is an intellectual that wants to convince his opponents with reasoned arguments. I seem to see He is winning. The Anglicans are trickling in, the SSPX will rejoin, the English-Speaking peoples have a new (much better) Novus ordo translation in place, the Latin Mass spreading via Summorum Pontificum. The Year of Faith will be one of renewal for Catholics. Vielen Dank Heiligen Vater! A long life, we pray.

  14. Even if "many" and the "many" in the Book of Isaiah was a Hebrew expression meaning the community, the "all" - why in the world would the "many" in Mark and Matthew be considered as an expression of this same Semitism? Weren't they written in Greek?

    Yes, the Gospels were written in Greek, but they were written by Hebrews who spoke Greek, and a kind of koine Greek that had been influenced by the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. From what I understand, sometimes the fact that Greek was not the mother tongue of the New Testament writers, but rather Aramaic and Hebrew were their primary languages, is very easy to detect. That means it's not enough to know what a NT passage says in Greek, but you also need to be aware of the reasons the author chose the particular Greek words and phrases to render his Hebrew-inflected/influenced thoughts.

  15. Prof. Basto3:30 AM

    "The Pope speaks of the command that he issued, a clear and specific order that was given by the Holy See regarding the correct translation of "pro multis", as if it wasn't an order."

    And in so doing, He permits the erosion of the authority of the Apostolic See.

    A failiure of leadership, with consequences.

    The Church is the one in the losing side now that it is common knowledge that the Holy See has ceased enforcing its unpopular decisions.

    Who is responsible?

  16. John Vi5:33 AM

    Gosh, His Holiness could have explained it simply that for many is a mistranslation because the Body and Blood of Jesus sacrificed on the altar at Mass is profitable to people who can receive It in Holy Communion-baptised Catholics in the state of grace- though graces are poured out to all of humanity to invite them to come to the divine feast by being mystical members of Christ.

  17. The last time the German bishops officially talked about this issue their explanation was the following:
    They have only heard about it in the media, but they have never received any letter from the pope. Therefore it is completely unnecessary to change the translation, as a command from the pope does not exist.
    We'll see if this letter is conveniently "lost in the mail" as well.

    The priest council of my diocese has officially proclaimed that the pope has no authority in this matter and that our diocese will continue to use "for all". My bishop has always maintained that he will do nothing against the wishes of this priest council.
    Priests who introduced "for many" or (heaven forbid!) use Latin are being pursued relentlessly.

  18. P.K.T.P.8:35 AM

    There is such a thing as intellectualism, and then there is something which only pretends to be that. I trust that we can all tell the difference.

    Seeing this 'explanation' makes me wonder if this Pope is the right man to reconcile the S.S.P.X with the Rahnerite community headed by the Holy See.


  19. This doesn't really help matters at all, he should have as others simply quoted the catechism of Trent rather than make a very forced application. Moreover the explanation for why pro multis is used was anything but complete, as the catechism states ' "If we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed his blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race'

    I don't know why the pope goes into questions of translation, we all know that was never true and wad just an excuse to make more theologically eroenous changes to the mass.

  20. Grrrrrrrrrr....'pro multis' does not mean 'for many', but 'for THE many'!

  21. You all are judging the Holy Father based upon his message to the liberal German episcopate. Why doesn't His Holiness mention argue from virtualiter? This is . . . immanentist!

    If I write a letter to a random five year-old that he will understand, I hope I'm not judged intellectually on the merits of that letter.

    Consider the audience, people; the German bishops ain't what they used to be. And the Holy Father is actually having to do their catechesis to their flocks for them. 1 Cor. 3:2a, "I gave you milk to drink, not meat: for you were not able as yet."

  22. Liturgophile2:40 PM

    Here's an idea. How about instituting Latin-language worship for the Latin rite. No more translation work. No more translation problems.

  23. Andrew3:13 PM

    I don't understand why this an issue. Every translation of the Bible. Both Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant translate it "for many" NOT "for all" (Matthew 26:28). Even liberal scripture scholars don't mess with the words. Why then do some Bishops feel they should in change the words canon at the Mass? Why do they feel they should change the words of Our Lord? This is a clear example of their desire to force an agenda or theological perspective rather than being loyal to the actual words of Jesus, as recorded in the Holy Bible. It makes no sense.

  24. The pope is employing a time-honored tactic of successful diplomats

    Dear Mr Carruthers. Diplomats are someone sent abroad to lie on behalf of their country.

    Now, I suppose one could could argue that one will never be defeated if he does not fight but we all know that silence equals agreement in most instances of controversy.

    Back before he turned on a dime, back when he was addressing the Roman Synod, Pope Blessed John XXIII confessed that he had no choice but to oppose error.

    But, that was the pre-V2 and this is now, isn't it?

  25. As for me, I am not as wise as His Holiness; neither do I have the graces of office to look after the Church.

  26. "This meant most of those masses were invalid. Many highlighted this invalidity problem back in 1968 and were laughed at."'

    Wow. And your arguments and credentials for say this are?

