Bishop Athanasius Schneider, 60, from Kazakhstan
Letter #164, 2021, Friday, December 3: The Schneider Tapes: The Full Interview
We have now posted the complete interview from my late October interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, 60, of Astana, Kazakhstan, and it is now available on Rumble (link) and YouTube (link).
In this complete interview, Bishop Schneider speaks about his faith in Jesus Christ and about the present crisis of the Church and our society, which is a crisis of faith, and also of human dignity and freedom.
I wish to thank Bishop Schneider for his willingness to sit down with me for more than two hours to discuss these questions of such importance for our Church and world.
Schneider’s vision of our present predicament differs in some ways from that of Archbishop Viganò, but the two are united in a fundamental conviction: both men, one from the heart of the former Soviet Union, the other from the heartland of once-Catholic Italy, see a profound danger for humanity, and of course also for the Church, in a type of abandonment of traditional Christian religious belief and practice.
To repeat: both men see the loss of faith in Christ as the most grave danger.
Why do these two men see this loss of faith as the gravest danger?
Because they see that humanity’s fate, humanity’s future, without faith in Christ, is quite dark, filled with shadows, fears, obsessions, addictions, enslavements.
Both Schneider and Viganò, and many around the world who listen to them with respect and appreciation, see the perennial Catholic faith, handed down from the Apostles and taught faithfully for 2,000 years, set forth clearly in the Creed, as that “light” which shines forth amid the shadows of our world, guiding us, individually and collectively, amid various physical and spiritual oppressions, follies, lies and cruelties.
Both men see in Jesus Christ — whom St. John the Evangelist at the beginning of his Gospel calls “the Logos of God” (we might translate the Greek word “logos” variously as “the Word of God” or “the Reason of God” or even “the Meaning of God” = Christ was “the meaning of God”) — both Schneider and Viganò see in Christ the answer to the long quest of the human mind and heart, individually and collectively, for truth, reason and blessedness.
The “Logos,” once encountered, Christ once encountered, provides rest, joy, faith, true happiness, and in the end, true life.
Both Schneider and Viganò, despite some differences on specific points, agree on this one central point: both emphasize the centrality of the Logos, of Christ, as the true answer to humanity’s longings and hopes.
And therefore, by placing Christ at the center, both men place at the periphery, and ultimately banish into outer darkness, the many false answers being continuously broadcast by every secular (and many self-proclaimed religious) media to all of us today (as also in past times).
By placing Christ at the center, both men staunchly oppose the multitude of gnostics, ideologues, deniers of the Logos, all of whom in the end agree and proclaim that the Logos (Christ) is “a myth,” “not real,” “incapable of providing any help or hope to men and women,” and that, instead, only “naked human will,” “raw human self-reliance,” “fully embraced human pre-eminence” — human beings in the place of every divinity or God — can truly offer a pathway forward for humanity.
This is the battle.
It is a battle between the sacred (the holy) and the secular (the profane).
It is a battle between the transcendent and the denial of the transcendent.
It is a battle between the spiritual and the material, between faith and the denial of faith… between faith and the proscription of faith, the suppression of faith, the criminalization of faith, the construction of new gulags and concentration camps…
It is a battle between belief in the possibility of redemption after sin, failure and despair, and belief in the impossibility, the unreality, of such redemption — indeed, the denial of the possibility of such redemption, and even more, the embrace of that denial as a sign of psychological and spiritual maturity.
And so both Schneider and Viganò stand against the dominant spirit of our age, which one might say is the dominant spirit of every age, for it is the spirit of this world, and of the Prince of this world, whose soft words tempted our first parents, and Jesus himself, and still tempt us today…
And so, as in every age, also in our own age, this “secular humanist” spirit — this mentality which opposes and sets aside Christ as the central truth of all reality, this mentality which sets aside the Logos of God as the true, life-giving spiritual source for any and all authentic life for “im-personed” beings, beings endowed by their Creator with personhood (for all persons endowed with free will and capable of love are made to be in relationship with the infinite, personal, holy God, ontologically constituted as Holiness itself, Holy Personhood itself, eternally self-existent prior to the beginning and after the end of time) — this “secular humanist” spirit seeks to impose on all humanity its own vision, its false vision, its “anti-Logos” vision, and so to close off to every human soul all access to the sky, to heaven, to “that which is above.” —RM
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Click the video below for the full interview.
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Here is the transcript of the entire interview. We provide this transcript even though the interview is already in English for three reasons: 1) so you have the complete transcript also in written form to email to others, etc.; 2) so that the transcript in typed form is available to be translated into other languages by those who wish to share the text with people in other countries; 3) so that any expressions which seem unclear in the spoken video are clarified in the transcript.
Transcript, The Schneider Tapes: The Full Interview
In which Bishop Schneider reflects on his three-week trip to the United States in October 2021, and the meaning of his episcopal motto.
Robert Moynihan: Hello. We are here today with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, 60 years old, from Astana in Kazakhstan. Bishop Schneider, we had a few questions to ask you about your trip in recent weeks to the United States, and then more generally about the situation of the Church, and the world, in late 2021.
As we speak, it’s October 24, and you have been traveling in the United States for three weeks.
Can you tell us briefly about your trip? Where did you go? What have you seen? And what caused you some concern?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: I had a general positive impression very much this time.
The reason why I came: I was invited by the Catholic Identity Conference in Pittsburgh and then by the Call to Holiness conference in Detroit. These were the main events, and then also the Solemn Pontifical Mass in honor of Blessed Emperor Karl [of Austria] last 21st of October here in Virginia and in the Washington D.C. area.
