Friday, June 6, 2014



Bishop Athanasius Schneider: 

‘We are in the fourth great crisis of the Church’

During a trip to England the Soviet-born bishop says the Church
 today is experiencing ‘tremendous confusion’
By on Friday, 6 June 2014
Bishop Athanasius Schneider celebrates Pontifical High Mass during the Latin Mass Society pilgrimage to West Grinstead in Sussex (Photo: Joseph Shaw)
Bishop Athanasius Schneider celebrates Pontifical High Mass during
the Latin Mass Society pilgrimage to West Grinstead in Sussex (Photo: Joseph Shaw)
Liberals, collaborating with the “new paganism”, are driving the Catholic Church towards a split, according to Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the liturgical specialist who is carrying on a rearguard fight against “abuses” in the Church.
So serious are the problems, Bishop Schneider said in an interview last week, that this is the fourth great crisis in the history of the Church, comparable to the fourth-century Arian heresy in which a large part of the Church hierarchy was implicated.
If you have not heard of the Soviet-born bishop, you will. The sincere, scholarly clergyman is auxiliary bishop of the distant Archdiocese of St Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan. But this month he has received a rock star welcome from congregations across the country on his tour of England and he has embraced cyberspace to put over a trenchant, traditional defence of the Church. “Thanks be to God, the internet exists,” he said.
His views are not popular with everyone, especially not some of his liberal colleagues, or, he says, with the mainstream media of the secular world. But his audiences tell another story.
Bishop Schneider is best known for arguing that Holy Communion should be received on the tongue while kneeling, which he insists is the more efficient way to foster respect for the Sacrament and to prevent abuse of the Sacred Hosts. The 53-year-old bishop has called also for clarification (a new Syllabus of Errors), aimed at the clergy, to put a stop to liturgical and doctrinal freewheeling on a range of issues in the “spirit of Vatican II”.
In his interview, Bishop Schneider said the “banal” and casual treatment of the Blessed Sacrament is part of a major crisis in the Church in which some laity and clergy, including some in positions of authority, are siding with secular society. At the heart of the problems, he believes, is the creeping introduction of a man-centred agenda, while in some churches God, in the tabernacle, really is materially put in a corner, while the priest takes centre stage. Bishop Schneider argued that this situation is now coming to a head. “I would say, we are in the fourth great crisis [of the Church], in a tremendous confusion over doctrine and liturgy. We have already been in this for 50 years.”
How long will it last? “Perhaps God will be merciful to us in 20 or 30 years.”
In the autumn, the synod of bishops will meet in extraordinary session to discuss the family, in the light of the questionnaire which Pope Francis invited the faithful to complete, giving their views on marriage and sexuality. Expectations are growing that rules will be relaxed on a range of sexual matters and in terms of divorced people receiving Communion as a sign of “mercy” from the Church.
Such views, according to Bishop Schneider, reveal the depth of the problem. “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 and the forgetting of Christo-centrism…
“This is the deepest evil: man, or the clergy, putting themselves in the centre when they are celebrating liturgy and when they change the revealed truth of God, for instance, concerning the Sixth Commandment and human sexuality.”
Although he says talk of change is mainly coming from “the anti-Christian media”, he sees clergy and lay Catholics “collaborating” with what he calls the new paganism. Bishop Schneider is particularly critical of the idea that these changes should be made so as to be merciful to those currently barred from receiving the Sacraments. “[This is] a kind of sophism,” he said. “This is not mercy, this is cruel.”
He suggested this was “a false concept of mercy”, saying: “It is comparable to a doctor who gives a [diabetic] patient sugar, although he knows it will kill him.”
The bishop believes there are clear parallels with great crises of the past, when leading clergymen were complicit with heresies. In the Arian heresy, he said, naming them on his fingers, only a handful of the hierarchy resisted. “We [Christians] 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.”
He added: “Unfortunately there were … 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.”
And today, he maintained, we also have those who collaborate, our “traitors of the Faith”.
Pope Francis is perceived to be at the forefront of a new liberal attitude coming from Rome. But Bishop Schneider says: “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 a very clear manner the Catholic doctrine.”
The bishop said he hopes “the majority of the bishops still have enough Catholic spirit and faith that they will reject the proposal and not accept this”.
Nevertheless, he can foresee a split coming, leading to an eventual renewal of the Church on traditional lines. But, he believes, this will not be before the crisis has plunged the Church further into disarray. Eventually, he thinks, the “anthropocentric” [man-centred] clerical system will collapse. “This liberal clerical edifice will crash down because they have no roots and no fruits,” he said.
In the turmoil, Bishop Schneider, fears traditional Catholics may, for a time, be persecuted or discriminated against, even at the behest of those who have “power in the exterior structures of the Church”. But he believes those involved with the “heresy” will “not prevail against the Church”. And, in hope, the bishop said: “The Supreme Magisterium will surely issue an unequivocal doctrinal statement, rejecting any collaboration with the neo-pagan ideas.”
At this point, Bishop Schneider believes, the modern thurificati et traditores will leave the Church. “I can presume that such a separation will affect each level of Catholics: lay people and even not
excluding the high clergy,” he said.
Such comments are unlikely to win Bishop Schneider popularity in some circles, but he argues: “It is quite insignificant to be popular or unpopular. For every member of the clergy, their first interest should be to be popular in the eyes of God and not in the eyes of today or of the powerful. Jesus said a warning: ‘Woe to you when people speak well of you.’”
He added: “Popularity is false… Great saints of the Church, such as Thomas More and John Fisher, rejected popularity… those today who are worried about the popularity of the mass media and public opinion… will be remembered as cowards and not as heroes of the Faith.”
Bishop Schneider observes ruefully that there are many whose views coincide with those of the pagan world who “declare themselves Catholics and even faithful to the Pope”, while “those who are faithful to the Catholic faith or those who are promoting the glory of Christ in the liturgy” are labelled
Such critics may assert that Bishop Schneider’s concern over Holy Communion is like worrying over the numbers of angels on a pinhead. But the bishop insists that treatment of the Eucharist is at the very heart of the crisis. “The Eucharist is at the heart of the Church,” he said. “When the heart is weak, the whole body is weak.”
He argued that receiving Communion in hand “contributes gradually to the loss of the Catholic faith in the Real Presence and in transubstantiation”.
Bishop Schneider also rejected the idea that concern for the liturgy is less important than, or even separate from, concern for the poor. “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 bishop’s views have been shaped by his early childhood, growing up as a persecuted German Catholic in the Soviet Union, where he even had to attend atheism lessons at school. His book Dominus Est discloses
how the German Catholic community kept alive their faith despite severe hardship and persecution. In his own experience, his mother and great aunt took great risks for their faith and on behalf of others in the community. So Bishop Schneider and his family were horrified at the liberal attitudes and practices in the West, especially in respect of Holy Communion, which had been so rare and so precious to the persecuted German Catholics of the Soviet Union.
Seemingly like the little boy in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, the bishop now feels compelled to speak out and he cannot understand why others do not do the same. “It seems that the majority of the clergy and the bishops are content with this modern use of Communion in hand… For me this is incredible. How is this possible, when Jesus is present in the little Hosts?”
He continued: “There is the grievous fact of the loss of the Eucharistic fragments. And the fragments of the consecrated Host are crushed by feet. This is horrible! Our God, in our churches, is trampled by feet!”
Bishop Schneider admitted that he is “very sad that I am feeling myself as one who is shouting in the desert”.
He said: “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.”
But despite his concerns, Bishop Schneider is not pessimistic and believes that there is already a groundswell of support for traditional values that will, in time, renew the Church: “Little ones in the Church have been let down and neglected,” he said. “[But] 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.
“I spoke with young students in Oxford 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. 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.”
He added: “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.”
Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book Dominus Est: It is the Lord! is published by Newman House Press. His work Corpus Christi: Holy Communion and the Renewal of the Church, is published by Lumen Fidei Press


