Below, an Open Letter to Bishop Athanasius Schneider, written by The Remnant columnist Christopher Ferrara He concludes: “Is it enough to call, as you do, for “an authentic interpretation of AL by the Apostolic See” that would reaffirm Familiaris consortio 84 and the bi-millennial sacramental discipline it defends? Is it not perfectly clear that such an authentic interpretation is precisely what AL was devised to preclude, and that therefore it will never be forthcoming during this pontificate (barring a miraculous turn of events)? And, finally, is it not also perfectly clear that the problems with AL go far beyond the ecclesial status of the divorced and “remarried” to an attack on the very foundations of the objective moral order, rhetorically reduced to a set of rules from which an actor may be excused in “certain cases”? End of extract.
Amen to that Christopher. It seems to me that it is not enough for Pope Francis to provide some sort of “clarification” of Amoris Laetitia. It should be scrapped. Withdrawn. Immediately if not sooner. Note, too, Mr Ferrara’s criticism of the rest of the hierarchy who have largely remained silent in the wake of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Is he right – should more bishops follow the example of Bishop Schneider in be speaking out? Remember, we know that our very own Archbishop Philip Tartaglia expressed disquiet after the Synod “Part One” when he indicated that he may not BE archbishop if the 2015 synod continued in the same vein. Yet, he has remained silent following the publication of the post-synodal Exhortation, which, by any Catholic measure, is deeply flawed, to say the least. Anyway, read the Open Letter below and then share your thoughts…
Open Letter to Bishop Athanasius Schneider…
To your everlasting credit, but to the Church’s everlasting shame, you alone among the entire Catholic episcopacy have protested publicly and forthrightly against the many statements in Amoris Laetitia (AL), particularly in Chapter 8, which appear to derogate from the negative precepts of the natural law, including those against divorce, adultery and fornication. By the divine will, these precepts, as Your Excellency writes, “are universally valid… oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance” and “forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception” because they concern “kinds of behaviour which can never, in any situation, be a proper response.”
Yet there is no question that AL was written ambiguously, but with relentless consistency, precisely to create the impression of “exceptions” to absolute moral precepts which the document tendentiously describes throughout its text as merely “general rules (2, 300, 304)”, a “general principle,” “rules (3, 35, 288)”, “a set of rules” (49, 201, 305)”, “a rule (300, 301, 304)”, “the rule (301 & note 348)”, “a general rule (301)” and “a general law or rule (301).”
As Your Excellency has doubtless discerned, AL’s reduction of the moral law to a “general rule” is the rhetorical device by which “exceptions” to the rule are introduced in “certain cases” involving what AL euphemistically describes as an “irregular union” or “irregular situations” (78, 298, 301, 305 & note 351)—meaning, of course, those who “are divorced and remarried, or simply living together (297)” in a state of continuing public adultery or simple fornication.
At the same time it reduces the moral law to a “set of rules” to which there can be practical exceptions—as with any mere rule—AL also demotes the indissolubility of marriage from its divinely ordained status as the universally binding, exceptionless moral foundation for conjugal relations to merely an “ideal (36), “a demanding ideal (38),” “the ideal (298, 303)”, “this ideal (292)”, “the ideal of growing old together (39),” “the Christian ideal (119, 297)”, “a struggle to achieve an ideal (148)”, “the ideal of marriage (157)”, “the high ideal (200)”, “the beautiful ideal (230)”, “the full ideal (307)”, “the fuller ideal (307)”, and “the evangelical ideal (308).”
Having reduced marriage to a mere ideal, AL dares to suggest that certain sexually immoral unions can “realize it in at least a partial and analogous way” and that they possess “constructive elements (298).” AL even goes so far as to declare that a “second union”—meaning a relationship Our Lord Himself condemned as adultery—can exhibit “proven fidelity, generous self giving, [and] Christian commitment… (298).” AL thus obscures, indeed seeks to eliminate, the sense of divine moral reprobation of the adulterous character of nonexistent “second marriages.”
Even the teaching of the very Pope that Francis canonized is subjected to a devious reductionism. In line with all of Tradition, John Paul II affirmed in Familiaris consortio that the divorced and “remarried” cannot be admitted to the sacraments without a commitment to abstain from further adulterous relations: “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples” (Familiaris Consortio, 84).
