Bishop Athanasius Schneider, 60. The bishop on June 25 in Paris gave a wide-ranging interview which was published on July 21 (full text below). It is worth reading.
“I think that, with respect, the faithful have the duty to demand this from the hierarchy; the faithful have the right to a clear, integral doctrine. And if the priest, the bishop, or the Pope does not give them a clear doctrine, they should say: we have the right, give us this, please, we are hungry for doctrine, will you leave us without food, without bread? This is a fundamental demand of the faithful. I repeat, with respect.” —Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in an interview published five days ago, on Wednesday, July 21, on Lifesitenews (full text below)
“If the Lord is with us, who is against us? Even if the apocalyptic time comes, the Lord will always be with us… He has remained with us especially in the Eucharist… and even if we have to enter the time of the catacombs again, perhaps, like the first Christians, as I had the privilege of living also in the catacombs during my childhood under the Soviet Union… Divine Goodness will always give us all the strength we need to face these difficult, even almost apocalyptic times.” —Bishop Schneider, in the same interview
“I think now we have the confrontation of a Church against a Church within, in the midst of the life of the Church.” —Bishop Schneider, in the same interview
Letter #68, 2021, Monday, July 26: With Respect
Bishop Schneider addresses clampdown on Traditional Latin Mass
The Pope has the fundamental task of confirming all the faithful and the bishops in the faith. And if the Pope does not do this, we must help him, starting with us bishops, to make clarity, with respectful words.
Wednesday, July 21, 2021 – 6:35 pm EST
By Jeanne Smits, Lifesitenews, Paris correspondent
July 21, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Even before the publication of Traditionis Custodes… Archbishop Athanasius Schneider addressed the question of the foreseeable restrictions on the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, which Benedict XVI had affirmed in Summorum Pontificum, in a conference organized in Paris on June 25 by the traditional lay association “Renaissance catholique.”
The abolition of the 2007 Motu Proprio (…) seeks, in its spirit, to have the unconditional supporters of the traditional liturgy traced, tested, marked, and isolated out of sight of the people of God so that there will be no more contact between the “trads” and the beneficiaries of the Mass of Paul VI within the dioceses in order to preserve the faithful of the “only” lex orandi of the Catholic Church of Roman Rite from contamination, and it clearly expresses its desire to eradicate the Tridentine virus.
Bishop Schneider, the courageous auxiliary bishop of St. Mary in Astana, declared that these new measures were to be anticipated (…). He said, “The faithful as well as priests have the right to a liturgy that is a liturgy of all the saints (…). Therefore, the Holy See does not have the power to suppress a heritage of the whole Church (…)
“Renaissance catholique,” editor of the French edition of Bishop Schneider’s Christus Vincit, published a statement on Tuesday about the… decision by Pope Francis under the title “The Pope of Exclusion.”
Here below is the complete transcript of Bishop Schneider’s conference (except for the first minutes of his introductory remarks). The first few paragraphs are part of this brief introduction, followed by a question-and-answer session I was asked to conduct, and finally the questions from the audience and Bishop Schneider’s responses.
Among the topics addressed by Bishop Schneider were the right to uphold the Traditional Latin Mass, the attitude we should adopt when it is becoming so hard to believe that the Catholic Church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic,” and the temptation of sedevacantism and the temptation of stepping out of the Church to choose orthodoxy.
Bishop Schneider gave his talk in French. The English translation offered here has not been revised by His Excellency.
Conference of Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Paris, June 25, 2021
by Bishop Athanasius Schneider
The structures of evil dominate our time in an almost apocalyptic dimension on a global level. Particularly noteworthy is the state of internal crisis in the Church, which no honest person can deny, because it is already too obvious. Think of these precise observations, which are well known and in which Pope Paul VI honestly described the state of spiritual health of the Church in our time; they remain of great relevance. I quote Paul VI: “It was believed that after the Council the sun would shine on the history of the Church. But instead there came a day of clouds, storms, darkness, searching and uncertainty.” … These are the words of Paul VI. There is no spring. And the Pope added this bold phrase: “The smoke of Satan has entered the Temple of God.”
These words were pronounced on June 29, 1972. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, speaking at the 1976 Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, U.S.A., said, “We are now faced with the greatest historical opposition that humanity has ever known. I don’t think that American society as a whole or the Christian community as a whole is fully aware of this. We are now faced with the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, between the Gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the Antichrist. This confrontation is part of the plan of Divine Providence. Therefore, it is part of God’s plan and it is a trial that the Church must accept and face with courage.”
These are the words of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, two years before his papal election. God from all eternity, in His wise and loving plan, has chosen this important but extremely difficult time for us, in which we live, and God wants to reward us with His eternal love. We want to say from the bottom of our hearts to the Lord in these difficult times: “Lord, everything is for you, all my sufferings, all my humiliations, all my tears, all my works, all my love … Everything is for you. Non nobis, Domine, non nobis. Not to us, not to us, Lord, but to your name give glory.”
