Above, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, 60, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana in Khazakhstan in central Asia, formerly one of the republics making up the Soviet Union. (link to his own website).
Schneider is one of the more tradition-minded members of the Church’s episcopate, known for championing the pre-Vatican II liturgical traditions and practices of the Church. (link and link).
Born to a family of German origin in Kyrgyzstan, then part of the Soviet Union, Schneider experienced the Soviet persecution of the Church as a child. He was able to leave the East bloc at age 12, completing his education in West Germany. Thus, his intellectual biography has two strands: “Soviet” and “German.”
Schneider has just given an interview in Austria to American film-maker James Henry (a descendant of Patrick Henry, the American colonial patriot known for declaring “Give me liberty, or give me death”), as part of a series of interviews under the general title of “Planet Lockdown” (link)
Letter #36, Sunday, June 20, 2021: Bishop Schneider on the Current Crisis
Athanasius Schneider was born on April 7, 1961, in Tokmok, Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR), in the Soviet Union. His parents were Black Sea Germans from Odessa in Ukraine.
After the Second World War (1939-1945), they were all sent by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to a gulag in Krasnokamsk in the Ural Mountains, where the family was closely involved with the underground Church. Schneider’s mother Maria was one of several women to shelter the Blessed Oleksa Zaryckyj, a Ukrainian priest later imprisoned at the infamous Karlag and in 1963 martyred by the Soviet regime for his ministry.
The family traveled to the Kirghiz SSR after being released from the camps, then left Central Asia for Estonia.
As a boy, Schneider and his three siblings would attend clandestine Masses with their parents, often traveling 60 miles from the family’s home in Valga to Tartu, taking the first train in the morning under the cover of darkness and returning with the last train at night. Due to the great distance, infrequent visits by the clergy, and crackdowns by the Soviet authorities, they were able to make the trip only once a month.
In 1973, at the age of 12, shortly after making his first Holy Communion in secret, Schneider emigrated with his family to Rottweil in West Germany.
In 1982 in Austria, at the age of 21, Schneider joined the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross of Coimbra, a Roman Catholic religious order within the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum (“Work of the Holy Angels”). He was ordained a priest at the age of 28 by Bishop Manuel Pestana Filho of Anápolis, Brazil, on 25 March 1990, and spent several years as a priest in Brazil before returning to Central Asia.
Starting in 1999, he taught Patristics at Mary, Mother of the Church Seminary in Karaganda.
On June 2, 2006, he was named a bishop by Pope Benedict XVI and consecrated a bishop at the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter in the Vatican by Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
In 2011 he was transferred to the position of auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Astana. He is the General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Kazakhstan.
Schneider speaks German, Russian, Portuguese (from his years in Brazil), Spanish, English, French and Italian, and he reads Latin and Ancient Greek.
I have met and spoken with Schneider, a quiet, thoughtful, committed man, on a number of occasions, including in the Domus Santa Marta when we were both guests there, and he has just written an article for the upcoming issue of Inside the Vatican magazine. (To subscribe — which would be very much appreciated — click here.)
A marvelous, very profound interview book by Diane Montagna with Bishop Schneider entitled Christus Vincit (“Christ Conquers”): Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age is available here.
The Latest Bishop Schneider Interview
In this interesting interview, given in Austria in recent days, Schneider makes two inter-related points worth highlighting:
1) that all of the various injections that have been proposed as “vaccinations” against the Coronavirus have used cells from aborted fetuses, either in their creation or in their testing. Schneider argues that, if this is the case, the injections are morally unacceptable. So two issues seem to require clarity and transparency: a) are the injections created, or tested, using aborted fetal cells? and b) if yes, is it in keeping with Catholic moral teaching to receive such injections, or is it immoral to use the cells of aborted babies even if the stated goal is to prevent harm to those who receive the aborted human fetus-derived injections?
2) that there has been a widespread disinclination on the part of global leaders and opinion-makers to entrust the various disputed questions about aspects of the Coronavirus crisis — from its origin to its harmfulness, from its treatment to its prevention — to a panel or committee of objective scientists, scholars, moral theologians, and thoughtful, wise men and women in general, to ensure that all the evidence is examined and weighed carefully, enabling humanity to face the crisis with the confidence that motives of political, economic, national or personal advantage have not in some way or other caused a “rush to judgment” (and “rush to vaccinate”) which may turn out to be harmful to many. In this regard, Schneider observes that the way a political and media consensus has been arrived at, and the way any viewpoints not echoing that consensus have been mocked, vilified and silenced, reminds him of the way the Communist Party functioned in the Soviet Union when he was a child.
Here is a link to this important interview with Bishop Schneider (link).
And here is my rough transcription of the interview:
James Henry: What did you think of the global lockdown which started in March of 2020?
Bishop Schneider: It was evidently an exaggeration and out of proportions. It was like a program, and orchestrated action which was always in the same way all over the world. So it left some suspicion that there had been some orchestrated actions for a certain aim. So this lockdown had not only, in my opinion, a concrete medical aim but also another one: to create a psychological state of panic and fear in people, and so this was also a kind of intimidation of people which, I repeat, was out of proportion. There could have been safety measures for sanitary purposes, but in a reasonable way, but not with such drastic and in some way tyrannical methods. And these methods of tyranny, which were applied in some places, out of proportion, should cause in us to have to think about this, and reflect, and analyze this.
James Henry: Do you think these measures had a sinister purpose?