These were the three main events why I came here to the United States, and then I visited also other places and gave some conferences for the masses. I visited the Sophia Press Headquarters in New Hampshire.
I had really a general positive impression this time.
I would say I witnessed really signs of a true springtime of the Church.
I met so many young families. The masses which I celebrated and the conferences were crowded and the majority were young people, families, even children, the youth, students, and this was really a joy for a bishop to see young people.
They were all longing to hear the truth, the simple Catholic faith, to participate in the Liturgy, the Latin Mass, and the full traditional Latin Mass of all the Ages, of the saints. And then I also visited some colleges, some Catholic colleges. I witnessed the same vigor and joy and longing for the truth of the Catholic faith and the Liturgy.
I could say that these all were signs of hope in these difficult times and I’m believing that the United States is a country where now the true tradition is growing ever more among young people and your families.
Moynihan: Your judgment is really very positive even though at times you have been described as someone who is very conservative and speaking out against excesses or departures from the faith. But what you discovered here was really a very positive Catholic Church in the United States.
Bishop Schneider: Indeed. And these faithful which I met, young people, some young priests — I did not discover nothing of criticism against the Church or against the Vatican Council. I did not find nothing of this in these Masses which I celebrated, the traditional Masses.
There were large crowds. Large crowds participated, and after we had a meeting. These were joyful meetings. Simply a joy of the Catholic faith and the beauty of the traditional Liturgy.
Therefore the accusations to these faithful that they are divisive or they are against the Council or criticizing, I did not discover this time. In no place. Therefore such accusations are in such a general form are very unjust and uncharitable.
Moynihan: I wanted to ask about your episcopal motto. It’s a Greek phrase: Kyrie eleison. You are one of the very few Catholic bishops who have a motto in Greek; almost all of them have a motto in Latin. Can you tell us how you chose this motto, what it means to you, and what it means to all of us?
Bishop Schneider: This motto came to me spontaneously after I was informed that I was appointed a bishop and the nuncio told me to choose a motto, and this came to me immediately in my mind. Kyrie eleison.
First the meaning is “Lord have mercy on us.”
I think everyone of us in the world today, what we need mostly is the mercy of God, in the entire world.
And I chose this in the Greek form because it is in the Latin Mass of All Ages. We say Kyrie eleison even in the Latin Mass. We say not in Latin Domine miserere, but Kyrie eleison.
And I chose this because I was appointed bishop in the East, in Kazakhstan, and where the Christians are mostly Eastern-rite Christians. And so I chose this, from the East, and this should be our bridge between the eastern Christians and the western, Latin, and this prayer, Kyrie eleison, this invocation, I think would express a prayer which unites us, the eastern Christians, Byzantines especially, because they are a Greek rite, and the Latin, Western Christians, the Holy See and Rome, and the eastern Christians, and so these were my thoughts when I chose this motto.
Moynihan: How would you say your motto in the Russian language?
Bishop Schneider: Bishop In Russian, would be Gospodi pomiluy. It is also in the Byzantine liturgy continuously repeated in the Slavonic language, Church Slavonic, Gospodi pomiluy, or in the Greek liturgy, Kyrie eleison. [Note: For a musical performance of Gospodi pomiluy, see here.)
Moynihan: So your motto is at the heart of the old Latin liturgy, but it is not in Latin. And it’s at the heart of the Eastern liturgy, whether spoken in Russian or in Greek. So in a way your heart is liturgical. Your motto as a bishop is liturgical…
Bishop Schneider: Yes, because in a way all beings that God created are created to be liturgical beings.
Moynihan: And what does that mean?
Bishop Schneider: That means to adore and glorify God.
This is the aim, why God created all, and why God created angels and man, reasonable creatures: to glorify Him.
Therefore we are substantially, essentially, liturgical beings.
Our existence is liturgical, in the broader sense.
To glorify and adore God, to give Him the first place.
And this is the task of the Church, to adore God in a worthy manner.
To give Him the priority, the primacy, as the Apostle said, to the prayer, and not to our actions, and activisms, but first to the prayer, and to the official worshipping which is the Holy Liturgy…
Bishop Schneider reflects on the present effort to transcend the bounds of the human through technology
Robert Moynihan: Well, in modern times, this idea, that the essential purpose of man is to glorify God, has slightly been shifted, to glorifying man. This is called humanism.
In some way, this is the central distinction between the Christian view of the world — glorifying God — and the modern secular humanist view — glorifying man.
Do you see it in those terms?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Of course, this is evident.
So we see, as you mentioned correctly, since the so-called Renaissance time, and then more stressed in the 18th century of the so-called Enlightenment and then promoted officially and mainly by the Freemason societies in this public life to put man into the center, and that man should be the judge of truth, and of what is good and what is evil.
And then man should be adored, instead of God.
So God is becoming in the modern society, therefore, an obstacle.
God is becoming an obstacle completely, since God can be only an idea for someone.
But God is concrete and he incarnated himself.
God became man, visible, Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
And, therefore, Jesus Christ as true God and true man is, for this anthropocentric, humanistic, and especially Freemasonic ideology, the main obstacle — Jesus Christ as God and man, who is present here on earth since his incarnation, in the Church and the sacraments, and in the crosses and all the signs.
These had to be removed and to replaced by a new religion which is the religion of man, to adore man.