Jeanne Smits, Paris Correspondent: Excellency, I am very moved to be here with you. We had frequent exchanges by e-mail during the work of translation of your book Christus Vincit that I carried out, where you checked and paid attention to the precise meaning of every word, since you have a very good command of French. Before I begin this conversation, I would like to pay tribute to Diane Montagna, who carried out this book-length interview with Bishop Schneider, in English. She is an American fellow journalist based in Rome. In this book, she really pushed Bishop Schneider to the edge. She really asked all the questions, she dug deep, she came back to her questions, she didn’t avoid any difficult subject and I think Bishop Schneider didn’t avoid any controversial subject either. You speak of Freemasonry, which is quite classic, as well as of Islam or of the Society of Saint Pius X, and so we have an overall vision of the Church which is very lucid and at the same time, as you have just shown, full of hope. The first question I wanted to ask you concerns the main thread of the book, the quotation from Saint Matthew (XXIV, 29): “The sun shall be darkened, the moon shall no longer give her light, and the stars shall fall from Heaven.” Obviously this scares us, I won’t conceal that! I wonder if the Apocalypse is actually going to fall on our heads in the near future. And secondly, you have just quoted Cardinal Wojtyla who said in Philadelphia that the Church must respond, must face up to the ordeal with courage, but there are many of us who wonder where the Church’s courage is today. How is it possible that we are in such bad times, when at the same time, as you said, sensible people see what is going on. Can you go into this reflection a little more deeply?
Bishop Schneider: A person who believes, who has faith, should never be afraid. Our faith should be strong, convincing. Faith is the gift of God, the divine life of our soul. If the Lord is with us, who is against us? Even if the apocalyptic time comes, the Lord will always be with us, we have the Lord, in the faith of our heart. He said, “I am with you until the end of the world.” He has remained with us especially in the Eucharist, in the tabernacle, in Holy Communion, and even if we have to enter the time of the catacombs again, perhaps, like the first Christians, as I had the privilege of living also in the catacombs during my childhood under the Soviet Union, this time will always be a time of abundant graces. And if Divine Providence grants us these graces, these trials, Divine Providence, Divine Goodness will always give us all the strength we need to face these difficult, even almost apocalyptic times. This is the first thing.
Regarding what Cardinal Karol Wojtyla said about the Church today having to face with courage the confrontation of the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel, perhaps Cardinal Wojtyla thought in 1976 that this confrontation would be between the Church and the enemies of the Church, who are outside the Church. But I think now we have the confrontation of a Church against a Church within, in the midst of the life of the Church.
We have already seen this phenomenon in the past years, when we saw virtually the introduction of divorce in the Church through the text Amoris Laetitia, which is very ambiguous. So it’s an anti-gospel; it’s against what Jesus said about marriage.
And then there are the forms of relativism that we have seen … There are very serious signs of the acceptance of idols, even in the Vatican during the Amazon synod, these signs showing that it was not the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus Christ would never have accepted to worship an idol. The apostles of “Mother Earth” – they were called by another name – collaborated with the whole abortion industry, with the fetus industry, and with close collaboration. So these are just a few examples where we can see the confrontation that Cardinal Wojtyla was already talking about, but now we are in the middle of this confrontation.
At the same time, we must always have the certainty of Christ’s victory, and for this reason in the book Christus Vincit, the main theme is always the victory of Christ and of the Catholic faith.
J.S.: I would like to come back to one of your expressions: you spoke of the “privilege” of the catacombs, you spoke of the “gift” of this trial that the Church is going through, and I would like to say to you, perhaps in the name of those who are listening to us this evening: we are all the same in confusion, we are in a form of incomprehension in front of what is happening, we feel to a certain extent that we have a responsibility to fight this, but we also see that never have Catholics, in their majority, been so poorly instructed in their faith. So how is it possible that this trial is coming to us now, when there is such unpreparedness within the Church, and what should we do about it?
Bishop Schneider: This situation has been prepared for decades, it did not just happen yesterday. It is a process of already 50 years, from the time of the Council, when the tendency of the leaders of the Church was rather to take care of temporal, corporal things, and not the primacy of eternal things, of the truth. And so there was as a consequence in the catechesis, in the formation of the priests, in the seminaries, a fundamental defect and a lack of the fundamental doctrine, of the doctrine of the faith. In the seminaries, in catechism, in the schools, dialogue was promoted: the relativist mentality according to which all religions are on the same level and go together towards God by different ways.
But this is false, it is against the Gospel! It is a denial of the Gospel, if we say that all religions are almost on the same level. And so you are right, since these decades have had the effect of spreading a very deep ignorance in Catholic circles and among priests.
