Vatican II ambiguities (2) (letter)

Vatican II ambiguities (2) (letter)

Fr G.H. Duggan SM

Much the best account of the Second Vatican Council at present available is The Rhine Flows into the Tiber by Father Ralph M. Wiltgen SVD. He was a very competent reporter and his account is fully documented and completely objective.

He leaves the reader in no doubt that the floor of the Council was an arena in which two opposing parties - conservatives and liberals - were engaged in battle. The liberal party consisted largely of bishops and theologians from countries bordering on the Rhine - Cardinals Alfrink, Suenens, LiƩnart, Dopfner and Konig, and Karl Rahner SJ, Edward Schillebeeckx OP and Bernard Haering CSsR, to name a few.

This group, whom Wiltgen calls the European Alliance, was highly organised and devised a strategy and tactics for a theological blitzkrieg. Their first victory was to secure the rejection of the material prepared by theologians all over the world in the previous three years.

The section on collegiality in Lumen Gentium was ambiguous and one of the liberals made the mistake of stating in a published article that the liberals would exploit this ambiguity after the Council to limit the power of the Pope.

When this article was brought to the notice of Pope Paul VI, he ordered that the document should have a prefatory note, pointing out that the decree on collegiality left intact the constant teaching of the Church about the supreme authority of the Pope as Shepherd and Ruler of Christ's flock.

Robert McAfee Brown, a friendly Protestant observer, noted that it might be difficult to reconcile the optimistic picture of the modern world in Gaudium et Spes with some texts in the New Testament.

Silverstream, New Zealand

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