Friday, July 21, 2017



Guest Op-Ed - Bishop Schneider: The interpretation of Vatican II and its connection with the current crisis of the Church

Once again, we are honored to post this guest op-ed, submitted to us by His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider. We not only allow but encourage all media and blogs to reprint this as well.

By Bishop Athanasius Schneider
Special to Rorate Caeli
July 21, 2017

The interpretation of Vatican II and its connection with the current crisis of the Church

The current situation of the unprecedented crisis of the Church is comparable with the general crisis in the 4th century, when the Arianism had contaminated the overwhelming majority of the episcopacy, taking a dominant position in the life of the Church. We must seek to address this current situation on the one hand with realism and, on the other hand, with a supernatural spirit – with a profound love for the Church, our mother, who is suffering the Passion of Christ because of this tremendous and general doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral confusion.

We must renew our faith in believing that the Church is in the safe hands of Christ, and that He will always intervene to renew the Church in the moments in which the boat of the Church seems to capsize, as is the obvious case in our days. 


John Nolan said...

Sorry for another anecdote, but here goes. In 2010 I was part of a schola which sang at Downside Abbey at the Latin Mass Society's training course for priests wanting to learn the Old Rite. It involved Sung Mass, Lauds and Vespers.

The final Mass was a solemn Pontifical one celebrated by Bishop Schneider who had flown from Kazakhstan via Moscow. Owing to delays, he only arrived shortly before the start of Mass. We were cracking jokes about 'Bishop Borat' - Kazakhstan was a bit of a joke at that time owing to a popular movie.

At lunch afterwards he addressed us all. I have never heard a bishop speak like this. Quiet, with good (if not quite idiomatic) English, he held us spellbound. He is completely modest. Pope Benedict started distributing Communion on the tongue after reading 'Dominus Est!'. Bp Schneider took no credit for it. Kazakhstan is predominantly Muslim and Schneider got on better with them than he did with the Orthodox; yet in the end he was able to gain respect even from that notoriously difficult quarter.

Bishops are usually committee men. This one spoke from the heart and from experience - not just the experience of Soviet oppression, but the horror of returning to Germany and finding the Eucharist treated with scant respect.

A future pope? God, I hope so. He radiates sanctity and is still relatively young. Interestingly he shares a surname with S. Pius X - Schneider in German is Sarto in Italian.

Victor said...

I recall that even 25 years after the council, priests newly formed in Vatican II theology infalliblised the documents of V2, treating them as being more definitive than Scripture itself. Furthermore, what they said was often in the "spirit of the Council", and not what the V2 documents themselves said. It seems that V2 was turned into a pretext to further the modernist agenda of post WW2 euphoria.

Perhaps the most significant point that Bishop Schneider makes here is:

"From an objective point of view, the statements of the Magisterium (Popes and councils) of definitive character, have more value and more weight compared with the statements of pastoral character, which have naturally a changeable and temporary quality depending on historical circumstances or responding to pastoral situations of a certain period of time, as it is the case with the major part of the statements of Vatican II."

Pope Francis alluded to this when he spoke about bringing the FSSPX back into the fold, as it were, that there are interpretation issues with the Council documents, that is to say, these Conciliar documents are not all infallible.

And they are dated. My take on the Novus Ordo liturgy, is that it is so dated as to be obsolete. It may have briefly satisfied the post WW2 euphoric modernism considering that almost all the liturgical deformers in the Consilium went through the war in Europe, and it affected their world views, as wars do. That whole push into intelligiblity of the liturgy was a product of the times, the space age where nothing can stop human reason through science, the Enlightenment revisited. But what spoke directly to the heart was lost, and the Novus Ordo is irredeemable in that respect, since it is from the ground up about intelligibility as the way of salvation.

Gene said...

Very well said, Victor. So, really, the NO is a type of "gnosticism"...interesting. Our worship of human reason continues.

John Nolan said...


I agree. The Council met only seventeen years after the end of the war in Europe. The challenge in 1962 was how to escape from nuclear annihilation at the height of the Cold War. The bishops of France, Germany and the Low Countries were still fighting the previous war, and were determined to punish the Curia (then entirely dominated by Italians) for its perceived inadequacies in response to the events of the 1930s and 1940s.

How best to attack the Curia? By attacking the liturgy which could be seen as epitomizing Roman centralism. Why else would Sacrosanctum Concilium be the first document of the Council to be signed off? For the vast majority of Catholics the liturgy was not an issue.

The week which saw the Cuban missile crisis was the week where the takeover of the Council's agenda was put into effect. It was also decided that the main issue confronting the Church and the world (totalitarian atheistic Communism) would not be addressed by the Council.

So a Council supposedly dedicated to 'aggiornamento' deliberately cut itself off from the main issue of the day.

To maintain that the 'spirit of Vatican II' was a later modernist distortion of the 'true' Council is to miss the point. It was there before the council met, merely biding its time.

Anonymous said...

Except for the fact that liturgical reform was happening throughout the 500 years prior to SC, the assertion that the Curia was being "attacked" by SC would make sense.

Alcuin Reid has written, "The liturgical movement, was not founded in order to create oases of medieval liturgical splendor or archeological delight, but to nourish everyday Christian life by participation in the Liturgy celebrated in local churches and chapels. In its origins it sought to awaken people’s consciousness, including, and primarily, that of the clergy, to the Church’s traditional spiritual treasury that was widely ignored." (Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, 70-71.)