Yet, as Your Excellency rightly objects, AL systematically omits any reference to John Paul’s affirmation of the Church’s constant teaching in this regard. Rather, AL relegates it to a footnote wherein an absolute moral imperative is falsely presented as the mere “possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers.” In the same footnote even this gross misrepresentation of the authentic Magisterium is undermined by the suggestion (based in turn on a flagrantly misleading quotation of Gaudium et spes) that “In such situations, many people… point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, ‘it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers.’” As if “intimacy” were morally required to ensure “faithfulness” to a partner in adultery!
Finally, in a summary statement that should alone suffice to cover this tragic document with opprobrium until the end of time, AL declares that even those who know full well “the rule” and “the ideal” can nonetheless be justified in their deliberate decision not to conform their actions to the moral law, and that God Himself would approve of this disobedience to His Commandments in “the concrete complexity” of one’s situation:
Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response that can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. (303)
This statement, reflecting the entire tenor of the document, is obviously nothing less than a license for the “pastoral” exoneration of habitual public adultery or cohabitation based on the subjective self-assessment of objective mortal sinners. These people would then be admitted to the sacraments, without a prior amendment of life, in “certain cases,” following a local priest’s “pastoral discernment filled with merciful love, which is ever ready to understand, forgive, accompany, hope, and above all integrate (312)” people living in immoral sexual unions. (Cf. 305 & note 351).
Your Excellency notes with due alarm that in the wake of AL’s promulgation “There are bishops and priests who publicly and openly declare that AL represents a very clear opening-up to communion for the divorced and remarried, without requiring them to practice continence.” And, as you rightly observe: “It must be admitted that certain statements in AL could be used to justify an abusive practice that has already been going on for some time in various places and circumstances in the life of the Church.”
Indeed, Your Excellency’s conclusion is inescapable. Also inescapable are the consequences, which you yourself enumerate and we summarize here:
– the Sixth Commandment would no longer be universally binding;
– the very words of Christ would not apply to everyone in every situation;
– one could be allowed to receive Holy Communion with every intention of continuing to violate the Commandments;
– observance of the Commandments would become merely theoretical, with people piously professing belief in the “theory” as they violate God’s law in practice;
– all other forms of permanent and public disobedience to the Commandments could likewise be justified on account of “mitigating circumstances”;
– the infallible moral teaching of the Magisterium would no longer be universally valid;
– observance of the Sixth Commandment in Christian marriage would become a mere ideal attainable only by “a kind of elite”;
– the very words of Christ enjoining an uncompromising obedience to the commandments of God—that is, the carrying of the Cross in this life— “would no longer be valid as absolute truth.”
Yet your fellow prelates now observe an all but universal silence in the face of this “catastrophe.” Only Your Excellency courageously declares before the world that “Admitting couples living in ‘irregular unions’ to Holy Communion and allowing them to practice acts that are reserved for spouses in a valid marriage would be tantamount to the usurpation of a power that does not belong to any human authority, because to do so would be a pretension to correct the Word of God himself.”
Among more than 5,000 bishops and more than 200 cardinals, Your Excellency stands alone in protesting publicly the unthinkable abuses to which this disgraceful document—utterly without precedent in the bi-millennial history of the papacy—undeniably lends itself. Even the few among your fellow prelates who have addressed the crisis AL has provoked have tried to deny its clear intendment, so evident in Chapter 8. They propose emasculating “interpretations” in “continuity with the Magisterium” amounting to virtually the opposite of what AL’s most problematic passages assert repeatedly in different ways.
But as the eminent French theologian Father Claude Barthe observedimmediately after AL’s publication: “I honestly do not see how one could interpret Chapter 8 of the Exhortation in the sense of traditional doctrine. It would do violence to the text and wouldn’t respect the intention of the compilers…” Likewise, the renowned Catholic philosopher Robert Spaemann, an advisor to John Paul II and a friend of Benedict XVI, replied thuswhen asked if AL represents a breach with prior teaching: “That it is an issue of a breach emerges doubtlessly for every thinking person, who knows the respective texts.”
Others among your brethren, unwilling to deny the obvious, have seriously proposed that Francis has promulgated nothing more than inconsequential “personal reflections” he does not expect anyone to heed. But even this objection focuses on formalities such as tone and style, rather than admitting openly that AL cannot belong to the Magisterium for the simple reason that its assertions, given the meaning of words according to their ordinary signification, cannot be reconciled with the Church’s authentic teaching on marriage and sexual morality.
