Pope Benedict told the German bishops that, as pope, he has celebrated Mass in different languages and "sometimes it is hard to find common ground" in the various translations.
"The underlying common text often remains visible only from afar," he told the bishops, who were preparing to send their revised Mass translation to the printers.
In a letter dated April 14 and posted on the German bishops' website April 24, Pope Benedict said that, over the years, it has become "increasingly clear" to him that not translating liturgical texts literally creates difficulties.
The pope's letter was aimed specifically at the translation of the phrase "pro multis" in the Eucharistic Prayer where Jesus told the disciples to take the chalice of his blood, which was poured out "pro multis."
The phrase used to be translated in English, German, Italian and other languages as "for all," but in 2006 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments sent bishops around the world a note saying Pope Benedict had ordered Catholics to use the more literal translation, "for many."