Mr Peter Howard contends that "the only real 'confusions' in the Catholic Church after Vatican II ... have resulted from dissenting theologians and they have caused the crisis" (July AD2000).
Monsignor George Kelly disagrees. He maintains that a factor in the crisis is the presence of some ambiguities in the conciliar texts. He writes: "The documents of the Council contain enough basic ambiguities to make the post-conciliar difficulties understandable" (The Battle for the American Church, p. 20).
Father Brian Harrison also acknowledges the existence of ambiguities. He observes: "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).
While professor of Theology at Tubingen University, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger published his Theological Highlights of Vatican II. An English translation appeared in 1966.
The Cardinal devoted some space to the explanatory note appended to the document treating of episcopal collegiality. The "nota praevia explicativa" was devised as a guideline for interpretation but was not incorporated into the Council text.
The Cardinal wrote: "As is well known this note injected something of bitterness into the closing days of the session otherwise so full of valiant hopes. A detailed analysis of this very intricate text would take us here too far afield. The end result, which is what we are concerned with, would be the realisation it did not create any substantially new situation.
"Essentially it involved the same dialectic and the same ambiguity about the real powers of the college as the Council itself manifested. Without doubt the scales were here further tipped in favour of papal primacy as opposed to collegiality. But for every statement advanced in one direction the text offers one supporting the other side and this restores the balance, leaving interpretations open in both directions.
"We can see the text as either 'primatialist' or collegial. Thus we can speak of a certain ambivalence in the text of the 'explanatory note', reflecting the ambivalent attitude of those who worked on the text and tried to reconcile the conflicting tendencies. The consequent ambiguity is a sign that complete harmony of views was neither achieved nor even possible" (page 115).