And this is the deepest wound of the modern culture, and this was the greatest danger and the greatest sin.
And this was the core, the essence, of the sin, first of the fallen angels, to adore themselves and not God, and then, especially, also the core of the sin of Adam and Eve.
They wanted to decide.
We are deciding.
We are deciding what is good, and not God.
And we are doing something independent of God.
It was, of course, they were seduced by the serpent, by the devil, but they accepted this fault and then they repented, thanks be to God, and God gave them the sign of the redemption.
Moynihan: But what you are really speaking about is what humanity chooses as its goal in being human, and in recent years, it’s become quite common to say, “We will transform humanity, we will become a new humanity, we will become Homo Sapiens 2.0, a new version.”
And that we will do this by certain additions, to our brain — maybe some [micro] chips — and to our bodies — maybe some special technology — and the question of the soul really doesn’t emerge in this view, because the soul is regarded as a myth.
So we have a humanity that looks at 1,000 or even 2,000 years — we could say — of Christian or “Christo-centric” culture, and then, for 100 or 200 years, an increasing distance from that, and now reaching a kind of crisis.
And you said in your very interesting book interview, Christus Vincit, “Pure technology is spiritually cold, and therefore people are not happy. They’re empty, they’re continuously seeking pleasures to escape the inner void. To avoid the ugliness, the insanity, people are running after new pleasures, new technologies, and they become, in their souls, cold, egoistic, and cruel.”
What spiritual alternative do you see to this soul-less, technological culture? And do you think it’s important?
Bishop Schneider: Of course.
You mention these temptations, attempts to transhumanism, and this is really an expression of the greatest pride and the greatest sin against God, [for man] to put himself, to place himself in the place of God and to create something new as a human being.
But they will not succeed, never, because God will not allow this.
God is the only Lord and Creator of the human being.
They can try to do some technical additions, or…
They will not succeed to change the nature of man.
This is God-given and God created this.
They can maybe harm the human nature, but they cannot change human nature.
They will try to do.
Because this is an area which God reserved for himself completely.
And, therefore, they can only create something [by] a technology and something cold, and this will not make happy a real human being, because there is the soul.
And the soul exists and the soul is created immediately by God in the moment of the conception of the new human life.
And the soul is immortal.
And so, they cannot kill the soul.
As Jesus Christ said in the Gospel “Do not fear those who can kill the body, but who, as God, who can condemn you for eternity in the soul.”
And so, the soul will always remain immortal and a human being.
Well, these attempts to make this transhumanism agenda will not succeed.
Maybe they will succeed, a relatively short time. And then it will collapse, because human nature will revolt, itself. When you try to violate the nature, nature will live out itself against you.
And this will happen because the soul is created by God.
And this, in some way, gives us also hope that, after these horrible attempts of transhumanism and what we are now witnessing of this culture of cold technology and egoism, God will again give humanity the sense of longing for true human values, for, to have a heart, to have a soul, to have relationships marked by the heart, by the soul, not by the cold intellect of technology.
Bishop Schneider warns against the negative consequences of the present effort to transcend traditional humanity
Robert Moynihan: In various times in human history, people have tried to refashion humanity.
The Roman emperors demanded that they be worshipped, and the Christians refused to bow, or to offer incense to Caesar. And they were persecuted for that; they were killed.
The Soviet Union wanted to create a new man, the Homo Sovieticus, the “Soviet Man,” who would no longer be part of a class society, but would be a brother — a brotherhood of working men and women.
But this society collapsed, just as the Roman Empire collapsed. And we saw it in our own lifetimes.
You grew up in the Soviet Union. Can you tell us anything about this attempt to create a new type of man, and why it failed?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Yes.
First, it failed because it was not based on the simple order of creation, which God created.
So, God is the inventor and, in some way, he is the artist, the architect of the universe, and of human life and human being in a given order.
And when you do not observe the function, the laws, of a being or even of an instrument, then it will collapse by [over] time, not work.
And so the same when the communists build up a society completely materialistic, with denying the immortality of the soul, denying eternity, only the temporal materialistic view, this is against the nature of human being.
This will not (continue) functioning for long time.
It could function and it did function for maybe 70 years and then it collapsed.
And even they proclaimed the eternal Soviet Union, Vechny Sovetsky Soyuz, the eternal communism — eternal! — even though they did not believe in eternity.
Or other dictatorships as Hitler. Hitler spoke of the Tausendjähriges Reich (“Thousand Year Reich”). The millennial reign. And he collapsed after 12 years.
And so, it will also occur when people will establish such a society as the Homo Sovieticus against the plan of God.
Moynihan: Well, some people have a sense that we are at the present moment experiencing one more version of this attempt to reshape and remake the human being.
We call it, perhaps, globalism.
But it’s a globalism based on tremendous computer power, tremendous memory of computer chips which can record every purchase that you have made in your life, so they can decide if you like a donut, or an egg.
And they can get a profile of you, over time, that then could be helpful in determining what you might be afraid of, what you might be attracted to, and in this way, the increasing information society, with these global-straddling technological companies, the “technocracy,” would seem to be merging the human person into some type of a… almost a global mind.
Does this seem to be something that we should be concerned about?
Bishop Schneider: Of course. We are witnessing this, all of us, that we are even in our daily life under a continuous control, on our phones, and now in the travels which we are doing, and now with the new, forced mandated vaccinations, which are also a clear sign of control, so they can track us.
So these signs are signs that a person who is controlled continuously is not free, and it is substantially a slave then, because you are not free.
