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Ambiguities (letter)

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 Contents - Jul 2001AD2000 July 2001 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Archbishop Pell receives the pallium - Peter Westmore
New Vatican guidelines call for sound, accurate liturgy translations - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
AD2000 makes impact on the Internet - Francis Young
Thomas More Centre Winter Schools 2001 for Ballarat and Brisbane
Education: National Catholic Education Conference: but who chose the guest speakers? - Michael Gilchrist
Carnivale Christi: an inspiring display of Christian culture - Angela Smith
Archbishop Carnley: controversial Primate - Dr Ian Spry QC
Basic Ecclesial Communities - Archbishop Leonard Faulkner
Report on Marins BECs workshop in Ballarat - Peter Finlayson
The case for more Church History in Catholic schools - Michael Lynch
First Tetum-language New Testament for East Timor
Letters: Australia's Patroness? (letter) - Rev W.J. Robley Adm
Letters: Ballarat Diocese (letter) - Peter Jenkins
Letters: Ambiguities (letter) - Philip Robinson
Letters: Mass media (letter) - Errol P. Duke
Letters: New Testament books (letter) - Fr G.H. Duggan SM
Letters: De facto relationships (letter) - Deirdre Lyra
Letters: Church land (letter) - Charles Haber
Books: Testimonies to the Glory of God: World Youth Day Pilgrimage AD2000 - Catherine Sheehan (reviewer)
Books: 'Five Loaves and Two Fishes' by Archbishop F. X. Nguyen Van Thuan - Anthony Cappello (reviewer)
Books: The Gift of the Rosary: How to make and How and Why to Pray, by Brian Peachey - Barry Morgan (reviewer)
Music: From the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit: - John Miles (reviewer)
Corpus Christi Seminary Inquiry Day
Reflection: An Australian World War II hero - Ron Cowban

Before George Simpson ("Vatican II ambiguities", May AD2000) concludes that the documents of Vatican II are not ambiguous, I recommend he reads The Murky Waters of Vatican II, referred to by a recent correspondent. Fr D.H.Duggan SM, in the same issue, recommends the reading of The Rhine Flows into the Tiber by Fr. Wiltgen SVD.

From day one of Vatican II there were ambiguities. Let me quote from page 77 of Iota Unum by Romano Amerio: "The (Pope's) opening speech. Ambiguities of text and meaning. Here we find three versions of 'the very hinge on which the Council turns: how Catholic truth, without attenuations or alterations, but at the same time in such a way that the minds of our contemporaries are aided in their duty of assenting to it'."

The Latin, literally translated into English, reads: "It is appropriate that this certain and unchangeable doctrine, to which faithful loyalty must be shown, should be examined and expounded in the manner which the times demand."

The Italian translation (L'Osservatore Romano, 12 October 1962) becomes in English: "But this too should be studied and expounded through the forms of enquiry and of literary expression belonging to modern thought".

While the French translation gives us: "This doctrine ought to be studied and expounded following the methods of research and presentation which modern thought uses."

The author concludes (pp. 101-102): "Leaving the Council behind. Ambiguous character of the conciliar texts. It is highly significant - that, although the Council, as is customary, left behind it a commission for the authentic interpretation of its decrees, that commission never issued any interpretations and is never referred to by anyone. The post-conciliar period was thus devoted to the interpretation of the Council rather than to its implementation.

"Since the authentic interpretation was lacking, those points on which the mind of the Council appeared uncertain and open to question were thrown open to dispute among theologians, with the resulting grave damage to the Church's unity which Paul VI deplored in his speech of 7 December 1968. The ambiguous nature of the conciliar texts thus provides support both for a novel and a traditional interpretation, and generates a whole hermeneutical enterprise of such importance that we cannot but make a brief reference to it here".

In that speech (7 December 1968) Paul VI said "The Church is in a disturbing period of self-criticism, or what would better be called self-demolition - It is almost as if the Church were attacking herself".

Holt, ACT

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 14 No 6 (July 2001), p. 14

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