Vox Cantoris said...
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MR said...

Wow, this is absolutely beautiful.

Joe Potillor said...

This Bishop is one of the voices of sanity in an insane world...God bless, protect and keep him.

Vox Cantoris said...
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Joseph Johnson said...

Being that Bishop Schneider and I are the same age, I hope that I can live long enough to see this man, God willing, be elected Pope.

I simply cannot fathom why more Bishops do not seem to share his dire concerns about the detrimental effects of the modern practice of Communion in the hand.

Anonymous said...

That was one of the best articles I have read in a long time. I've loved Bishop Schneider since I became Catholic. How fitting his name should be Athanasius, who fought against the Arians

Anonymous said...

The sky is falling...the sky is falling.

Anonymous said...

Does this sound familiar now ?

1) a gradual relaxation of discipline which had weakened authority and opened the way to many scandals and unpunished abuses;

2) pursuit of humanistic aims, and (Bishops) becoming entangled in secular business and politics;

3) neglectful of these (teaching) sacred duties.

These are the major reasons listed for the "Protestant Rebellion" as listed in the Introduction of the "Catechism of the Council of Trent" 1566 AD)
The Pope and Bishops need to so something because of the DISUNITY within the Church.
DISUNITY is not diversity.
Catholics must be told to read the "Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition" at home.
And this is not being done in most Diocese.
The Synod should be about DSIUNITY in the Church as its first task, rather than ignoring the problem and pretending that it does not exist.
Many Bishops have to take the responsibility for the state the Church within their own Diocese.
Confusion, Heresy, and Relativism, within the Church is due mostly to lousy catechesis which could be remedied by having the literate read at HOME, a Bible and the CCC.
The Bishops also need to address public scandal rather than ignore it - per CCC and Code of Canon Law 915 & 1399.

Gene said...

Here is a heads up so you can prepare a defense:The Pope is allowing Muslim prayers to be said in the Vatican this weekend. Now, I cannot for the life of me
come up with a justification or a rationalization for this. But, I am sure there will be plenty. It will be interesting to view the array of them that will be offered to console us that everything is just fine in Rome. LOL!