Reid cites Dom Lambert Beauduin (1873-1960) as "founder" of the liturgical movement who began writing in the early 1900's. Vernacular languages were being permitted in the 1920's. In the 1940's Pius XII established a new liturgical commission to continue the development of the liturgical reforms.

SC did not come out of nowhere as an attack on anyone.

John Nolan said...

I'm not suggesting that SC came out of nowhere, that it did not embody at least some of the ideals of the Liturgical Movement (which incidentally encompassed a wide range of views) or that it was in itself an attack on the Curia. Yet the anti-Curial mindset of many of the European bishops is evident. Cardinal Heenan wrote later 'Most of us arrived in Rome in October 1962 without any idea of the anti-Italian mood of many Europeans.'

The 'capture' of the Council by a well-organized 'progressive' faction was described as early as 1967 by RM Wiltgen in his book 'The Rhine Flows into the Tiber'. The first aim was to neutralize the Curia.

As far as the liturgy was concerned the progressivists (for want of a better term) scored a notable victory when they persuaded Paul VI to entrust the liturgical reform to a Consilium dominated by Annibale Bugnini, rather than to the Sacred Congregation of Rites.

The rest, as they say, is history. What is certain is that the aims of the Liturgical Movement were not achieved, as Joseph Ratzinger (a life-long adherent) ruefully admitted.

Victor said...

There is some truth in what Mr Nolan says concerning the Consilium vs the Curia when we read various memoirs of those involved with the liturgical reform. However, you raise an issue that is often mentioned in connection with liturgical "reform" that I would like to comment on.

You mention it, but what "liturgical reform was happening throughout the 500 years prior to SC", and what is meant by "reform"? When in those 500 years, nay, 1,500 years, was there a liturgical reform anything close to what happened after V2?

There were little adjustments made throughout those 500 years, which is normal, but no major changes happened until right after WW2 when a need was seen to make major changes to the liturgy, a "reform", as if what there had been during the 500 years before was wrong and needed correcting. Why was a reform needed at that time, and why did the Council address it? In other words, what had changed in those 500 years to necessitate major reforms? What exactly are these spiritual treasures that a reform was supposed to awaken the people's consciousness to, considering that the Council of Trent spoke of "The chief fruit of the Eucharist is an intrinsic union of the recipient with Christ"? And what exactly is active participation and why was it needed in the sense that the Consilium envisaged it, considering that active participation does not depend on the liturgy, but on the disposition of the faithful who attend the liturgy?

To be honest, I fail to find adequate answers to all those questions, other than noticing a general desire to bring the Church in line with Enlightenment thinking (and hence modernism) by the influential "experts" of the Liturgical Movement. The issues raised for a liturgical reform show how dated the reform idea was, stuck in the world views of the mid 20th century. We have such a stress on active participation which SC makes as the ultimate aim for any liturgical reforms, as if for the previous 1500 years there had been none or insufficient. There seems to be a lot of pride here, and certainly chronological snobbery, as if all of a sudden we know better than ever before in the 20th Century what the best is for the faithful.

Moreover, if not on the verge of idolatry, then certainly as the height of clericalism, is it to say, as SC does, that the Sacred Liturgy is the “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed..." Surely the Church is more than liturgy revolving around priests. Is not that summit, rather, the continuation of Christ's work of redemption as Trent stated, where liturgy is food for the soul in achieving holiness?

Mark Thomas said...

The radical reforms, liturgical and otherwise, that Pope Venerable Pius XII initiated following World War II were the result of 20th Century Ecumenical Movement as well as the then-recent horrors of WWII.

During the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, more and more Churchmen determined that the time had arrived to raze the bastions of the Church that dated to the 16th Century Protestant Revolt.

Despite Pope Pius XI's trashing of the Ecumenical Movement, "liberal" Catholic Churchmen believed that the Ecumenical Movement was inspired by the Holy Ghost to end Catholic-Protestant (also Catholic-Eastern Orthodox) "hostilities."

Pope Venerable Pius XII sided with Churchmen who believed that the Holy Ghost had inspired the Ecumenical Movement.

The Ecumenical Movement, along with the then-fresh horrors of World War II...the horror inflicted by Nazi Germany...the insane hatred that led to the deaths of tens of millions of people from 1933-1945...spurred a great many Churchmen to seek a "new way" of peace with non-Catholics (the world, so to speak).

To move the Church closer to non-Catholics, our Churchmen smashed the Roman Mass (the ancient Roman Mass was "too Catholic"). Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus was watered-down.

The tinkering of (Latin Church) Good Friday prayers for Jews was initiated. The ultimate "tinkering" arrived when Pope Benedict XVI invented a new Good Friday prayer for the Jews (1962 A.D. Mass of Pope Saint John XXIII).

Pope Benedict XVI claimed that the traditional prayers in question "wounded" Jews.

Apologies were issued to non-Catholics.

So as not to "offend" non-Catholics, one Catholic symbol after another was watered-down and/or replaced.

The Ecumenical Movement and, in great measure, the then-fresh horrors of WWII, inspired the sudden radical Church reforms, beginning during the late 1940s, that our Popes promoted to establish a new, fresh relationship between the Church and non-Catholics (the Church's opening to the world).

Despite the collapse of the Church from that time to date, the majority of Churchmen are determined to move forward with the Church's "opening to the world."


Mark Thomas