None of these timid objectors among the hierarchy seem willing to recognize the almost apocalyptic aspect of a papal document wherein the moral law is depicted as a “general rule,” Holy Matrimony is reduced to “an ideal,” and the sacred pastors of the Church are told that “a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives (305).” This is not the language of Our Lord and His Gospel, but rather a kind of demagogic incantation that seems to fulfill Saint Paul’s prophecy of a time when the people “will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables (2 Tim 4: 3-5).”
Aside from Your Excellency and a few courageous priests, only the laity have exhibited anything approaching the vigorous opposition which this scandalous “apostolic exhortation” demands from every member of the Church. In this regard, Your Excellency remarks on the parallel between our situation and the Arian crisis of the 4th century, when “almost the entire episcopate had become Arian or Semi-Arian.” Pope Liberius excommunicated your namesake St. Athanasius, and the Pope himself “signed one of the ambiguous formulations of Sirmium, in which the term ‘homoousios’ [of one substance] was eliminated.” You also note that “St. Hilary of Poitiers was the only bishop who dared to rebuke Pope Liberius severely for these ambiguous acts.”
The parallel with your own courageous witness against the “ambiguous formulations” of AL is lost on no one who has any sense of Catholic history. As you write: “Arguably, in our time, confusion is already spreading with regard to the sacramental discipline for divorced and remarried couples.” Hence, you conclude, the teaching of John Paul II in Familiaris consortio 84—totally suppressed in AL’s 256 pages, as it was throughout the years-long “synodal journey”— “may be seen, to some extent, as the ‘homoousios’ of our days’.”
In light of these considerations, however, we must in candor raise these questions for Your Excellency’s consideration: Is it enough to call, as you do, for “an authentic interpretation of AL by the Apostolic See” that would reaffirm Familiaris consortio 84 and the bi-millennial sacramental discipline it defends? Is it not perfectly clear that such an authentic interpretation is precisely what AL was devised to preclude, and that therefore it will never be forthcoming during this pontificate (barring a miraculous turn of events)? And, finally, is it not also perfectly clear that the problems with AL go far beyond the ecclesial status of the divorced and “remarried” to an attack on the very foundations of the objective moral order, rhetorically reduced to a set of rules from which an actor may be excused in “certain cases”?
For all these reasons, we implore Your Excellency to do everything in his power to persuade his brethren in the episcopacy—above all the cardinals, who are bound by oath to lay down their lives for defense of the Faith—to mount concerted and decisive public opposition to the destructive novelties of Amoris laetitia, explicitly identifying them as such, warning the faithful against them, and respectfully petitioning the Pope for their immediate correction or the total withdrawal of the catastrophic text.
As Prof. Spaemann has said: “Every cardinal, but also every bishop and priest, is called to defend, in their own field of expertise, the Catholic sacramental system and to profess it publicly. If the Pope is not willing to introduce corrections, it will be up to the next pontificate to put things back in place officially.” Meanwhile, however, we humbly submit to Your Excellency that this shameful silence of the hierarchs must end for the good of the Church and the welfare of souls. For as Sister Lucia of Fatima warned Cardinal Caffarra, one of the few staunch opponents of the progressive faction (and thus Francis himself) during the Synod: “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.”
The final battle is surely underway. And woe to the shepherds who leave the sheep to defend themselves in its midst.
In Christo Rege,
Christopher A. Ferrara Source – The Remnant Newspaper
In fact the bishops who support Holy Communion for “divorced remarried” are the new Pharisees and Scribes because they neglect the commandment of God, contributing to the fact that out of the body and of the heart of the “divorced remarried” continue to “proceed adulteries” (Math 15: 19), because they want an exteriorly “clean” solution and to appear “clean” as well in the eyes of those who have power (the social media, public opinion). However when they eventually appear at the tribunal of Christ, they will surely hear to their dismay these words of Christ: “Why are you declaring my statutes and taking my covenant in your mouth? Seeing you hate instruction, and cast my words behind you, … when you have been partaker with adulterers” (Ps 50 (49): 16-18). Read more
Is Bishop Schneider correct to be so outspoken in his criticism of the Synod bishops? Isn’t he failing in “charity”? Does he risk developing a “schismatic mindset”? Is he likely to be “re-assigned” soon? Wouldn’t he be wiser to remain silent and simply pray at this time? Comments invited.