But at the same time we can see now the thirst of young people for truth, clarity, certainty, this need of our heart. It is a need that God has given us: the certainty of truth, and this desire for certainty. And now we can see in young people the desire to have integrity, the fullness also of divine worship, of the Holy Mass, of life and doctrine.
For this reason, I can see a sign of hope, however small, that we must encourage and transmit. I think it is a fundamental task to teach a clear catechism that is 100 percent Catholic. Take the old catechisms, please; teach the children, the youth, and even us, the adults. Why not take a children’s catechism and repeat the eternal truths? I consider the transmission of the doctrine of faith a very important task.
J.S.: We are in a way invited, called to make up for the shortcomings of authority. In your book you show that this situation is not entirely new. How can we justify saying that such and such a bishop, my bishop, my parish priest, may be teaching false things, is an admirer of the Pachamama … Do we have the right, the duty to react, and how can we justify that in a hierarchical society like the Church?
Bishop Schneider: Of course we have this right, because the Church is not a dictatorship. The Church is a family, which is indeed hierarchical. And the father, the fatherhood, the children, are also spiritual. And in a family there is also the care for the common, spiritual good of the Church; this care also concerns the faithful, because if the shepherd begins to give the sheep bad things, they should demand please to be given the true things, for nourishment. Because this is your task, these are the duties that God has given you: you must give us the divine food, not your new and ideological ideas.
And for this reason, I think that, with respect, the faithful have the duty to demand this from the hierarchy; the faithful have the right to a clear, integral doctrine. And if the priest, the bishop, or the pope does not give them a clear doctrine, they should say: we have the right, give us this, please, we are hungry for doctrine, will you leave us without food, without bread? This is a fundamental demand of the faithful. I repeat, with respect. This is part of the hierarchical structure, because the Church is not a human organization, a political party, a political dictatorship, where everyone is afraid of the leader. No, we are a family. And in a family we can ask for our right too, with respect. This is not a contract; this is what the exceptional situation requires, this situation where the faithful should make admonitions or in some way complaints to the hierarchy so that it gives a clear doctrine and a dignified liturgy.
This exceptional situation is rare in the history of the Church, but there was already one in the 4th century with the Arian crisis, and now we are witnessing a similar situation.
But this situation is only temporary. You also have the privilege, in a very difficult situation, of testifying to your fidelity, to your baptismal faith and to the faith of your ancestors, the faith of the saints whom you know, of testifying to this faith even before leaders of the hierarchy who have perhaps partially lost the faith, to help, to remind the shepherds that it is necessary to return to the purity of the faith. Therefore you do a great meritorious work before God when you faithfully keep your faith, even in the face of this sad situation, when part of the hierarchy is starting to deny the faith.
J.S.: The next phases in the Church, or at least what is being organized in Rome, aim at an ever greater synodality. This includes giving a voice to the faithful, which is not without paradox after what you have just said. In your book, you have very harsh words for the current organization of the Church, where episcopal meetings, synods, follow one another, often very expensive because their organization is costly, and where we end up with declarations that nobody reads. I would like to ask you: do you think that we have reached a kind of desire for democracy in the Church, but to the exclusion of those who want the truth?
Bishop Schneider: Yes, exactly. The Church is a democracy of saints. So we must consult the saints who lived before us, the holy Doctors of the Church, the holy Fathers of the Church, and let the voice of the Church of all time speak.
The purpose of a synod is to strengthen the faith, to clarify the faith, the discipline of the Church, and sanctity of life. That is the purpose of a synod.
A good synod would be one in which the Pope invites the faithful of “Renaissance catholique,” of the Society of St. Pius X, of the Ecclesia Dei communities, of the laity, to make proposals asking to return to the faith and liturgy and the moral life of all times. This would be a good synod.
But it seems that the communities and people of your spirit, the spirit of “Renaissance catholique,” will not have a voice in this synod. But you have a voice before God. That is better. That is more effective. And you have the means: your prayer, your sacrifices and your silent apostolate, where you live, and the priests, where they work.
I have the impression that this method of the synodal way is the means to further Protestantize the life of the Church, and to make the opinion of the Church more relativistic, unclear, that is to say, to increase the confusion, the state of uncertainty. We must pray that God, that divine intervention helps us, that this synod, which should take place in 2023, does not take place, perhaps by a divine intervention, because the Church is in the hands of God.
J.S.: I think you have already partly answered the question I was going to ask you, but I’ll ask it anyway: sometimes we are tempted to ask ourselves how we can still have faith in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church in the current situation. I was talking recently with a friend who has suffered through the Church and who told me she was re-reading St. Catherine of Siena and all the beautiful things she said about the Church: it is one and holy, but also “the leprous bride of Christ.” How can we reconcile this one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church, which we love and which we must love, with what we see before our eyes? What practical advice would you give to preserve and strengthen our faith?