    Invalidity is a complex issue; I suggest, as well, as Our Lord would not let such a gift as the Eucharist UNIVERSALLY in English be rendered invalid over one word concerning the scope of the fruits of this sacrifice.

  27. Anonymous6:54 PM

    in the simple world where I live if a Pope has inept bishops his duty is to replace them, not to become like them so they can slowly learn. I'd also like to know how many of these bishops are his own appointments.

    Wrong is wrong even if everyone is wrong, and even if the Pope is wrong.

    Basic Catholic common sense has gone to the dogs, this is the problem.


  28. "That consensus is shattered." To me, this is the most importance sentence in the either address, because it applies to so much more than the issue at hand. De-facto universalism has been the norm ever since the Council, as anyone who has ever attended a Catholic funeral can attest. An elderly priest who celebrated his mother's funeral Mass once told me that several members of the congregation were shocked to hear him suggest that his mother might be in purgatory and not in heaven. And now the pope is telling the bishops that the consensus on which their eschatalogical confidence rested has been shattered. That is huge. To me, it sounds as if one chapter in the history of the church is ending and a new one is beginning. And not a minute too soon.

    And I'm sympathetic to the frustration of other commenters with the pope's meliorism, but a little bemused as well. Paul VI used the full weight of his apostolic office to suppress the traditional rite and impose the Novus Ordo. I take it for granted that most regulars readers of this blog don't believe he did the right thing. Furthermore, as Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict XVI criticized the heavy handedness with which the old Mass was abolished, and now as pope it just stands to reason that he doesn't want to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor. Folks, Benedict XVI doesn't want to be Paul VI! Isn't that a good thing? The man is in an impossible situation. Give him a break.

  29. Liturgophile:

    Your suggestion embodies the great disadvantage that is is not nearly sophisticated enough.

    One must be very simple to accept it.

    In other words, while your observation is precisely to the point, perfectly reasonable, and logical......

    it is, alas, still premature.

    There are still far too many sophisticates involved.

    They have paid for those degrees, and intend to use them.

  30. Dear Tawser. To the extent that his Papacy has been damaged due the continuing collapse of the bastions he desired be razed, then one can sympathise with his predicament while still supporting the exercise of ecclesiastical discipline without which, as the great Dom Prosper Gueranger observed, all is chaos.

  31. Brian1:54 AM

    Tawser said:
    Paul VI used the full weight of his apostolic office to suppress the traditional rite and impose the Novus Ordo. I take it for granted that most regulars readers of this blog don't believe he did the right thing.

    You are right I don't believe he did the right thing; not because he used the full weight of his office, but because he imposed the Novus Ordo.

    It is not the use of authority that was wrong.

    He was right, for example, to use the full weight of his office to impose Humanae Vitae.

  32. Alsaticus9:59 AM

    for George Carruthers :

    diplomats are not always "successful". For ex. in this case !

    GermChuch is required to correct its bad translation since 2001 ! and cardinal Arinze set a date line in 2006 for the pro multis.

    Disobedience at that level is a serious question. Alas pope Benedict XVI is far from having appointed strong bishops in his own country (like every where else in Europe too).
    Moreover GermChurch is as infected as the Austrian rampant schism : you feel Abp Zollitsch more orthodox than chameleon Schönborn ? Must be kidding.

    Finally John Paul II fought a battle against GermChurch in 2001-2002 about the counseling certificates required for legal abortions that were delivered by Catholic institutions. The pope had to raise his voice loud and even one German bishop remained in dissent but he resigned a bit later.

    I agree with you that the military obedience is unrealistic ; however it does not mean battles have not to be fought when a whole episcopate is going mad.
    I see this letter as a belated first serious warning before real warfare.

    A capitulation on the unique element of reform of the Litnik chaos - so far for the NOM - would be a kind of Benedictine Pearl Harbor, on the US side.

  33. Liturgophile11:47 AM


    I think your comparison between Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict XVI is not sound; we need to make proper distinctions.

    Pope Paul VI used the weight of his office for something that, at a minimum, was a rotten discretionary decision, i.e. some form of bad. Calls here for Pope Benedict XVI to use similar authority are on behalf of something good. Big difference.

    Not just a matter of using papal authority as being good or bad, but the nature of the object toward which it is directed.

  34. The terrible fact about this is the frequent accusations by bishops that traditionalists should "obey the pope". we have a strange contradiction therefore.

  35. But this is reason for optimism! The Holy Father changed his mind on something from the council. He admits they interpreted rather than translated--for a good reason, mind (and it is a plausible argument, maybe St. Peter will buy it)--and he admits it led to banalization. And so he changed his mind. He saw it, and he had the courage to do it. Not all of us do. This is really promising. Because of course, if a person can change his mind on one thing, he can change his mind on another, and suddenly see the point of those simple, logical, clearly stated, humbly presented SSPX arguments the Holy Father has in his hand just about now. Have you read them--I mean the version presented by Father Gleize, which are representative of all I have read, personally. They are heart-breakingly clear.

    I don't see how life could get more exciting than this.


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