Those who continue to insist: “crisis, what crisis?” and who think Archbishop Lefebvre acted without basis, read this Interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan – and say, humbly, “I was wrong” … source
“Only on the Internet can you spread your own ideas. Thanks be to God the Internet exists”
BAS: ‘To my knowledge and experience, the deepest wound in the actual crisis of the Church is the Eucharistic wound; the abuses of the Blessed Sacrament.
‘Many people are receiving Holy Communion in an objective state of mortal sin…This is spreading in the Church, especially in the western world. There people very rarely go to Holy Communion with a sufficient preparation.
‘Some people who go to Holy Communion live in irregular moral situations, which do not correspond to the Gospel. Without being married, they go to Holy Communion. They might be divorced and living in a new marriage, a civil marriage, and they go nevertheless to Holy Communion. I think this is a very, very grievous situation.
‘There is also the question of the objectively irreverent reception of Holy Communion. The so-called new, modern manner of receiving Holy Communion directly into the hand is very serious because it exposes Christ to an enormous banality.
‘There is the grievous fact of the loss of the Eucharistic fragments. No one can deny this. And the fragments of the consecrated host are crushed by feet. This is horrible! Our God, in our churches, is trampled by feet! No one can deny it.
‘And this is happening on a large scale. This has to be, for a person with faith and love for God, a very serious phenomenon.
‘We cannot continue as if Jesus as God does not exist, as though only the bread exists. This modern practice of Communion in the hand has nothing to do with the practice in the ancient Church. The modern practice of receiving Communion in hand contributes gradually to the loss of the Catholic faith in the real presence and in the transubstantiation.
‘A priest and a bishop cannot say this practice is ok. Here is at stake the most holy, the most divine and concrete on Earth.’
Q You are standing out on your own in this?
BAS: ‘I am very sad that I am feeling myself as one who is shouting in the desert. The Eucharistic crisis due to the modern use of Communion in hand is so evident. This is not an exaggeration. It is time that the bishops raise their voices for the Eucharistic Jesus who has no voice to defend himself. Here is an attack on the most Holy, an attack on the Eucharistic faith.
‘Of course there are people who receive Holy Communion in the hand with much devotion and faith, but they are in a minority. The vast mass, though, are losing the faith through this very banal manner of taking Holy Communion like common food, like a chip or a cake. Such a manner to receive the most Holy here on earth is not sacred, and it destroys by time the deep awareness and the Catholic faith in the real presence and in the transubstantiation.’
Q Is the Church going in the opposite direction from where you are going?
BAS: ‘It seems that the majority of the clergy and the bishops are content with this modern use of Communion in hand and don’t realize the real dangers connected with such a practice. For me this is incredible. How is this possible, when Jesus is present in the little hosts? A priest and a bishop should say: “I have to do something, at least to gradually reduce this. All that I can do, I have to do.” Unfortunately, though, there are members of the clergy who are making propaganda of the modern use of Communion in the hand and sometimes prohibiting receiving Communion on the tongue and kneeling. There are even priests who are discriminating those who kneel for Holy Communion. This is very, very sad.
‘There is also an increasing stealing of hosts, because of distributing Communion directly in the hand. There is a net, a business, of the stealing of Holy Hosts and this is much facilitated by Communion in the hand.
‘Why would I, as a priest and bishop, expose Our Lord to such a danger, to such a risk? When these bishops or priests [who approve of Communion in the hand] have some item of value, they would never expose this to great danger, to be lost or stolen. They protect their house, but they do not protect Jesus and allow him to be stolen very easily.’
Q In respect of the questionnaire on the issue of family – people are expecting big changes.
BAS: ‘There is on this issue a deal of propaganda, put about by the Mass media. We need to be very careful. There are the official anti-Christian mass media worldwide. In almost every country it is the same content of news, with the exception perhaps of the African and Asian countries or in the East of Europe.
‘Only on the Internet can you spread your own ideas. Thanks be to God the Internet exists.
‘The idea of changes in marriage and moral laws to be done at the upcoming synod of bishops in Rome, comes from mostly the anti-Christian media. And some clergy and Catholics are collaborating with them in spreading the expectations of the anti-Christian world to change the law of God concerning marriage and sexuality.
‘It is an attack by the anti-Christian world and it is very tragic and sad that some clergy are collaborating with them. To argue for a change the law of God, they use in a kind of sophism the concept of mercy. But in reality this is not mercy, this is cruel.
