Define: Una Cum

Una Cum
Una Cum
Quick Summary of Una Cum

The Latin phrase UNA CUM translates to “together with” and is commonly used in religious settings to express prayer or acknowledgment of the presence of others. For instance, during a Mass, a priest may say “una cum famulo tuo” (together with your servant).

What is the dictionary definition of Una Cum?
Dictionary Definition of Una Cum

Definition: “Una cum” is a Latin phrase that translates to “together with.” Example: During the prayer, the priest included the Pope, bishops, and all the faithful departed una cum. Explanation: In this instance, the phrase una cum signifies that the priest is praying for the Pope and the deceased individuals as a collective group. This phrase is commonly employed in religious settings, particularly during Mass or other liturgical ceremonies.

Full Definition Of Una Cum

The term “Una Cum” (Latin for “together with”) has significant implications within the context of the Roman Catholic liturgy and broader ecclesiastical practices. The phrase gained prominence particularly in traditionalist Catholic circles, often in relation to the validity and legitimacy of certain liturgical practices and hierarchical recognition within the Church. This legal overview explores the origins, implications, and legal considerations surrounding the term “Una Cum” within the framework of Canon Law, liturgical norms, and ecclesiastical authority.

Historical Context

The phrase “Una Cum” finds its origins in the traditional Latin Mass, particularly within the Canon of the Mass. During the Eucharistic prayer, the priest prays for the Church and its leaders, mentioning the Pope and the local bishop by name. This prayer signifies unity with the universal Church and its hierarchical structure.

Historically, the use of “Una Cum” became a point of contention during the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which introduced significant liturgical reforms. Traditionalist groups, notably the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), opposed these changes, arguing that they compromised the integrity of the Mass. These groups often question the legitimacy of post-Vatican II Popes and their adherence to traditional Catholic doctrine, leading to disputes over the proper use of “Una Cum” in liturgical prayers.

Canonical Implications

Under Canon Law, the concept of “Una Cum” holds various legal implications. Canon Law, as the legal system governing the Catholic Church, provides the framework for understanding the unity and hierarchical structure of the Church.

Unity of the Church

Canon 205 of the Code of Canon Law (1983) states that those who are in full communion with the Catholic Church are those who are united with the Pope, the bishops, and the Church’s teaching. The use of “Una Cum” in the liturgy is a visible expression of this unity. It signifies that the celebrant and the congregation are in communion with the Pope and the local bishop, acknowledging their authority and the unity of the Church.

Schism and Ecclesiastical Authority

Canon 751 defines schism as the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him. Refusal to include the Pope’s name in the Eucharistic prayer, thereby rejecting “Una Cum,” can be seen as an act of schism. This has legal consequences under Canon Law, including excommunication (Canon 1364), which is the most severe penalty the Church can impose.

Liturgical Norms and Abuses

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) provides guidelines for the celebration of the Mass. The omission or alteration of the “Una Cum” phrase without legitimate reason can be considered liturgical abuse. Such actions are addressed in Canon 846, which mandates that the liturgical books approved by the Church must be faithfully observed, and any personal alterations are forbidden.

Traditionalist Perspective

Traditionalist groups, particularly those associated with the SSPX, argue that the post-Vatican II reforms represent a break with traditional Catholic doctrine. They often question the legitimacy of recent Popes, suggesting that they have deviated from their true faith. This perspective leads to the contentious issue of whether to include the Pope’s name in the Eucharistic prayer.

The SSPX and “Una Cum”

The SSPX holds a complex position regarding “Una Cum.” While it generally acknowledges the Pope as the legitimate successor of St. Peter, it criticizes the modernist tendencies it perceives in recent pontificates. Consequently, some SSPX Masses might omit the name of the Pope, or include it with qualifications. This nuanced approach has led to ongoing dialogues with the Vatican to resolve these differences and achieve full communion.

Legal Status and Negotiations

The canonical status of the SSPX has been a matter of significant debate. While Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of the SSPX bishops in 2009, full canonical recognition has not been achieved. The use of “Una Cum” remains a focal point in these discussions, as it symbolizes broader theological and ecclesiological disputes. Canonical experts argue that resolving the “Una Cum” issue is crucial for achieving full reconciliation between the SSPX and the Vatican.

Ecclesiastical Authority and the Role of the Pope

The role of the Pope as the supreme pontiff and the visible head of the Catholic Church is central to understanding the importance of “Una Cum.” The Pope’s authority is derived from the doctrine of papal primacy, which is rooted in Scripture and Tradition.