You are controlled.
The slaves are controlled.
Moynihan: Now, you mention tracking, but are you saying because you carry a card or a pass, or are you saying there is something in the vaccine itself?
Bishop Schneider: I don’t know this. But only that you are marked.
You are already written, your (the) number of your pass, green pass, or the other pass, is all your dates.
And when you are traveling, it’s already, you have to show this.
Even when you are going to a supermarket, you have to show the green pass.
And so, and this is recorded, of course.
Moynihan: You say this is a sign of not being free, or being a slave. But isn’t it matter merely of being well-ordered, and well-organized?
Bishop Schneider: No, it is apparently well-organized.
It is well-organized, it has to be well-organized, in order to keep together a slave society.
If you are not well-organized, you cannot keep and control a mass slave society.
Moynihan: But who, then, would be the controllers? And there’s a phrase in Latin, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? “Who will guard the guardians themselves?”
How can we be sure that the “masters,” as it were, of this new, well-organized, orderly world global society are benevolent, are wise, are kind and generous, rather than, perhaps, being malevolent, unkind, and actually exploiting the humanity that they have such total control over?
Bishop Schneider: It would be completely naive to assume that those who make such a well-ordered control are benevolent.
Because if you limit the freedom, it is not benevolent.
I so much like the motto of the state of Massachusetts, “Live free or die.”
Moynihan: I think it’s New Hampshire…
Bishop Schneider: New Hampshire, excuse. New Hampshire, where I was recently.
And this is, when I am starting to control someone in such a way, it is in itself not benevolent.
Because I am controlling, not children who are, who cannot have their reason — then I have to control to protect them — but I am controlling adult persons who have their own will, free will, who have their own intellect.
And so I am converting the society to a kind of… or, in a benevolent way, I would say, to little children who do not know how to reason, how to behave, or to slaves.
But I am more inclined that they treat us by time (over time, over the passage of time) as slaves, with these beautiful expressions and pictures of protectors…
Bishop Schneider outlines his reasons for believing the Covid crisis, vaccine mandates and lockdowns are part of a worldwide plan to “reset” the global world order. He calls for a resistance to this tyranny and offers a critique of the position of Pope Francis.
Robert Moynihan: Ok, so this is a dramatic vision that you are sketching. You grew up in the Soviet Union. You’re traveling now in the United States. The Soviet Union was a controlled society.
Is this truly a controlled society? Because we consider ourselves free. One of our great phrases is, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Yes.
I think that, of course, the Communist society was a society of total control. But in those times, there were not yet these means, technical means, of control, as today.
After now for almost, more than 30 years to (since the) collapse, there were not yet in those times these technical means of control. Now we have them.
And, therefore, it is evident, as we already stated, in our daily life, in our travels and so on, the technology, and our emails, and our cell phones and so on, are already controlled. We know this.
And with the, I repeat, with the global vaccination. It’s a further step. I don’t enter into the technological details of the vaccination, but only the fact of this, that it is promoted with such intransigency.
This is already a sign of preoccupation and concern.
And so, we have to, again, to restate and to create a world chain and movement of people, of all people of good will, to regain the basic civil freedom.
To be not treated as little children who do not know what they do, or as slaves, by a small, powerful group of an elite, which is dictating to all governments, to all nations, and tell (telling) the detail (of) how to behave.
For example, in this COVID crisis, it was manifested, it is a very detailed, elaborated plan from a kind of elite group, central, who is giving the orders, all the same orders, the same details, the same terminology, to all countries of the world.
Moynihan: So you’re saying, your evidence for the fact that —for what you believe is a global coordinated effort— is the very fact that the same phrases were used in different countries, the same programs were unfolded, unrolled…
Bishop Schneider: Yes, yes. It is not my belief, it is — I state, you can state the facts. And so, we are not stupid, I mean, we have to simply open our eyes and our minds, and we state this that even unto the details, the signs, the symbols, the terminology, the plans, all are coordinated. It cannot simply fall from heaven.
Moynihan: Well you are a Catholic priest, a Catholic priest and bishop, and you are presenting yourself, you mentioned there needs to be a global community that coordinates a type of resistance to this. Are you truly saying that?
Bishop Schneider: Yes. Of course we do need [it]. For the sake of, again, reestablishing a true, worthy human life, to restore the dignity of the human life, to respect the freedom, the true freedom, and to eliminate all signs of tyranny, of dictatorship.
Moynihan: Tyranny and dictatorship. But do you think that you have any allies in this?
Bishop Schneider: I think that history has shown that there were always people in difficult times who started a resistance. You know?
The resistance movements in Nazi Germany, we know.
The resistance movements in Communist countries, and those who fought in the resistance movements later when the dictatorial systems collapsed.
They are honored as heroes really, but they were persecuted, of course, in the time of the resistance.
And so, I think we have to unite, really, for all countries, people of goodwill, this really with all levels of society, who simply use their common sense.
Moynihan: But I have to say, I must interject, we have, at the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
He’s asked people to, more or less, accept and agree with, and go along with, this coordinated effort to create some type of global response to the virus with this vaccination, and then to accept the restrictions, the masks, etc.
How can you explain that this successor of Peter could be so different in his analysis of this situation than you are? You, who are also a bishop in the same Church?
Bishop Schneider: I think this is not the task of a Pope, to help such a global, evident movement, which is evidently, in an excessive form, restricting the fundamental liberties of human society, of individuals, to be the promoter of such simply “inner-worldly” realities.