Bishop Schneider: The Church is also a mystery. Mysterium: mystery, supernatural. And at the same time it is a human society. It is a special, unique organization, which is divine and human.
And sometimes in this body of the Church evil increases even among the representatives of the hierarchy, and good is diminished, and truth, and holiness — as in the Gospel, where Our Lord spoke of those fields where there are both good grain and tares.
So there is always a mixture in the Church. This mystery of the mixture, of evil and good, will remain until the end of the world. Sometimes the evil is more abundant, sometimes less.
Now we live in a situation where it seems that the weeds dominate and the good seed is very much reduced. But it exists, it has not disappeared. It exists, but diminished. It is a great hope: to believe that the Church will always remain holy, apostolic, even in a diminished number.
For example, in the fourth century, during the Arian crisis, almost the entire episcopate of the Church accepted the politics of heresy, or semi-heresy. Only a few bishops remained faithful: St. Athanasius, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Basil… Imagine the whole episcopate accepting the politically correct, the heresy! Pope Liber was very weak, and he even excommunicated Saint Athanasius.
So there was darkness in the Church. But the faith triumphed among the faithful, among you, the faithful. It was a miracle. And the faithful kept the Church that lived on within souls: the Holy, Apostolic Church lived in the souls of the faithful and in the souls of the priests and the bishops so few.
I think the situation is similar today. The Church continues to be holy, apostolic, catholic, in every catholic soul – layperson, priest or bishop – who faithfully keeps the integrity of the faith and of the Christian life.
J.S.: Excellency, you explain in your book that your name, Athanasius, was given to you – it is a religious name. Did you think when you received it that it was destined for a particular struggle?
Bishop Schneider: Never. Absolutely never. It was impossible for me. Even the name Athanasius was, to me, completely strange. I didn’t know why I was given the name Athanasius; I knew the life of St. Athanasius, but I was a simple priest, and I could never imagine when I became a priest that one day I would become a bishop and have to fight a battle sometimes similar to that of St. Athanasius, who even had to resist the Holy Father at times, to admonish the Pope as I did with the Abu Dhabi commentary on diversity of religions. I had to admonish the Pope in facie, face to face, personally, with respect, but I had to resist and admonish. But it was for the love of the Church that I did it, for the love of the Pope. That’s important: the intention. It would be easier for me to say nothing to the Pope. But my conscience would not allow me to do so. I should live like Saint Athanasius. Saint Athanasius said these words to another bishop of his time, a friendly bishop: “We must not serve our time, we must serve God.” This is our purpose, our task. So I think that Divine Providence guides us and we must live only for truth and for eternity.
J.S.: I was just going to ask you about that: you spoke about your request for clarification to the Pope about the Abu Dhabi document, which claims that the diversity of religions was willed by God in His wisdom, and you obtained an answer that could considered to be satisfactory, saying that it was a “permissive will” of God. But that response did not extend to the whole Church and on the whole the faithful are faced with a pope who – not all the time but quite often – would seem to teach things that are totally contrary to what we believe. And my question is perhaps a bit sharp: what can we do to continue to love the pope and obey his authority as Christ’s vicar?
Bishop Schneider: We must always see the ministry of the Pope with the eyes of faith. Not with sentimentality.
The Pope has the fundamental task of confirming all the faithful and the bishops in the faith.
And if the Pope does not do this, we must help him, starting with us bishops, to make clarity, with respectful words.
We even have examples, like that of St. Catherine of Siena. She wrote many letters to the Pope of her time, so that he would return from Avignon to Rome, because this situation was to the detriment of the Church. One letter that St. Catherine wrote was to the Pope, I think it was Urban VI, who was very problematic. She admonished this Pope to change his attitude, because his behavior was to the detriment of the Church.
She wrote: Most Holy Father, you are the sweet Christ on earth, I am your loving and obedient daughter; but if you don’t convert, give up the papacy, give up your task. “Your loving and obedient daughter”…
She continued to love the Pope, but she gave admonitions for love of the Pope, because perhaps, renouncing the Papacy would mean for the Pope to save his soul before God, before the judgment of God. It’s a gesture of love for one’s neighbor.
But unfortunately, as time has gone by – I think in particular of the last two centuries – there has been even until today a phenomenon that many people now call papolatry, the adoration of the Pope almost: to consider the Pope as God, who can never make a mistake. This is wrong. This attitude towards the Pope has never existed in the Church.
The Pope is human, the Pope is not the good God. We have to reform this, it is unhealthy. The Pope is only a vicar, a serving minister, and also a sinner. Only on special and rare occasions does he have the charism of infallibility. But sometimes, as history has shown, the Pope has made mistakes, serious mistakes, moral, political … rarely doctrinal, thanks to God.
But it is the same situation now. We can tell them to the Pope, with love, and make filial, fraternal admonitions. As a bishop, I have the task of helping the Pope, as colleagues, as in a collegiality.
