“Studied Ambiguity” (Vatican II Speak)


Seen on the web:

Everything that was the Catholic Church was tossed out the windows and doors of the Vatican and churches as the clerics created a new religion rooted in humanism. Subsequent to Pope Pius XII popes began to speak an entirely new language: papal doubletalk. Analyzing or parsing their comments was a tedious and pointless activity as they were saying virtually nothing. Meanwhile the church was circling the drain.

There’s actually a name for it: “studied ambiguity”:

To be sure, the contents of the letter to Ryan weren’t just a product of Dolan’s need to appease both sides in the intra-Church struggle. It was also a classic example of a style of ecclesiastical document that the Vatican employs in complicated situations….This style of writing aims at “studied ambiguity,” a Vatican diplomat explained to me, noting that the people who write such letters are trained to think in terms of centuries, not sound bites. “So you always need to be able to say fifty years on, ‘Well, of course we never meant that,’” the diplomat said.
— from the thread Mixed Blessing: The Ryan budget and the raging battle within the U.S. Catholic Church

Link to site, article and comments
Editor’s note: But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:37)


  1. A link to something from Townhall to support the headlined point, above? Doug, you can do so much better, referentially. And have.

    The linked opinion column is classic pandering (“I’m an admirer—as are most Catholics—of John Paul II”) neocon GOP-speak.

    • Low hanging fruit is hard to resist. Fleshing out the term “Studied Ambiguity” was the main point.


  2. Very interesting! Where can I go to learn more about the concept of “studied ambiguity”?

    • Dear Jim,

      It’s election season. Just pay attention to what the politicians are saying – or not saying. Then, read between the lines. Also, learn to identify the “code words” that are used by various persons and groups to alert their followers, while leaving others in the dark. Do a simple Google search on studied ambiguity. You’ll find lots of “hits”.

      Thanks for writing.


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