This is not a task of the Church. This was not the task of St. Peter, which Christ gave him, and to his successors.
Peter said, when the temptation came, that (when) the first Pope and the first bishops, the apostles, wanted to deal more with the earthly realities, to serve the tables, we read this in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter, the apostle, said, “It is not fitting, it is not good, that we abandon our first task which is the prayer, so the glorification of God, the liturgy, and the proclamation of the Gospel, of the truth, of the Word.”
And this the Church must, and every Pope, must follow.
Unfortunately, during 2000 years there were cases when the pope, some popes, did not follow this, and were immersed in simply, worldly realities, forgetting their first task of praying, promoting the prayer, and the preaching of the truth of the Gospel, and salvation of souls not of bodies in the first place.
And so, we had for example, in the Renaissance times, popes who completely were immersed in, simply, in worldly things.
Moynihan: Alexander Borgia.
Bishop Schneider: Yes, for example, or even Julius II, he was always spending his time as a Pope on the horse, fighting, as a soldier, as a Pope, as a commander of an army.
And so, or another, Leo X spent all his time devoting himself to his music and other worldly things.
In any case, this is for me also a sign that the current Pope must really deeply reflect if he is really observing his first mandate which Christ gave to Peter and then to him and to really to take it serious the words of St. Peter which were mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles.
Pope Francis and Bishop Schneider in conversation
Bishop Schneider denies that he is an enemy of Pope Francis and asserts that he is in fact the best friend of the Pope.
Robert Moynihan: So, you are making a critique of the choice of Pope Francis to make statements about medical and political decisions, which he is “seconding”, as it were, and you’re saying he’s going beyond his real mission, and that he’s neglecting, in this way, the mission to evangelize, the mission to preach the Gospel.
But yet, some people wonder if you are an enemy of Pope Francis, but you told me earlier that you are, in fact, his best friend.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Well, first, I would say, the word “critique” is today understood in different manners.
It is first, I would say, a very benevolent, if it is a critique, then it is a very benevolent critique, a fraternal correction.
It is a sign of fraternal charity.
The moral theologist says that when you correct benevolently someone, your neighbor, in a benevolent way, this is a sign of the love for your neighbor.
So, and I am his brother in the episcopate. And I want, I only desire for him the best.
And if I would be silent, I think that my conscience would accuse me of committing an omission, a sin of omission.
You could say to your brother, to your elder brother, the Pope, to the Peter something which is important for his salvation, for his soul, for his mission and for the benefit of the entire Church, and you did not. Because you were maybe afraid or you were politically correct.
I think a bishop should not behave himself in such a way. And, therefore, and when you do benevolent, really, correction only for the good of this person and for his task, you have to accompany this with prayers. And this I do.
I never in my life prayed for no one so much as for Pope Francis, in my life, and celebrated holy masses. And, therefore, in this way I will say “Holy Father, I am your real, I am your best friend.”
Bishop Schneider describes a private meeting with Pope Francis in March 2019 in which Schneider raised a question about the “permissive will” of God which the Pope answered
Robert Moynihan: You told me yesterday that you were with Pope Francis in a meeting with other bishops from the former Soviet Union, and you spoke at that meeting about the document of Abu Dhabi [“A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” February 4, 2019] which speaks of the different religions as “willed by God.”
You spoke eloquently about how that was a delicate moment, and how Pope Francis answered you, and how you answered Pope Francis, and I thought it would be quite interesting if you could recreate what happened at that meeting…
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Yes, because it was the ad limina visit of the region of Central Asia, bishops, one month after the Abu Dhabi document. (link)
Moynihan: So when was it [the meeting] exactly?
Bishop Schneider: It was in the beginning of March, 2019, and there was a very dangerous phrase in the Abu Dhabi document, which the Pope signed, and which is impossible for a Christian to maintain in such a formulation, I mean. It was formulated highly ambiguous, at least ambiguous, but erroneous.
Moynihan: So you are saying one phrase in that document is something you find erroneous and so you brought this up.
Bishop Schneider: Yes. This is, we already stated, that God wants the diversity of the sexes, diversity of nations, of people, languages, cultures, and in His wise Will He wants the diversity of these as enumerated simply and religions.
In the plural, religions.
So you cannot put at the same level the diversity of the human sexes, man and woman, that is the reality of the marriage created by God in his positive will or the diversity of nations at the same level to put the fact that God wills the diversity of the religions.
Moynihan: So what happened at the meeting?
Bishop Schneider: No, I am only concluding with this phrase now, because the diversity of religions, they are also included wrong religions, ideology adorations, and so on. And, this God can never want in the same way as He wants the diversity of the human sexes, of the two sexes.
But it is written in one phrase, in one, let us say, in one breath. And this is wrong. We cannot state these at the same level. We have to formulate it in another way.
And therefore, I ask the Holy Father at the beginning of the meeting. He was very kindly, fraternally. And said, he spoke about the document, he himself started to speak about the document of Abu Dhabi. And then he said to us, “You are free to express your opinion.”
And so, I expressed my opinion.
The Pope invited us and I said to him, “Most Holy Father, I am very concerned about this phrase, which now we mentioned, I quoted this same phrase of the Abu Dhabi document and I ask you to retract this phrase because it relativizes the uniqueness of Our Lord Jesus Christ as the only way, the only religion willed by God. I ask you to proclaim this to the entire world. And, if you will do this, the people of our time, our day, will be able to say, ‘Through the mouth of Francis spoke Peter.’” This was my short contribution.