So the Pope is not a king. The Pope cannot say: I am the Church, as Louis XIV said: I am the State! The Church is not the private property of the Pope. He is only an administrator, a vicar. And we must help the Holy Father, with our prayers, our penances, our atonements, and sometimes respectful admonitions.
J.S.: This is ultimately opening up perspectives. But in the contacts I have with readers, I see that there is a sedevacantist temptation in the present situation. And I would very much like you to tell us how to fight it: should we fight it? How can we fight it? This temptation seems to me to be very present right now.
Bishop Schneider: Do you know what the root of sedevacantism is? It is exactly papolatry, the fact of divinizing the pope.
So it is a false vision of these sedevacantist faithful and priests, according to which the Pope is almost the good God, the Pope can never make mistakes, and therefore if a Pope has defects, as was the case after the Council, with the new Mass, then in Assisi, and now with the phenomenon we know, Amoris Laetitia, Pachamama, Abu Dhabi, etc., then he is no longer Pope, because the Pope cannot have any defects. He is the good Lord. If a Pope shows some weaknesses, serious ones, like after the Council, regarding the liturgy, regarding the doctrine, his faithful say that now he is not Pope anymore: sede vacantia. And we should wait for God to give us again a divine pope, completely holy, completely infallible.
But this is wrong! It is a completely un-Catholic view.
This is, I think, the deep, doctrinal, psychological root of the thinking of these faithful. And we have to help these faithful, to correct this completely unrealistic attitude that also contradicts the history of the Church.
I think another root is that these faithful are scandalized, and reject the Cross. We have to carry the cross of a difficult Pope, of a Pope who makes confusion. This is the heaviest cross, and we have to carry this cross. I think that these sedevacantist faithful do not want to carry this cross, this suffering, for the Church, to support such an ecclesiastical superior as Supreme Pastor. So we need to have a supernatural vision.
J.S.: We were talking earlier, Bishop Schneider, before this meeting, about a Pope who had bought his office. I would like you to share this anecdote because there is a lot of talk about the election of Pope Francis having been rendered invalid by various circumstances, by certain canonical laws. If you could tell us that, I think it would be very enlightening.
Bishop Schneider: I think that in general it is very beneficial to know the history of the Church and the history of the papacy. It is very important for our time.
For example, in the 11th century, when there was still the phenomenon of the Saeculum obscurum, the Dark Ages, when the papacy was occupied by groups of mafias, immoral groups, there were forces for the renewal of the Church. Hildebrandt, the future Pope Gregory VII, a Benedictine abbot in Rome, was the soul of a group of cardinals working for a true reform of the Church, and after his death, these times were called the “Gregorian reform.”
He saw that the Pope was a gravely immoral person, who was giving public scandals that were unbearable. There was a good cardinal, and Abbot Hildebrandt, who had heard that this Pope loved money very much and was ready to sell the papacy for money, had combined this thing for the good of the Church: to remove this immoral Pope. He advised this cardinal to buy the pontificate for a large sum of money from this corrupt Pope.
And so the Pope sold his papacy to this good cardinal, who became Pope Gregory VI and appointed Hildebrandt cardinal, and so he was able to do a good job of reforming the Church. It was canonically invalid, since it was simony. But the Church has always considered this Pope Gregory VI as valid, even though he became Pope by simony, by buying his office.
J.S.: Excellency, your book, when I translated it and read it very carefully, seemed to me to be programmatic. I don’t think you actually wanted to present a platform as a candidate, but in any case you sought to explain how the Church can recover its holiness, and your message is ultimately a message of hope. In this program that you describe by showing how to appoint good bishops, what points should be stressed? Could you describe somewhat the way out of this crisis as you see it?
Bishop Schneider: It all depends on good people being strategically put in place: good, competent people. This has always been the method during the crises of the church. We must have leaders who are people of integrity, people of faith.
I think that the reform of the Church should indeed begin in the Holy See, with a reformed papacy, renewed in the spirit of the Martyr Popes, of Christ, without fear, without an inferiority complex before the world. The Church needs this kind of Pope, who can appoint bishops, cardinals, of the same spirit. It is logical.
A good bishop can transform his whole diocese for generations. I had this experience in Brazil. My bishop was a very strong Catholic in the midst of Liberation theology; he renewed the whole diocese with a well-formed clergy, with faithful, with churches, and he restored communion on the knees and on the tongue. The whole diocese and the clergy were renewed. It was an example.
Imagine if all the dioceses in France were like that, with such bishops. Courageous bishops, strong in prayer, like apostles. The whole of France would change.
And then the priests! We would have new clergy, and families. And for this reason, we must renew the episcopate, of course. Because you, the faithful, already have the faith and you are preparing the ground. God is preparing the ground with you, little faithful.