‘It is not mercy, for instance, if someone has a disease to leave him in his miserable condition. This is cruel.
‘I would not give, for instance, a diabetic sugar, this would be cruel of me. I would try to take someone out of this situation and give them another meal. Perhaps they won’t like it to begin with, but it will be better for them.
‘Those of the clergy who want admit the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion operate with a false concept of mercy. It is comparable with a doctor who gives a patient sugar, although he knows it will kill him. But the soul is more important than the body.
‘If the bishops admit the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, then they are confirming them in their errors in the sight of God. They will even close down the voice of their conscience. They will push them more into the irregular situation only for the sake of this temporal life, forgetting that after this life, though, there is the judgment of God.
‘This topic will be discussed in the synod. This is on the agenda. But I hope the majority of the bishops still have so much Catholic spirit and faith that they will reject the above mentioned proposal and not accept this.
Q What is this crisis you mention?
BAS: ‘This is a broader crisis than the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. I think this issue of the reception of Holy Communion by the remarried will blow up and show the real crisis in the Church. The real crisis of the Church is anthropocentrism, forgetting the Christocentrism. Indeed, this is the deepest evil, when man or the clergy are putting themselves in the centre when they are celebrating liturgy and when they are changing the revealed truth of God, e.g. concerning the Sixth Commandment and human sexuality.
‘The crisis reveals itself also in the manner in which the Eucharistic Lord is treated. The Eucharist is at the heart of the Church. When the heart is weak, the whole body is weak. So when the practice around the Eucharist is weak, then the heart and the life of the Church is weak. And when people have no more supernatural vision of God in the Eucharist then they will start the worship of man, and then also doctrine will change to the desire of man.
‘This crisis is when we place ourselves, including the priests, at the centre and when God is put in the corner and this is happening also materially. The Blessed Sacrament is sometimes in a cupboard away from the centre and the chair of the priest is in the centre. We have already been in this situation for 40 or 50 years and there is the real danger that God and his Commandments and laws will be put on the side and the human natural desiring in the centre. There is causal connection between the Eucharistic and the doctrinal crisis.
‘Our first duty as human beings is to adore God, not us, but Him. Unfortunately, the liturgical practice of the last 40 years has been very anthropocentric.
‘Participating in liturgy is firstly not about doing things but praying and worshipping, to love God with all your soul. This is true participation, to be united with God in your soul. Exterior participation is not essential.
‘The crisis is really this: we have not put Christ or God at the centre. And Christ is God incarnated. Our problem today is that we put away the incarnation. We have eclipsed it. If God remains in my mind only as an idea, this is Gnostic. In other religions e.g. Jews, Muslims, God is not incarnated. For them, God is in the book, but He is not concrete. Only in Christianity, and really in the Catholic Church, is the incarnation fully realised and this has to be stressed therefore also in every point of the liturgy. God is here and really present. So every detail has meaning.
‘We are living in an un-Christian society, in a new paganism. The temptation today for the clergy is to adapt to the new world to the new paganism, to be collaborationists. We are in a similar situation to the first centuries, when the majority of the society was pagan, and Christianity was discriminated against.’
Q Do you think you can see this because of your experiences in the Soviet Union?
BAS: ‘Yes, [I know what it is] to be persecuted, to give testimony that you are Christian.
‘We are a minority. We are surrounded by a very cruel pagan world. The temptation and challenge of today can be compared with the first centuries. Christians were asked to accept the pagan world and to show this by putting one grain of incense into a fire in front of the statue of the Emperor or of a pagan idol. But this was idolatry and no good Christian put any grain of incense there. They preferred to give their lives, even children, lay people, who were persecuted, gave their lives. Unfortunately there were in the first century members of the clergy and even bishops who put grains of incense in front of the statue of the Emperor or of a pagan idol or who delivered the books of the Holy Scripture to be burned. Such collaborationist Christians and clerics were called in those times “thurificati” or “traditores”.
‘Now, in our days the persecution is more sophisticated. Catholics or clergy are not asking to put some incense in front of an idol. It would be only material. Now, they neo-pagan world wants us to take over its ideas, such as the dissolution of the Sixth Commandment of God, on the pretext of mercy. If some clergy and bishops start to collaborate with the pagan world today in this dissolution of the Sixth Commandment and in the revision of the way God created man and woman, then they are traitors of the Faith, they are participating ultimately in pagan sacrifice.’
