Allow me to demonstrate with the help of what Life Site News reported:


Asked in the Q&A session of his presentation on revision to elaborate on the term “inadmissible,” Barron steered clear of explaining what the pope meant by it, in favor of a curious admission of the pope’s ambiguity, and diverted to the emphasis of his committee having been on imitating the pope’s decree.

“To my mind, the pope maintains and our version imitates a certain, if you want, eloquent ambiguity on that point.  Here it doesn’t use the language of intrinsic evil for example,” he continued. “But it uses language like that, inadmissible, morally unacceptable, etc.” 

“So we’re just trying to imitate as much as we can what’s found in the way the pope revised this teaching,” said Barron. “But I wouldn’t dare speak to what the mind on the pope on that is, but that’s just my assessment of why that language is used. We just tried for the most part to imitate it.”

The new language on the death penalty does not explicitly state that the death penalty is intrinsically contrary to the Gospel.

Bishop Barron wouldn't dare to speak the mind of the Pope on the actual moral status of the death penalty, and it was enough for all but eleven of two hundred and five bishops to parrot something that was, according to the their spokesman, deliberately and "eloquently ambiguous."  

Taking a step back, I am Catholic enough in my sensibilities to expect doctrinal unity on all matters that are de Fide, and for that reason I would expect , as a normative matter, the U.S. bishops faithfully to follow Catholic teaching on capital punishment.  But now we have reached a state of affairs in which it is a point of pride for the bishops to do that which, by the Pope's own admission, contradicts what the Church has always authoritatively taught on the question of the morality of capital punishment.  I should add that Bishop Barron, a point-man for "the new evangelization" and the estimable Cardinal George's protege, is about as serious as the U.S. bishops get when they are doing their best to teach the Catholic faith.

The silliness that is afoot, in praise of "eloquent ambiguity" in Catholic teaching on matters of morals, should not allow us to lose sight of what is at stake: the salvation of souls.  If capital punishment is a grave moral evil, then those who culpably  participate in it -- as judges or jurors or legislators or policy advocates -- risk divine punishment unless they repent.  It is one thing to judge capital punishment to be bad policy; it is toto caelo different to sort-of-declare it to be a grave moral evil. 

Pope John XXIII is, to my mind, an historically ambiguous figure, but Roncalli was emphatically not in favor of theological ambiguity.  The Council that Roncalli loosed on the Church had the effect of depriving the Church of many of her treasures, notably the treasure of language for clear and constant teaching.  Roncalli would not have favored Bergoglio's "eloquent ambiguity," as his words on the eve of the Second Vatican Council and his untimely death establish:

Furthermore, the Church’s language must be not only universal but also immutable. Modern languages are liable to change, and no single one of them is superior to the others in authority. Thus if the truths of the Catholic Church were entrusted to an unspecified number of them, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifested to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision. There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings.

But Latin is indeed such a language. It is set and unchanging. it has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use. . . .

Finally, the Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord. It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular.

In addition, the Latin language “can be called truly catholic.” It has been consecrated through constant use by the Apostolic See, the mother and teacher of all Churches, and must be esteemed “a treasure … of incomparable worth.” It is a general passport to the proper understanding of the Christian writers of antiquity and the documents of the Church’s teaching. It is also a most effective bond, binding the Church of today with that of the past and of the future in wonderful continuity. . . .

It will be quite clear from these considerations why the Roman Pontiffs have so often extolled the excellence and importance of Latin, and why they have prescribed its study and use by the secular and regular clergy, forecasting the dangers that would result from its neglect.   (Pope John XXIII, encyclical letter Veterum Sapientia (1962) (citations omitted)).


Let me say without ambiguity that, in my humble opinion, we are living the dangers that result from teachers' using (deliberately) ambiguous language while exercising authority that is in fact limited to handing on, explicating, and, to some extent, applying what has been handed down.  What is allowed to pass as the meaning of the ambiguous terms may be, some of it, ultra vires and even false.

Yes, to be sure, insight can grow into what has been handed down (cf. Dei Verbum No. 8 (1965)), but the job and authority of the teachers is to manifest the intelligibility of Revelation, not to trade in shadows and ambiguities.  If this generation's bishops knew some Latin and felt constrained to use it to limit and guide their work, the Church would have something valuable from their teachers, not the loaded gun that is "eloquent ambiguity."