And then will come the time when Divine Providence will again give us strong bishops, like St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Martin of Tours, Cardinal Pius of Poitiers, and so on. There are great figures of the episcopate in France and in other countries, like Cardinal von Galen, at the time of Nazism …
So there is hope, we have to work, but of course it is not enough, it is very necessary that from the Holy See, a clear document emanates, a kind of Syllabus, or a kind of very precise profession of faith, looking at the common errors of our time, with even threats of excommunication, as there have always been, and that Our Lord created as a spiritual doctor. It is therefore necessary to have good appointments, and the profession of faith.
J.S.: At the end of your book, you published a text by St. Peter Julien Eymard, “The Triumph of the Church through the Holy Eucharist,” and this is one of the questions that Diane Montagna asked you a little earlier. She said, “She [the Church] must return to her First Love?” And you answered, in the book: “To Eucharistic love.” What exactly is the place of this Eucharistic love in the program you are giving to the faithful tonight to work for the victory of Christ?
Bishop Schneider: The Eucharist is the heart of the Church. The Church is a mystical body, not a human organization, nor a political one. The Church is the mystical body of Christ, and every body has a heart: here the heart is the Eucharist.
Now, for decades, we have been witnessing a heart disease, a Eucharistic heart disease, which I call cardiastenia eucharistica, a kind of weakness of the Eucharistic heart, because of the widespread forms of desecration, sacrilege, outrage of our Lord in the small consecrated host, even in the small particles that fall during communion, because of communion in the hand. Nobody can deny it, it is obvious that Our Lord falls on the ground.
This is for me the deepest wound in the life of the Church. And for this reason we must restore and re-establish all the dignity, the sublimity, of the Eucharistic cult, especially during the distribution of Holy Communion and the celebration of Holy Mass, which is the principal, vital act of the Church: the sacrifice of the Cross that is now present on our altars.
And so we must renew the mode of celebration of the Christocentric, theocentric Mass, with sacredness: to give Jesus again the centrality of the Mass in the mode of celebration and at the moment of Holy Communion. And on this will depend again the renewed life of the Church.
J.S.: There is a chapter toward the end of your book that touched me immensely, the one about the guardian angels for whom you have a very special veneration – and we could talk here about how this is linked to your order, the Canons regular of the Holy Cross. I would appreciate it very much if you were to tell us about the guardian angels so that in times that are difficult, we may be prompted to lean on them.
Bishop Schneider: The world of angels is the supernatural world par excellence. One root of the spiritual illness of the Church is the loss, the lack of supernatural vision. The Church has turned to the temporal, to the natural, and has lost the vision of a part of the supernatural, the primacy of the supernatural. And the world of angels is the supernatural world par excellence. They are always before the presence of God.
The first task of the angels is the worship of God. The whole essence of angels says: God first, and only God. This is the whole meaning of angels. Everything for God, for the worship of God. Turned completely to God, that is the essence of the angel. And it is our task, that of the Church and men, to be turned towards God always. Sin consists in the fact that we are not turned towards God, sin turns us towards ourselves, towards selfishness.
And for this reason I stress the devotion, the awareness of the existence of the angels that God has given us, sent us, as our companions, as our brothers who always accompany us in our first task of worshipping God, of being turned towards the supernatural, towards eternity. And then each of us has his own guardian angel. What generosity! What a privilege God gives us! Each one of us has a special guardian angel, just for us. This guardian angel will never leave you, day and night, he will always be with you, personally. And he prays, he worships God in our place, always. What a good brother, what a good friend, our best friend!
And so the whole Church should again be more aware of the existence, the presence, and the work, the apparitions of the holy angels. The angels have as another task to fight against the evil spirits, the fallen angels. And the Church militant, we live every day of our battles against sin, against the devil, against temptation, and we must invoke the holy angels to fight with us. We are soldiers of Christ, and the angels accompany us. The moment of spiritual warfare is very important, and the guardian angels, and St. Michael and the other angels remind us of this reality that we must fight. And one day we will all be together with the angels for all eternity, forming a family of God. But now already on earth, you know that in every Mass at the end of the preface, before the Sanctus, the Church says: and with all the angels we sing “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,” to proclaim the holiness of God.
J.S.: Here is my last question before those of the audience: tell us about the snowdrops [a type of flower] and the salmon.
Bishop Schneider: Yes, I chose this flower, which I like very much, because these snowdrops already announce the arrival of spring, still in the time of winter, but already they say the nearness of spring. And the snowdrop pierces the snow. There is already a flower, but in the middle of the snow. And you, the little faithful, the Catholic families, the Catholic children, the Catholic youth, the young priests – also the elderly priests! – you are the snowdrops in the fields still covered with snow, but you announce the coming of spring. In German we say “Schneeglöckchen,” i.e. the snow bells, which already sound the coming of spring.
