Ambiguities (letter)

Ambiguities (letter)

Valentine Gallagher

In a brochure titled "Focus Groups Vatican II: Unfinished Business", the names of prominent Catholics are cited who, as group leaders, will discuss various topics on 13 July of this year. Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's theme will be "Conscience - Doing Right Things and Taking Responsibility for Them." The brochure further comments: "Vatican II was ambiguous and even contradictory on conscience and there are still groups who understand the word in quite different ways."

Bishop Robinson is not alone in regarding sundry Vatican II texts as ambiguous. Father Brian Harrison wrote: "In the crisis of the contemporary Church we are faced with an extraordinary fact: the two contending parties (conservatives and progressivists) claim to be the authentic interpreters of Vatican II ... It seems to me essential for the leaders of the Church to honestly recognise the ambiguities we have inherited from the Council" (Thirty Days, July 1989).

Cardinal Henri de Lubac SJ comments on the ambiguity of Gaudium et Spes: "The title of the first part, even more so in French than in Latin, has an ambiguous tone and undoubtedly this ambiguity was necessary in order to enable it to cover the whole field of the exposition. 'Human vocation' here is the vocation of man (vocatio hominis). Now, this vocation of man - everything that follows shows it - is not only human, but divine" (quoted from In the Murky Waters of Vatican II by Atila Sinke Guimaraes, Vol One, page 81).

In his "Dissertatio ad lauream" in Theology submitted to the Gregorian University, Father Alberto Franzini SJ observes: "The concept of Tradition in the Constitution (Dei Verbum) is understood with different meanings, not always clearly specified or even intelligible, thus giving rise to confusions that theological reflections based on good textual hermeneutics should attempt to eliminate ..." (Guimaraes, page 82).

And reviewing the book Revolution in Rome by the Protestant Professor David Werlls, the New Zealand theologian Father G.H. Duggan SM wrote: "In all honesty we must admit, I think, that the author is on target when he points to certain ambiguities in the documents of Vatican II, ambiguities which the progressive theologians have exploited to the full" (Faith Magazine, November 1973).

Arncliffe, NSW

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