And the Pope thanked me very kindly, friendly for this contribution.
And he answered that the diversity of the religions has to be understood as the permissive will of God.
So permissive will of God is an expression in theology which means that God in some way tolerates this situation but does not will it positively, directly, as several negative realities in human life and history are by God tolerated or permitted. For example, our sins, also. God permits this because he does not want to force our freedom. And so, this is the permissive will of God.
But then, I answered, I asked again, “But, Holy Father, the diversity of the human sexes, man and woman, is not the permissive will of God. Since this phrase is one phrase and enumerating only.”
And then, the Holy Father said, “Yes, this phrase could be misunderstood.” So, he answered me. And in the presence of the other bishops, “could be misunderstood.”
And here, again repeated, “But you can say to the people, ‘This is the permissive will of God.’”
I, again, ask him kindly, “Holy Father, please, do you this.”
And then, on April the 3rd, he spoke in a General Audience about the diversity of religions and he said, “The theologians explained this with the permissive will of God.”
At least, he spoke this publicly.
But I think it should be he could have more precisely explained this in the general audience what this means, the permissive will of God. And it would be good that he would have mentioned the document of Abu Dhabi, but he did not mention (it). He only spoke about the diversity of religions and the permissive will of God.
But at least he did this, and, for this, I am grateful to him.
But, I repeat, it was, to my opinion, not sufficient. It could be explained more clearly.
Moynihan: Well, thank you for that description of your meeting with the Pope, and your request for a very specific clarification.
Bishop Schneider: I want to add that, after this, the Holy Father was so kind, and he sent me a personal card, he was writing to me in Italian, Caro Fratello [“Dear Brother”], and so on, asking me to pray for him, and he put as an attachment in his letter a photocopy of his speech of this General Audience from April 3rd, and there, the word, in this photocopy, the words “permissive will of God” were underlined.
Moynihan: In his own hand…
Bishop Schneider: And so, at least, he sent me personally the photocopy of this speech, and with a nice card.
Bishop Schneider argues that his call for greater clarity from Pope Francis is an act of charity.
Robert Moynihan: Well, for the past few years, there have been many bishops, and many lay people who have said Pope Francis is not being clear enough, that he has allowed a certain confusion, that he says one thing and then he says another thing, but he allows, somehow, this to percolate, without clarifying.
Is this a general concern you have, about how he has conducted himself?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Of course. This is evident.
Continuously, unfortunately, Pope Francis is doing affirmations, orally or in written form, in his texts.
There are really many things which are not clear, and which people cannot understand and in some way undermine the clarity of the permanent, unchanging divine truth.
And the Apostles always preached in a clear manner. And St. Paul said, “I did not speak to you in an unclear manner.”
And he compared this, “We did not preach the Gospel as someone who does not know where to run.”
Or, “We did not preach the Gospel and fight with someone who does not know how to fight.”
This is a similar expression in one of the letters of St. Paul.
And all Popes, all the Fathers of the Church, always said, “This is the task of the Magisterium, to propose, to expound, to explain in a most clear form the Word of God. That there would not be left any doubts or ambiguity for the faithful.”
So, the Pope and the bishops are shepherds to give good pasture and nourishment for the sheep and to guide them to the waters that are clear, not to the poisoned waters or to waters which are not clear.
This is the shepherd and he seeks very good grass, not ambiguous grass, for the sheep.
And so, the teaching has to be clear.
It is a medicine.
From the clear teaching depends, also, the eternal salvation, and can mislead people.
And so, this is very important for the Pope and for the bishops.
This is their first task, to teach, but to teach clearly, and this is the greatest act of charity, to transmit the eternal truth, which is so beautiful, which gives life, which gives eternal life to the people.
Moynihan: Well, you have spoken about the need for clarity in teaching, and you’ve called this an act of charity for the people who are hungry, for clarity in a society that is relativistic, and where there is a great deal of political correctness, and where people think the teaching of the Catholic Church is changing, or can change.
But why do so few bishops seem to join with you in expressing these concerns about relativism, or the marginalization of Christ — therefore they accept this type of ecumenism without real clear guidelines — or also even about the suppression of the old Latin Mass.
Why are you seemingly alone, or almost alone, among the thousands of Catholic bishops in pointing out the necessity for more clarity as an act of charity?
Bishop Schneider: Yes, this is a difficult question, but of course there are bishops who also think the same and wish (for) clarity.
Moynihan: Can you give examples?
Bishop Schneider: Well, we know bishops and cardinals, let us say the four cardinals, the “Dubia” cardinals.
Moynihan: That was Cardinal (Joachim) Meisner [died in 2017 at the age of 83, born in Breslau, Prussia, German Reich on December 25, 1933, became archbishop of Cologne, Germany], who has died…
Bishop Schneider: And Cardinal Caffarra [1938-2017, died at the age of 79, of Bologna, Italy] died, and now Cardinal Burke [73, of Richland Center, Wisconsin, USA] and Cardinal Brandmüller [92, of Germany, now living in retirement in Vatican City] publicly, then, Cardinal Sarah [76, of Guinea, West Africa, now living in Rome] several times expressed himself clearly and…
Well, but there are others who also wish the same, but for several reasons they do not speak out publicly.
For several reasons or for personal reasons or for political, Church-political reasons. I do not know.
Every bishop has to give (an) account in the divine tribunal what he did with his episcopate.