The other image is the salmon, the fish. It is the fish of the bishops, an episcopal symbol, because the salmon swims against the current. So the task of the bishops today is to swim against the current. That’s why we need many snowdrops and many salmon.
Questions from the audience were collated and read to Bishop Schneider.
The first questions concern Vatican II.
“In this time of the European Cup of Nations, can we say ‘Vatican 2 – Church nil?”
One person asks, “If the pre-Vatican II Church failed to prevent the Council, despite the warnings of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel St. Michael to Pope Leo XIII, which church can we put in the place of Vatican II, the same one? Another one?”
Another person wrote, “Bishop Schneider, you said that there should not be another Vatican II Council, but a second Council of Trent, can you elaborate on this idea?”
Bishop Schneider: First of all, divine providence allowed the Second Vatican Council, we must accept this fact. Even if this event historically brought more disadvantages to the whole Church, God can still make a negative thing, an evil, a good, an even greater good. And we can see that even during the crises after the Council, and now, God has awakened, called up heroic figures, professions of faith, and testimonies of faith. And, secondly, we need a Council of Trent II, simply for the clarity, the need to establish again the clarity of the doctrine and the discipline of the Church. I hope that one day a kind of Council of Trent II will come, not necessarily in the city of Trent, but in the spirit of the Council of Trent.
“Your Excellency, do you have any contact with Archbishop Vigano and what do you think of his positions on the Second Vatican Council? I gather that you are not in a process of absolute rejection of Vatican II but of clarification, and this is what you say in your book.”
Bishop Schneider: Yes.
On the subject of the traditional Mass, there are several questions.
Firstly, are you familiar with the case of Dijon, where the Fraternity of St. Peter is being dismissed by the bishop, Bishop Minnerath? Other traditional communities are experiencing vexations on the part of their bishops, and this is also a theme that has been set before you.
One question asks: “If the Motu proprio Summorum pontificum were to be suppressed, what attitude should Ecclesia Dei communities who wish to remain faithful to the extraordinary form of the Mass adopt? Should they privilege obedience, or should they enter into resistance? For the moment, this does not seem to be aimed at Ecclesia Dei communities, but if so, what attitude do you recommend?”
Bishop Schneider: For the moment these are simply hypotheses. It does not seem that the Holy See will abolish Summorum Pontificum, I would consider that very unreal, not realistic. But perhaps there will be a limitation on the use of Summorum Pontificum.
In this case, I think that you, the faithful and the priests, have the right to a liturgy that is the liturgy of all the saints, almost of all times. So in this case the Holy See does not have the right to suppress a heritage of the whole Church. That would be an abuse, even on the part of a bishop. In this case, you can continue to celebrate the Mass, formally in disobedience, but you will be in obedience to the Church of all times, to all the popes who have celebrated this Mass. And continue with respect to pray for this bishop or for the pope. But find some forms perhaps of catacomb Masses, of clandestine Masses.
But always with the spirit “sentire cum Ecclesia,” with a love for the Church and for souls. So it would be a service to the whole Church. The Church is not just now, the Church is of all times.
A couple of questions, again general:
“What do you think about the temptation to become Orthodox of the Moscow Patriarchate?”
“What about the errors of the Popes and the dogma of infallibility, mainly for the Popes of the 20th and 21st centuries?”
There is a true concern about the Church, there has been a lot of talk about it: what do you think about this temptation to become Orthodox?
Bishop Schneider: It is very false, because becoming Orthodox is worse than becoming sedevacantist. Because they reject the faith, the dogma of the primacy of Peter. This is a Gospel truth, it is a truth of dogma.
Sedevacantism does not reject the dogma, it only declares, in an arbitrary way, the seat of Peter vacant, but this is unrealistic.
The Orthodox, however, reject the dogma, and for this reason we cannot go in that direction, even to have a beautiful liturgy. You know that the Orthodox Church admits divorce. Do you want to have a church with divorce? You can get married, even in church, in the Orthodox Church: a second time, a third time. But only three times, not four. The second marriage, and perhaps the third, is called a penitential marriage.
The rite is penitential: the father blesses couples who are de facto adulterers, with a somewhat penitential rite. So it’s a contradiction, and it’s very serious. There is no clear magisterium on contraception either, there is no universal magisterium. So it is problematic. The Orthodox Church has many values, I have many Orthodox friends, even bishops and priests and faithful, they have good values, a liturgy, sacredness, humility, reverence, fasting, penance, and that is good. But that is not all.
On the Mass and the Eucharistic celebration, there are several questions:
“Why does Pope Francis denounce ‘rigid priests’? Who is he targeting? Why this obsession?” Now, I don’t think you can answer for the Pope, but I submit the point.
Another question that comes from a priest: “A few years ago, Cardinal Sarah invited all priests, especially young priests, to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent facing the Lord. Among those who were convinced, how many were able to do so? The Church violates priests and seminarians continuously. Do you think it would be useful to fill the ecclesiastical courts with complaints to force the Church to return to its law and doctrine? The Pope Emeritus said not to oppose the abuse of power is to become an accomplice.”