Desiree said...

I saw that too about the Muslim prayers. That's insane!

I received the newsletter in the mail today and saw the summer book list. I see Christopher West is on there. I'd like you to read this link.

There are several other people writing about why the Theology of the Body and the Good News books are not properly based on the Catechism.

My mother and I were talking about proper Catholic married sexual behavior a few months ago. I've heard that it's good to think about what would the married saints have done.

JBS said...


Since Moslims pray facing a certain direction, perhaps Pope Emeritus Benedict suggested that Pope Francis permit this event in order to introduce to us all the Christian topic of ad orientem worship in the Church.

How's that?

Gene said...

Damn, JBS, you're good!!! Maybe you should hire yourself out as the Vatican apologist…LOL!

Gene said...

So, if this is not an act of apostasy, please explain why it is not. For those of us who came to the Catholic Church fleeing the unbelief and apostasy of protestantism, there is no place else for us to go. We are trapped in this horrible moment of Church history and can only wait for a correction of some kind from the Holy Spirit…or a judgement of some kind. I am not at all sure that the judgement is not the reality of the already given...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Fear not you'll be dead soon and at your judgement I doubt The Lord will ask your opinion of Muslim prayers at the Vatican, he'll just want to know if you died in a state of grace or unrepentant mortal sin.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Fear not you'll be dead soon and at your judgement I doubt The Lord will ask your opinion of Muslim prayers at the Vatican, he'll just want to know if you died in a state of grace or unrepentant mortal sin.

John Nolan said...

In 2010 Bishop Schneider celebrated Pontifical High Mass at Downside Abbey at the conclusion of the LMS organized priests' training course in the Old Rite. I was in the schola. Afterwards he spoke very movingly about his experiences. He mentioned meeting Benedict XVI and giving him a copy of his little book 'Dominus Est!' Shortly afterwards the Pontiff began his practice of giving Communion on the tongue to kneeling communicants.

Gene said...

No, indeed, I am not the one to whom God will be asking questions about Muslim prayers at the Vatican...

Anonymous said...

A supernatural vision - to see not the pomp and power of 'the world' but what eyes cannot see, is a gift. But it's also rare it would seem.

Most of us cower in fear of the world and what it can do to us if we cross it or even just threaten to rock the boat. Social shunning, then boycotts, then legal sanctions, fees....then liens, seizure of property, closure, arrest and incarceration... martyrdom.

But someone who lived through the worst that the USSR could do to people and lived to see that Leviathan collapse and vanish like a bad dream, is not going to put much stock in whatever it is we Westerners take for granted as the power and endurance of the world as we know it.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) it always comes down to "you and whose army". The army we can see, the world... or the army we cannot see but that is real all the same.

Are we willing to "lose" in order to win or will we jettison the faith so long as we keep some vestige, some remnant untouched by Leviathan?

China might be our future - an above ground, approved, official "patriotic church" which can keep its buildings and clergy..and an illegal, underground martyred Church faithful to the Pope and deposit of faith. It seems the ordinary Catholic laity jump from the two parallel churches when in great need but the underground one is the one with the great moral authority.

What would we prefer -moral authority or social privilege and power?

Anonymous 2 said...

Regarding Gene’s “scare” report that “the Pope is allowing Muslim prayers to be said at the Vatican this weekend” in an “act of apostacy,” here are the facts for those who would actually like facts instead of scaremongering:

So, you see, it is part of a peace initiative for the Middle East; key political representatives are invited to attend; it is not just Muslim prayers but also Christian and Jewish prayers; they will not “pray together” in a syncretistic manner but separately; and the praying will be done in a garden, not in St. Peter’s or other structure used for Catholic worship.

And if you are still concerned, there is a venerable precedent for such outreach by Pope Francis’s namesake during the Crusades:

And if you are still concerned even so, then you might want to read CCC paragraph 841, Lumen Gentium paragraph 16, and Nostra Aetate paragraph 3 addressing relations between Catholics and Muslims.

Of course, as I am now apparently the Appeaser-in-Chief in the eyes of some, all these facts will probably make little difference in some quarters.

Gene said...

Well, enjoy…LOL!

Gene said...

Yep, peace at any price, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Diplomacy has been called the art of saying "nice doggie" while looking for a rock to throw or a tree to climb.

So symbolic gestures matter only to the degree they may tip some scales favorably in your direction rather than away from them. Diplomatic niceties rarely on their own get some breakthroughs.

But this doesn't mean they ought not be tried. It just means we ought not put too much stock in them either way. It's not apostasy nor is it some brilliant detente with Islam per se (inasmuch as outside of Shiite Islam, there is no single hierarchy with which to negotiate).

In context it may help tip the scales to Muslims reciprocating in some fashion or feeling obligated to at least fake it and thus save lives otherwise in danger.

qwikness said...

Bishop Athanasius Schneider on EWTN Live