I knew it was a huge mistake when the new translation of the Roman Missal came out and the words of consecration were translated “for many” rather than “for all.” (if you are interested in this, check the side bar for “pro multis” and that will link you to the four postings I did on this subject in 2011 and 2012.) In the first place while “for many” is a literal translation of the Latin “pro multis” it is a faulty translation because it fails to translate the original Greek text, ‘οί πολλοί, from which the Latin is itself translated. (The New Testament accounts of the Last Supper, like the remainder of the New Testament, were written in Greek.) ‘Οί πολλοί means “the many”—an inclusive term signifying the vast multitudes of people. We know it in English as “the hoi polloi” meaning the common run of humanity, although “the” here is a bit redundant. Greek, like English, has articles. ‘Οί is Greek for “the.” Latin doesn’t have articles and so the Greek inclusive “the many” became the Latin restrictive “many.” This has a huge impact for soteriology (the theology of salvation) as it implies that Christ did not die for all but only for some, namely those “many” (but not all) who were to be saved. This proposition that Christ did not die for all was condemned by Pope Innocent X in 1653 in the first salvo the Holy See fired against the Jansenist heresy.
Jansenism, a heresy that stresses the fallen nature of humankind and overstresses the idea of the “election” of the saved, has never been completely wiped out; indeed it is very much the foundation for many of the Catholic neo-traditionalists ranging from the Krazies among the sedevacantists at Mount Saint Michael in Spokane to “Catholic” commentators like Michael Voris. Jansenism is commonly said to have spread to America via the Irish clergy who came here in the 19th and early 20th century—and Irish Catholicism has in its blood a streak of Jansenism picked up from Irish clergy who studied in France during penal times. But the real infestation of Jansenism came to America even before the Irish migration with émigré clergy fleeing the French Revolution. It found its American home in Mount Saint Mary’s, a seminary founded in 1808 by Father John Dubois and other French priests in the Catotctin Mountains of Maryland. Jansenism must infest the old floorboards of “The Mount” as despite valiant efforts to erase it on the part of various deans and some faculty over the years it has managed to take root in the hearts of certain grads, and through them has spread to infect the faithful in various eastern dioceses that send their candidates to Mount Saint Mary’s for training. The Diocese of Arlington Virginia seems particularly vulnerable to infection both in its priests and some of its more outspoken laity.
Jansenism is basically “Catholic Calvinism.” It is derived from the writings of Cornelius Jansen (1585-1638), a theologian and Bishop of Ypres in what is today Belgium. Flanders, the province in which Ypres is located, then was part of the seventeen provinces, a component unit of the Hapsburg Empire where the Eighty Years war was being waged as the Calvinists were trying to win their independence from their Catholic Habsburg rulers. In the end Flanders remained under Hapsburg rule and Catholicism was restored, but through much of this period Flanders—like the northern provinces that would become the Netherlands—was dominated by Calvinism. In the highly intellectual atmosphere of the Calvinist Republic of Ghent, certain points of Calvinist theology spilled over into Catholic circles and Cornelius Jansen’s theology of grace and predestination had a strong scent of Calvinism to it. Jansen’s book, Augustinus, gave a Calvinist read to the teachings of Saint Augustine of Hippo—the great theologian of the Catholic West. The resultant distortions of Augustine’s theology of Grace produced a conviction among Jansen’s followers that Christ only died for those who would accept his sacrifice, and did not die so that all might accept his Grace. This same error was made by Calvin and became one of the distinguishing marks of Calvinism. This distorted Catholicism was very influential in France in the 17th century and even its condemnation by several popes did not lessen its influence.
Jansenism persists today. Katholic Krazy Mary Anne Kreitzer of Woodstock Virginia who tilts at the windmills of “liberal” Catholicism under the banner of Les Femmes recently published on her blog
Jesus warned about Gehenna more than anything else during his life on earth. He died to save people from it. The Mass (since the restoration of the millenial "for many" at the Consecration) is proof positive that ALL are NOT SAVED because Jesus could only die for the salvation of the many who would accept His sacrifice. Note that the bad thief got no guarantee of paradise. Did he repent in the end? Maybe. Let's pray he did, but we have no evidence of it.
Well, Ms. Kreitzer should read her bible as bit more assiduously as while Jesus certainly did warn us about Gehenna, he did not do so nearly as much as he warned us about the false teachings of those scribes and Pharisees who were so confident in their own religiosity and despised those whose views were so narrow. But it is interesting that not only does Ms. Kreitzer espouse the Jansenist doctrine that Christ did not die for all but only for those who would accept his grace, but she uses the faulty translation of the pro-multis to justify it.
A few months back I attended a funeral in upstate New York and the principle celebrant of the Mass—a cassock-wearing, biretta bedecked gentleman in his seventies—pointedly said “for you and for all” as he consecrated the chalice at the funeral Mass. I chided him about this at the luncheon afterward and he took umbrage as he said: “I have no choice; I will not give in to heresy. Christ died for all and we must never say otherwise.” Father then pointed out to me that while one cannot say that all are saved, one must be uncompromising in the faith that Christ died so that all might be saved. And—to my surprise—this priest is a graduate of Mount Saint Mary’s. But must have been in better days.