Still on the same theme: “Could you, Monsignor, admonish the Archbishop of Paris and all our bishops concerning the Holy Communion they want to be given in the hand? Thank you for what you are.”
Bishop Schneider: I am not able, as part of my own task, to admonish the bishop of Paris, because I am not the pope. Only the Pope, the superior, can do that. I can, if he asks me, give him fraternal advice, but not publicly, and in a respectful way. But perhaps you can send my book, especially on communion in the hand, to these French bishops.
[Jean-Pierre Maugendre’s intervention: This has been done, all the bishops of France have received Bishop Schneider’s book. About 10 of them have kindly acknowledged receipt, and some of these have committed themselves to read it].
Bishop Schneider: You can, I think, launch an initiative of the faithful, perhaps on behalf of the youth, to ask the Pope, the Holy See, to guarantee the right of every faithful to receive communion on the lips, even during the so-called pandemic, because all sanitary measures can be respected, and therefore there is no objective, scientific reason not to do do. For this reason you can make a request, with evidence from specialists, and send it to Rome to guarantee your rights. For the Mass, there is also another procedure to allow all priests to celebrate the Mass, even the new Mass, towards God.
Should we take these matters to the ecclesiastical courts?
Bishop Schneider: Go to the Holy See, because that is the source. From there must come an order, an orientation.
Now a question about the Church in America and President Biden. “We know that there is a lot of controversy at the moment, in particular in projects and reflections of the American bishops, which aim at refusing communion to President Joe Biden who declares himself Catholic and at the same time pro-abortion. Some say that this is a strictly political matter. How can a Catholic feel he is in a state of grace allowing him to receive Communion while at the same time declaring himself to be pro-abortion, and how can such an issue come to divide the Church?”
Bishop Schneider: This is proof that a part of the bishops have lost some faith in the importance of the Eucharist. What is the Eucharist? It is Our Lord, the immense holiness of God, and therefore they have also lost faith in the inestimable greatness of the Eucharist. And they have forgotten the Holy Scripture that tells us: whoever eats the body of the Lord unworthily, eats his judgment.
So these bishops, who admit Biden or other politicians who promote abortion, to Holy Communion, these bishops are cruel. They are letting these souls go to waste and eat the judgment of God. This is a very irresponsible thing, a great sin against the love of our neighbor.
And so the other bishops who do not allow communion for Biden have a true love for Biden, for Biden’s soul, so that he does not eat the divine judgment.
So there are two things, the loss of faith of these bishops in the sanctity of Holy Communion, and the danger of receiving Holy Communion in an objectively unworthy state. They forget that this gesture of admitting these people publicly is at the same time saying that we implicitly approve of the fact that politicians can promote abortion. This is a very irresponsible pastoral attitude.
There are two questions left.
The first one is: “Do you see other bishops joining your ideas, the current that you embody, or does this current remain isolated?”
Bishop Schneider: I don’t have contact with all the bishops, but some of course have the same concern, the same spirit, but a large part of the bishops unfortunately, even good bishops, are intimidated. They prefer to keep silent for personal reasons or to preserve their ecclesiastical career, or because of a kind of papalism, unhealthy papolatry, or various other reasons. But numbers are not important in the reign of God.
And the last question:
Bishop Schneider, in Christus Vincit you mention the question of Our Lady of Fatima, her message, her requests, the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, you express doubts as to whether this consecration was done in full in the way Our Lady wanted. A participant asks, “Appealing to the Pope to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a project of a small group in France, would you be willing to support this supernatural initiative?”
Bishop Schneider: Yes, I am ready. I think it is necessary. But it is in God’s hands. Of course a full, explicit consecration will bring many graces to our world and to the Church, and to Russia and the whole world, as Our Lady promised.
Therefore, we must pray, we must take steps, so that the Pope will make the full and explicit consecration, and to ask Our Lady for the Triumph of her maternal and Immaculate Heart.
[End, Bishop Schneider June 25 interview]
Note to readers
Here is a link to an interview I gave on Tuesday, July 20, to Jim Hale of LifeSiteNews.
P.S. At the 36:49 mark we begin to talk about a pilgrimage to the Shenandoah Valley. You might take a look at those few seconds and consider whether you might like to join us toward the end of October when all the Valley is ablaze with the red, orange and gold of the changing leaves. (Click here for a link to the Information and Registration Packet)
The Shenandoah Valley Experience Pilgrimage
October 24 – 29, 2021
From the rolling waters of the Shenandoah River to the rich, orange sunsets of Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains; from the bountiful farmland of this river valley to the many National Shrines in the area; we will encounter the beating heart of the Church and America today. Come to renew your soul, rest your mind, and ignite your heart.
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