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Italian theologian says liberals distorted words of Pope John XXIII

An Italian theologian has suggested that church liberals twisted the words Pope John XXIII used to open the council in order to advance their own agenda.

The Tablet reports that Fr Gino Concetti OFM wrote in last week's L'Osservatore Romano that a mistranslation of John XXIII's opening address on 11 October 1962 has undermined the immutability of Catholic doctrine and has led to 'deviations' in the Church.

According to Fr Concetti, the Italian translation of the official Latin left out two important phrases that allowed for an over-liberal and incorrect understanding of aggiornamento or renewal.

The official Latin text reads: "The deposit of faith, that is the truth contained in our venerable doctrine, is one thing, and the way in which it is presented, always, however, preserving the same meaning and value, is another."

According to Fr Concetti, the Italian translation omitted the italicised phrases. He says this suggests a tampering with Pope John's words and intentions.

But Alberto Melloni, a professor who worked on the recently published multi-volume history of Vatican II, told the Italian daily La Repubblica that the Pope originally wrote his speech in Italian, so that the 'official' Latin was actually the translation and the Italian version more faithfully represented Pope John's intentions. Professor Melloni said that the words 'same meaning and value' (originally from a fifth-century theologian and used at Vatican I) were most likely not words chosen by the Pope, but an addition made by officials in the Secretariat of State. He said there were many cases where secretaries 'inserted' words and phrases into the 'official' texts of Pope John.

A veteran Vatican official told The Tablet that it has been the long-standing custom of the Secretariat of State to 'correct' papal speeches and documents to reflect the policies of those currently in charge. He cited several instances, for example, when words of Pope John Paul I were entirely omitted from the public record. The official also pointed to a 'modification' in an early document of the present Pope 'correcting' John Paul II's insistence that the soutane or cassock, and not just the Roman collar, be the normal garb for priests.