And so, I cannot judge my brothers.
Unfortunately, there are few.
In difficult times, there were not so much in the majority.
It is a sign of the history that always in times of crisis, they were a minority.
But, (at) the same time, what is giving me hope and joy also that there are ever more increasing number of simple faithful, of really simple faithful of all ages, fathers of the family, mothers of family, young people, students, young priests, who speak clearly and explain the faith of all times in a clear manner and teaching them to their children and propagating the faith.
And also, in the internet sphere, there are many occasions and publications, from lay people and this gives me joy and hope that God is using the simple ones in the Church in difficult times to maintain and transmit the purity and the clarity of the faith.
In which Bishop Schneider speaks about a coming time of peace.
Robert Moynihan: Many people, nevertheless, are quite concerned about the global situation, about looming restrictions, totalitarianism.
In Italy, there have been dock workers in Trieste striking against the requirement to receive the vaccination.
There are many people who feel these times are so confused, and so dangerous, that they speak about the end of the world.
And you said, in Christus Vincit, “In his inaugural encyclical E Supremi, St. Pius X” — so he was Pope in the first years of the 1900s, so 110, 120 years ago — “he remarked that, so serious was the gathering storm of error at the beginning of the 20th century — relativism, modernism — that he would not be surprised to hear that the Antichrist was already on this earth.”
Where do you think we are, more than 100 years later?
Do you believe the Antichrist is here?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Well, we are stating evermore the phenomenon which Pope Pius X described over one hundred years ago are increased evermore, the relativism, the fight against God, against his laws.
And so, the signs of the end times are more clear now in our time.
But, nevertheless, it is not up to us to know the time, as Jesus Christ told to the apostles in the Acts of the Apostles, “It is not upon you to know the times.”
We have to be always vigilant and ready for the coming of the Lord. And, even though we can observe really signs of a kind of pre-annunciation of some clear signs of the end times, nevertheless, we don’t know how long this can last, and we don’t know if God will concede to humanity and the Church again a time of true flourishing, spiritual renewal.
And I believe that God can, maybe, will grant to humanity and to the Church a time of really spiritual renewal, and to the Church also.
Or, as Our Lady of Fatima said, “At the end,” — at the end, maybe at the end times — “my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
It could be that this time of a new renewal and the true splendour of the Church and a peaceful and life of the civil society and dignity will be granted by God because Our Lady of Fatima said that the Pope should consecrate Russia to “my Immaculate Heart.”
Moynihan: I was just going to ask you…
Bishop Schneider: Yes, and then she added, “and Russia will convert, but after the consecration.” So we have to follow her words. So the exact sense of the words. The consecration to Russia. Then she speaks about the conversion of Russia.
And then she speaks, “and then God will grant to humanity a time of peace.” And I think we can believe that God will still grant us, humanity, a time of peace…
In which Bishop Schneider speaks of the prophecy of Fatima
Robert Moynihan: Well, two issues emerge there.
First is the consecration, and second is Russia.
People believe that there was an attempt to consecrate Russia many times, even by Pius XII, then again by, particularly, the great moment in 1984 by John Paul II, but then even an affidamento again in the year 2000 — I was present that day — the “entrustment”, not the consecration.
But then people say none of these were precisely naming Russia. So there’s a great debate in Catholic circles: did John Paul carry out the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart when he said, “I consecrate the whole world,” or still has the consecration not been made, and you think it should be made?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Well, we have to simply read the text of his consecration, from ‘84, and there he did not — he does not mention Russia explicitly.
And so, at least we can say he did the consecration in an imperfect form, evidently imperfect.
It was not perfect.
It would be perfect when he would name Russia.
And so, Cardinal Cordes, four years ago, he was in Kazakhstan as a papal legate for the Marian Congress in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Fatima in Karaganda.
And I was present.
And during the homily, the cardinal stated the following which I now quote.
He told that sometime after the consecration of ‘84, he was invited by John Paul II to go to his private dinner in the papal apartment.
And during this dinner, Cardinal Cordes asked the Holy Father, “Holy Father, why did you not mention Russia explicitly in the form of the consecration?”
And the Pope answered him, “This was my intention. But those responsible for diplomacy in the Vatican said not to do this because of some dangerous tensions with the powers in the Soviet Union because of political reasons.”
So, this answered the Pope.
Even so, Sister Lucia reportedly said that heaven accepted this.
Of course, it was a beautiful prayer.
Why should heaven not accept a beautiful prayer?
But, it does not mean…
Moynihan: Do you think Sister Lucy can be regarded as a valid witness of such questions?
She was quite old already at that time.
Bishop Schneider: Yes, but I repeat.
Even if she said (so), it does not mean that Sister Lucia meant or was thinking this was the perfect form.
She simply stated, “Yes, heaven accepted.”
And I think that an explicit mention of Russia should still be done and then heaven will accept this with more joy.
Moynihan: Well, I have two questions.
One, there is an old belief that — right now it’s slipping my mind — that the Pope will consecrate Russia, but “He will do it late.”
He will delay, he will do it late, he will be old.
It will be almost beyond hope.
Finally, he will do it.
Could Pope Francis do it?
Could Pope Emeritus Benedict do it, in this more perfect way that you are referring to?
And would you encourage one or both of them to do it?
Bishop Schneider: Well, Pope Benedict cannot do it, he is not more [no longer] Pope.
It is clear.
They have to be very clear.
Who can do it is the current Pope Francis, the only current pope, or one of his successors.