Bishop Schneider: Sinister purpose? I do not know concretely, but surely there was a kind of political purpose to use this situation of the Covid virus, this sickness which is of course present, this virus which attacks the health, but not in such an exaggerated presentation as has been presented to us every day, and also it continues, a kind of brainwashing methods in the mass media, and by the governments, this also creates suspicion. Why do they do this? This is not only for the safe health of people, but there must be another aim, a kind political aim to create new structures and systems of social life, probably of more control over every one of us. So a society of total control. And when there is a society of total control of individuals, this is very close to a society of slaves, where there is a small elite group that controls the rest. This impression is left now after this year of these experiences of lockdowns and other measures, with the evermore necessity to be vaccinated, therefore one can believe that there is the aim of creating a new social system, or order.
James Henry: How do you see this? Is it something you see as against God’s will for the social order? Is it immoral?
Bishop Schneider: Of course it’s immoral to have a total control of people. Because we are created also as persons, personalities. We have also a right of privacy, not to be controlled completely. And when you have no privacy, you are a slave. Slaves have no privacy. And this is against the dignity of the human person as a person, a personality. And we have freedom. Of course, freedom has limits in society, sure, and therefore there are laws and orders, but not to that extent, to have a total control even to the private sphere. And of course there are people who are evildoers, and terrorists. They have to be controlled, even in their private sphere. I mean evildoers, criminals, they should be prevented from doing harm to the population. But when the entire population is submitted to a total control, in some way we are all treated like dangerous persons who have to be controlled. This is against the dignity of human beings created by God.
James Henry: What is the position of the Church on the vaccinations?
Bishop Schneider: Yes, I am convinced that the vaccinations which have been produced by using cell lines from an abortion, from the assassination of an innocent child, or to be tested, this is intrinsically an evil. And a Christian cannot in any way, with no exception can you legitimize the use of this medicine or this vaccine. Since you know this, with full knowledge and with full freedom, you cannot do this, because in this way you are collaborating in a proximate way, not a remote way, in a proximate way with the horrible fetal industry, which is every day growing now. And there are two phenomena which we have to distinguish. One is the killing of the innocent baby, it is horrible, the abortion itself. And then the other, horrible phenomenon, the abuse of their body parts themselves in the biomedical research and industry which is now expanding. And so we are putting ourselves close to this horrible, cruel industry, abusing the weakest ones in our society, the unborn, and their body parts. And therefore we can never, there is no exception, we cannot use the abortion-tainted vaccines or medicines, from the moment that we have sure knowledge about this.
James Henry: To your knowledge, are a lot of the vaccinations using fetal tissues?
Bishop Schneider: At least those anti-Covid vaccines that are now propagated and admitted, like Astra-Zeneca, Johnson and Johnson, they, the pharmaceutical company itself, admits it, so, they themselves admit it. And even Pfizer, Moderna say that they tested, used aborted cells in the testing process. So they admit this. So there are no other anti-Covid vaccines that would be free from any connection to a cruelty, to abortion. So they have to have true, 100 percent cruelty-free vaccinations.
We have to be absolutely against the cruelty done to unborn children, and then the unworthy and degrading manner of using their body parts. This is a horrible thing. And we have to always to protest against this. When we admit an exception, in exceptional cases, then our protest is not credible and is weakening all our protest against this horrible industry, and it will be ineffective, de facto.
James Henry: About your background: were you deported to Kazakhstan?
(Bishop Schneider speaks of the history of his family.)
James Henry: Do you seem any similarities to the Communist period with what is happening now?
Bishop Schneider: Yes, I am seeing similarities. First, because there is no more opposition. There is only one view, in the politics, in all the public opinion, the official I mean, there is only one opinion admitted. Concretely now, in the Covid situation, there is not admitted another voice. This is already very dangerous. And the same with the gender ideology, in which as we know it is not possible to have another opinion and position.
And this is to me very similar to the Soviet time through which I lived. There was only one position admitted. And when you had another position, you were declared as an enemy, or as a spy, or as a conspiracy theorist. This was said in the Soviet time. When you had another opinion, you were declared as a conspiracy group, “You have a conspiracy theory. “And they said, “You have hate speech.” This expression “hate speech,” this came from the Communists. They said, “You are hating the Soviet system, you are hating the Soviet people.” Because you are against Communism. And so they are very close, these expressions today.
And then, the continuing brainwashing in the social media, in the official state-run or social media, mainstream media, the same brainwashing from morning to evening, always, every hour.
The Communists did some informations about Communism, about the beautiful life of the new Communist style, and so on, in the same way we are now experiencing, for almost more than one year, we are brainwashed from morning to evening with the so-called Covid news, which are not real, we cannot prove them, we cannot examine them, in an objective (way), there is no objective committee, no scientific, no social (committee), to examine all this data we are receiving.
And now we have, the entire population of the world has, the sign of the admission to this system: the mask. It’s a visible sign to which we have submitted. Even if so many scientists, doctors and people of common sense say that in so many cases the masks are really useless and against any meaning. But it is continuing, because the new social global system wants to have a concrete exterior sign of submission. And this expression of the continuous emergency situation which they created and even expanded. So I hope there will rise up people with common sense from diverse parts of the society, of good will, to resist the new forms of dictatorship in the Western world, to… that our society will receive again a worthy way of life, which really corresponds to the dignity of the human person created in the image and the likeness of God.
This society should be renewed, and I am convinced it can be only renewed with Christ, the only king of humanity, the only savior, and with the commandments of God, which only lead humanity to happiness and peace.
[End, Interview with Bishop Schneider]