Q Can you see a split coming in the Church?
BAS: ‘Unfortunately, for some decades some clergy have accepted these ideas of the world. Now however they are following them publicly. When these things continue, I think, there will be an interior split in the Church of those who are faithful to the faith of their baptism and of the integrity of the Catholic faith. There will be a split with those who are assuming the spirit of this world and there will be a clear split, I think. One can imagine that Catholics, who remain faithful to the unchangeable Catholic truth may, for a time, be persecuted or discriminated even on behalf of those who has power in the exterior structures of the Church? But the gates of the hell, i.e. of the heresy, will not prevail against the Church and the Supreme Magisterium will surely issue an unequivocal doctrinal statement, rejecting any collaboration with the neo-pagan ideas of changing e.g. the Sixth Commandment of God, the meaning of sexuality and of family. Then some ‘liberals’, and many collaborators with the spirit of this world, many modern “thurificati et traditores” will leave the Church. Because the Divine truth will unresistingly bring the clarification, will set us free, and will separate in the midst of the Church the sons of the Divine light and the sons of the of the pseudo-light of this pagan and anti-Christian world. I can presume that such a separation will affect each level of the Catholics: lay people and even not excluding the high clergy. Those clergy who accept today the spirit of the pagan world on morality and family declare themselves Catholics and even faithful to the Pope. They even declare extremists those who are faithful to the Catholic faith or those who are promoting the glory of Christ in the liturgy.’
Q Do you feel you have been declared an extremist?
BAS: ‘I have not been declared as such formally. I would say such clergy are not in the majority but they have acquired a lot of influence in the Church. They managed to occupy some key positions in some Church offices. Yet this is not power in the eyes of God. Truly powerful are the little ones in the Church, who conserve the faith.
‘These little ones in the Church have been let down and neglected. They have kept the purity of their faith and they represent the true power of the church in the eyes of God and not those who are in administration. Thanks be to God, the numbers of these little ones are growing.
‘I spoke for instance with young students in Oxford [picture left – at source] and I was so much impressed by these students, I was so glad to see their purity of faith and their convictions, and the clear Catholic mind. Such examples and groups are growing in the Church and this is the work of the Holy Spirit. This will renew the Church. So I am confident and hopeful also in respect of this crisis in the Church. The Holy Ghost will win this crisis with this little army.
‘I am not worried about the future. The Church is Christ’s Church and He is the real Head of the Church, the Pope is only the Vicar of Christ. The soul of the Church is the Holy Spirit and He is powerful. However we are now experiencing a deep crisis in the Church as it happened several times in two thousand years.
Q Will it get worse before it gets better?
BAS: ‘I have the impression that it will be worse. Sometime the things have to go to the depths and then you will see the collapse of this anthropocentric, clerical system, which is abusing Church administration power, abusing the liturgy, abusing the concepts of God, abusing the faith and the piety of the little ones in the Church.
‘Then we will see the rising of a renewed Church. This is already preparing. Then this liberal clerical edifice will crash down because they have roots and no fruits.’
Q Some people would say you are worrying about unimportant things, what about the poor?
BAS: ‘This is erroneous. The first commandment which Christ gave us was to adore God alone. Liturgy is not a meeting of friends. It is our first task to adore and glorify God in the liturgy and also in our manner of life. From a true adoration and love of God grows love for the poor and our neighbour. It is a consequence. The saints in two thousand years of the Church, all those saints who were so prayerful and pious, they were all extremely merciful for the poor and to care for the poor.
‘In these two commandments are all the others. But the first commandment is to love and adore God and that is realised in a supreme manner in the sacred liturgy. When you are neglecting the first commandment, then you are not doing the will of God, you are pleasing yourself. Happiness is to fulfil the will of God, not to fulfil our will.’
Q How long will it be before the Church is renewed?
BAS: ‘I am not a prophet. We can only presume. But, if you look at the history of the Church, the deepest crisis was in the fourth century, that was Arianism. This was a tremendous crisis, all the episcopacy, almost all, collaborated with the heresy. Only some bishops remained faithful, you could count them on the fingers of one hand. This crisis lasted more or less 60 years.
‘Then the terrible crisis of the so-called Obscure century, the 10th century, when the papacy was occupied by some very wicked and immoral Roman families. They occupied the papal chair with their corrupt sons, and it was a terrible crisis.