Papal Primacy

The doctrine of papal primacy is articulated in Canon 331, which states that the Bishop of Rome, as the successor of St. Peter, possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church. The inclusion of the Pope’s name in the Eucharistic prayer affirms this primacy and the unity of the Church under his leadership.

Papal Infallibility

Papal infallibility, defined in the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) and reiterated in the Second Vatican Council, asserts that the Pope, when speaking ex-cathedra on matters of faith and morals, is preserved from the possibility of error. This doctrine reinforces the importance of maintaining communion with the Pope through the “Una Cum” prayer, as it acknowledges his role in safeguarding doctrinal purity.

Contemporary Legal and Pastoral Issues

In the contemporary Church, the use of “Una Cum” continues to raise legal and pastoral issues, particularly in the context of liturgical diversity and the reconciliation of traditionalist groups.

Liturgical Diversity

The Church recognizes a variety of liturgical rites and practices, each with its own traditions and norms. The Roman Rite, Byzantine Rite, and other Eastern Catholic rites have distinct liturgical forms, yet all maintain the principle of unity with the Pope. The use of “Una Cum” is adapted to fit the specific traditions of each rite, highlighting the universality of the Church.

Pastoral Concerns

Pastoral concerns arise when addressing the faithful who may be influenced by traditionalist groups or who question the legitimacy of recent Popes. The Church seeks to balance doctrinal integrity with pastoral sensitivity, aiming to foster unity without compromising on essential teachings. Canon 383 emphasizes the bishop’s duty to promote and defend the unity of the Church, which includes addressing issues related to “Una Cum.”


The phrase “Una Cum” serves as a profound expression of ecclesial unity within the Catholic Church, encapsulating the relationship between the local church, the Pope, and the universal Church. Its usage in the liturgy is not merely a matter of ritual but signifies deep theological and canonical principles.

The historical and contemporary debates surrounding “Una Cum” reflect broader concerns about authority, tradition, and unity within the Church. While traditionalist groups like the SSPX challenge certain post-Vatican II developments, the Church continues to uphold the importance of “Una Cum” as a sign of communion with the Pope and adherence to the Church’s hierarchical structure.

The legal implications of omitting or altering “Una Cum” are significant, potentially leading to accusations of schism and the imposition of canonical penalties. However, the Church also seeks reconciliation and dialogue with dissenting groups, aiming to heal divisions and restore full communion.

In conclusion, the phrase “Una Cum” embodies the essence of Catholic unity and authority. It serves as a reminder of the Church’s commitment to maintaining doctrinal purity and hierarchical integrity while navigating the challenges posed by liturgical diversity and theological dissent. The ongoing dialogue and legal considerations surrounding “Una Cum” underscore its enduring significance in the life of the Church.

Una Cum FAQ'S

“Una Cum” is a Latin phrase that translates to “together with” or “along with.” In legal contexts, it is often used to indicate the inclusion or presence of another party or entity in a legal document or agreement.

“Una Cum” is typically used when you want to include or reference another party or entity in a legal document. It can be used to indicate joint ownership, partnership, or any other form of collaboration or association.

No, “Una Cum” is not a mandatory phrase in legal documents. Its usage depends on the specific circumstances and intentions of the parties involved. It is always advisable to consult with a legal professional to determine whether it is appropriate to include “Una Cum” in your document.

Yes, “Una Cum” can be used in contracts or agreements to indicate the involvement or association of another party. It can help clarify the joint responsibilities, obligations, or benefits of the parties involved.

The legal implications of using “Una Cum” in a document depend on the context and the specific terms and conditions mentioned in the document. It is crucial to ensure that the inclusion of “Una Cum” accurately reflects the intentions and agreements of all parties involved.

Yes, “Una Cum” can be used in a will or testament to indicate the joint ownership or inheritance of assets or properties by multiple beneficiaries or parties.

While “Una Cum” is a Latin phrase commonly used in legal contexts, its usage may vary depending on the jurisdiction and specific legal practices. It is always recommended to consult with a legal professional to determine the appropriateness of using “Una Cum” in your specific case.

Yes, “Una Cum” can be used in international legal documents, especially when parties from different jurisdictions are involved. However, it is essential to consider the specific legal requirements and practices of each jurisdiction to ensure the proper usage of “Una Cum.”

Yes, there are alternatives to using “Una Cum” in legal documents. Depending on the context, you can use phrases like “together with,” “in association with,” or “jointly with” to convey a similar meaning.

While “Una Cum” is not commonly used in court proceedings or legal arguments, it may be referenced if it is included in the relevant legal documents or agreements. However, it is crucial to consult with a legal professional to determine the appropriate usage in such situations.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 8th June 2024.

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