“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)

Is the pope a master of “murky” Vatican II liberal church-speak, or simply not very good at extemporaneous speaking?

Finally, said Pope Francis there is the group of Christians who “in their hearts do not believe in the Risen Lord and want to make theirs a more majestic resurrection than that of the real one . These, he said are the “triumphalist” Christians. 

“They do not know the meaning of the word ‘ triumph ‘ the Pope continued, so they just say “triumphalism”, because they have such an inferiority complex and want to do this … 

First let me say, I am not a fan of this style of speaking. The use of shortcut terms with a history of derogatory use does not seem fitting for use by the Holy Father. Additionally, the true target of his critique is obscured by its use. I have been reading around to try and see if anyone had more insight than I, but it seems that the confusion is general.

“They do not know the meaning of the word ‘ triumph ‘ the Pope continued, so they just say “triumphalism”

I suppose if this were true, that certain Christians repeatedly used the word triumphalism as their banner, this general confusion would not exist.

When we look at these Christians , with their many triumphalist attitudes , in their lives, in their speeches and in their pastoral theology, liturgy, so many things, it is because they do not believe deep down in the Risen One. He is the Winner, the Risen One. He won. 

Reading these specific words, I think they could easily apply to progressives within the Church who think that the simple message of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection and the redemption offered to us is insufficient. They believe that more is needed, that it is their human creativity that is needed to seal the deal. This attitude is reflected in their pastoral theology and constantly reinvented liturgy.

Alas, I doubt that this was the Pope’s intended target.

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