‘The next period of harm was the so-called exile of Avignon and was very damaging to the Church, causing the great occidental schism. All these crisis lasted some 70-80 years and were very bad for the Church.
‘Now we are, I would say, in the fourth great crisis, in a tremendous confusion over doctrine and liturgy. We have already been in this for 50 years. Perhaps God will be merciful to us in 20 or 30 years? ‘Nevertheless we have all the beauty of the divine truths, of divine love and grace in the Church. No one can take this away, no synod, no bishop, not even a Pope can take away the treasure and beauty of the Catholic faith, of the Eucharistic Jesus, of the sacraments. The unchangeable doctrine, the unchangeable liturgical principles, the holiness of the life constitute the true power of the Church.’
Q Our time is seen as a much more liberal era in the Church.
BAS: ‘We have to pray that God will guide his Church from this crisis and give to his Church apostles who are courageous and holy. We need defenders of the truth and defenders of the Eucharistic Jesus. When a bishop is defending the flock and defending Jesus in the Eucharist, then this bishop is defending the little ones in the Church, not the powerful ones.’
Q So you don’t mind being unpopular?
BAS: ‘It is quite insignificant to be popular or unpopular. For every clergy the first interest is to be popular in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of today or of the powerful. Jesus said a warning: Woe of you when people speak good of you.
‘Popularity is false. Jesus and the apostles rejected popularity. Great saints of the Church, e.g. SS Thomas More and John Fisher, rejected popularity and they are the great heroes. And those who today are worried with the popularity of the mass media and public opinion, they will not be remembered in the history. They will be remembered as cowards and not as heroes of the Faith.’
Q The media has great expectations of Pope Francis.
BAS: ‘Thanks be to God, Pope Francis has not expressed himself in these ways that the mass media expect from him. He has spoken until now, in his official homilies, very beautiful Catholic doctrine. I hope he will continue to teach in very clear manner the Catholic doctrine.’
Q On sharing Holy Communion with Anglicans and others?
BAS: ‘This is not possible. There are different faiths. Holy Communion is not a means to achieve unity. It is the last step, not the first step. It would be a desecration of the Holy. Of course, we have to be one. Yet we have differences in belief, some substantial differences. The Eucharist is a sign of the deepest unity. It would be a lie, it would be contradictory to logic sharing Holy Communion with non-Catholics.
‘Ecumenism is necessary in order to be in contact with our separated brethren, to love them. In the midst of the challenge of the new paganism, we can and have to collaborate with serious non-Catholics to defend the revealed Divine truth and the natural law, created by God.’
‘It will be better not to have such a structure when the State is governing the life of the Church, such as for instance the appointments of the clergy or the bishops. Such a practice of a state church would damage the Church itself. In England e.g. the State is governing the Church of England. Such an influence of the State can corrupt spiritually and theologically the church, so it is better to be free from such an established state church.’
Q On women in the Church.
BAS: ‘Women are called the weaker sex, given they are physically weaker, however they are spiritually stronger and more courageous than men. It is courageous to give birth. Therefore God gave the woman a courage that a man doesn’t have.
‘Of course, there were many courageous men in the persecutions. Yet God loves to choose the weak ones to confuse the powerful. For instance the Eucharistic women, about which I spoke in my book Dominus Est worked in their families and desired to help the persecuted priests in a very exceptional way. They would never have dared to touch the holy hosts with their fingers. They would refuse to even read a reading during Mass. My mother, for example who is still living in Germany, aged 82, when she first went to the West, she was shocked, scandalised, to see women in the sanctuary during Holy Mass. The true power of the Christian and Catholic woman is the power to be the heart of the family, the domestic church, to have the privilege to be the first who gives nourishment to the body of his child and also to be the first who gives nourishment to the souls of the child, teaching it the first prayer and the first truths of the Catholic faith. The most prestigious and beautiful profession of a woman is to be mother, and especially to be a Catholic mother.’ Source
Catholic Truth has been saying for years now that there is already a de facto schism in the Church. Bishop Schneider seems to be trying to be a little more diplomatic, but he still warns of a schism to come, as a result of the current crisis in the Church. Is he correct? And what, in your view, is the most important thing about the Bishop’s interview? Is it something he said, or is it the fact that – at last – there is some leadership from a “mainstream” bishop who is clearly saying that “traditional” Catholics have been right, all along?