We do not know.
It decides, God’s providence. I wish very much of course.
And we pray for them.
And I believe that a time will come when God will inspire, illuminate the successor of Peter to do this.
Moynihan: Ok, then the second concern I would have, not about who would make the consecration, but who would receive it, in a sense, obviously God, the Virgin Mary, but the Russians.
The Russians are the object of this.
You live in Kazakhstan.
That was a part of the Soviet Union; now it’s a separate country.
It was a province, as it were, a republic of the Soviet Union.
You speak Russian.
You have Russian friends.
You know the Russian mind, to some degree, and the Russian soul.
Can you help us understand better, this mind and soul?
Is it possible that Russia, which was atheist for 70 years, can experience a conversion, a religious revival?
Is it happening now?
And can they receive, with gratitude, a gesture from the Pope and the Catholic bishops that would consecrate them?
Or would that somehow be politically, diplomatically or culturally unacceptable to them?
Bishop Schneider: I think that today the political situation is different from the Communist time.
So, today I think that even the government of Russia, in my opinion, would consider such a gesture as positive because in some way Russia is valorized [given value] among all, they have value.
When you mention Russia explicitly, only Russia, for example, it is obvious for a politician that it is in some way profitable for the reputation of his country, simply, pragmatical thought.
And therefore I cannot imagine that the Russian government would be against the contrary, I think.
Then the Orthodox Church I think should also be happy because the Russian Orthodox Church is one of the most Marian Christian churches in the world, because they have every day a special title of an icon, which they venerate, of Our Lady.
And so, a profoundly Marian church, the Russian Orthodox Church (is).
And therefore, if the first bishop in the world, this is the successor of Peter, and recognize, even though they are not canonically ready to be in communion with the Holy See, but the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes that the Pope is the successor of Peter and that he is the first See, apostolic See, in the Christian world.
And, therefore, when he will entrust or consecrate Russia, and the Russian church, to the care of Our Lady, of the Mother of God, of her Immaculate Heart, I think they should be happy because this is a prayer, even when we are not yet canonically united, we can say to one another, “Please pray for me.”
I have a lot of Orthodox friends, and they say, “Pray for me as I pray for you.”
This we can do.
And when the Pope, the first bishop in the world in apostolic succession, prays — this is a prayer, the consecration is a prayer — prays, officially solemnly for Russia to Our Lady, it should be, it is intrinsically a positive act and even so, should be considered without any prejudices, an act of charity, fraternal charity towards their church.
So, they should consider this in this way.
And I hope it could be explained to them before the consecration should take place in the future these aspects to the government and to the Patriarchate, and even why not to invite representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church to be present to this act of the solemn consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Moynihan: Well, then, even these words you have spoken could in some way prepare, perhaps, for this better understanding of the meaning of the gesture.
There might be one impediment: the Greek Catholic Churches.
Could they be opposed to a consecration of Russia?
Bishop Schneider: No. They would never be opposed.
I know this for sure.
Why would they be opposed?
This is the request of Our Lady of Fatima.
They are Catholics.
In which Bishop Schneider speaks about his faith and his relationship to Jesus Christ.
Robert Moynihan: I have one last question, and I thank you so much for your time.
But I want to go to the most spiritual and deep level: your faith.
Can you tell us what Jesus means to you?
What is your relationship with Jesus Christ?
What is important about Jesus?
And why is he so important to you and to the world?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Jesus is — I take the words of St. Thomas the Apostle, “my God and my Lord.”
There cannot be more beautiful words than these, “My Lord and my God.”
And the other phrase of St. Paul, “Omnia in omnibus Christus.”
It means, translated, “Christ shall be all for me in every aspect.”
So, He will be All for me, my God and my All, is Jesus Christ.
He is the Incarnate God.
And we have to… Jesus is my God and my Lord, my Saviour, my All.
This is the foundation of all my life, and my faith, my work, the sufferings and this is my desire to see Him in heaven, the whole Trinity and the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, my Saviour, whom I now see with my faith in the Holy Eucharist, primarily.
And so, for me, Jesus Christ is here on this earth for my spiritual life, primarily, the Eucharistic Christ, but because here I find my God, my own God, my own Lord, my own Saviour incarnated concretely in the Holy Eucharist.
And therefore, the Eucharistic Christ is the center of my life, my spiritual life and my faith.
Because every time when I come to church to see the Holy Host during the Holy Mass, during adoration, it is a continuous invitation to believe, because I do not see Him in His glory, but I believe He is here surely, substantially, really.
And it is a continuous exercise of my faith and of my love.
And so, my motto, also of St. Peter Julian Eymard, a great Eucharistic saint, St. Peter Julian Eymard said, “Adveniat regnum tuum eucharisticum.”
“May thy Eucharistic reign come and reign.”
And (through) this our own lives will be restored and sustained, maintained, most vigorously through the Eucharist.
So our Eucharistic life and the entire Church can only be renewed and invigorated through renewal of the liturgical and Eucharistic life.
Moynihan: Your Excellency, I appreciate, very much, everything you have said.
Thank you and best wishes for your travels.
Now you are preparing to go back to Kazakhstan, and for all your future labors.
Bishop Schneider: Thank you, dear Mr. Moynihan, for your work also, which you are doing.
You are making a contribution in these times to the Catholic faith, as thanks for the Catholic faith, as a lay man.
And this we can do together, and this is also my joy and my gratitude to you.
Moynihan: Thank you.