Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan—a Novus Ordite though!—has certainly developed an international reputation for his defence of Catholic doctrine and tradition. Always very clear and unambiguous in his words, the Bishop spoke with LifeSiteNews last week in an interview, about the evil Synod of Bishops on the Family, which is nearing its end in Rome this week, warning that the Synod appears to be taking its lead from the “anti-family agenda,” and goes so far as to say that those advocating changes are following the “spirit” and “language” of Satan.
LifeSiteNews: The Synod of Bishops on the Family is right now taking place in Rome. What are your own observations and impressions of the Synod's discussions so far? And about what has not been said?
Bishop Schneider: Well, I’m not participating in the Synod so I can only say what I’m reading in the mass media, and from the Catholic Bloggers, and so from this information which I have, my impression is that it is the same as it was in the last year. The Synod is, unfortunately, focused only on the two main themes: namely, the admittance of the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, and the recognition in some way of the homosexual way of life. These two topics are part of the typical agenda of the anti-Christian world ideology.
It is very sad that the Synod has in some way let itself be conditioned to be lost in a scramble for this false freedom. It is a bondage to be under this submission to this typical anti-Christian philosophy that is both promoting the homosexual ideology and destroying family by the means of divorce. It seems that these are the two points around which there are the synodal discussions and the battles; and we can read much of this in the contributions of the synod fathers and also in the later reports of some language groups which have been published.
This is really bad, because this is supposed to be a synod on the family and it leaves the impression that it has become a synod for promoting the anti-family agenda. Therefore, for now it is not so openly published, and yet the majority of Synod fathers – also to be seen in the Instrumentum Laboris – have not spoken, at least not sufficiently, about the very important virtue of chastity. This chastity is a Biblical, Christian, and Apostolic virtue which is so necessary at all times, but especially in our times, where now anti-chastity has become a kind of overriding “value,” though it truly is an “unvalue.”
Unchastity has become for the modern world an ideology, a style which has to be even widely promoted. And so we can state that some of the Synod members and of those who have key positions in the administrative structures of the Synod have bent themselves for, or stooped to, these anti-Christian pressures and such a submission is really a shame. How can members of an official Synod which represents the successors of the Apostles take this stance and forget to promote chastity, such an essential virtue to cultivate when we speak about family and marriage, for example? And another thing, our intention must be to promote really large families and once more to show the immorality and the danger of contraception. And so to my perception it is these two points which are, regrettably, not sufficiently clearly treated in the Synod.
LSN: 13 Cardinals have written a letter to Pope Francis where they criticize the lack of reliable and continuous transparency and the fact that the Commission for the Final Report has not been elected by the Synod Fathers themselves. To what extent would you agree with their objections?
Bishop Schneider: I read the letter which was published in the media and I completely agree with their observations. It is what they stated that has, to my knowledge, indeed a true foundation, a base.
LSN: Many journalists have now expressed their indignation because of the lack of trustworthy information about the Synod's ongoing discussions. Would you yourself have some observations about how this Synod is organized and how its discussions are transmitted to the public?
Bishop Schneider: As I already stated I am not in Rome and not participating in the Synod or its surroundings. Therefore, I cannot speak in a very complete manner. I can only say what I observe, according to the information which I am following in the mass media.
As the letter of cardinals says, it is really an impression that the discussions are directed to a specific team so as to achieve a pre-determined result, to admit the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion and to admit the permissibility of the homosexual way of life. We have to call the things by their right name. To achieve these aims, the information is filtered through some kind of censorship in the Vatican press office – we can see this every day – and when there are some critical voices concerning the content or the procedure, there is the danger that they are silenced.
Some journalists even lose their accreditation. It is becoming more and more obvious, and the manipulation and the tactics of those who held key positions in the Synod will probably become even more evident, in the future, after the scholars will have had access to the archives.
LSN: Have you yourself received reports from Synod Fathers about how the Synod is progressing and about the topics that have been brought up – or not brought up – so far? Is the Synod going in the direction of preserving the Church's traditional moral teaching?
Bishop Schneider: I have not received any report from a Synod Father and one has the impression that some influential members of the Synod are going into the direction of not preserving the Church's moral teaching in these two areas that we have already spoken about: Eucharistic Communion for the divorced and remarried; and approval of the homosexual way of life. We hope the Holy Ghost will help us and that the Synod Fathers, in the final document, will repeal or repudiate these un-Christian elements.
LSN: You have criticized the Synod's Instrumentum Laboris (working document) publicly before the Synod. May we know what your main criticism of this text is?
Bishop Schneider: Yes the main criticism is that this text has a main characteristic of a kind of relativism, that the truth is not always valid, that the truth can supposedly change under different or evolving historical circumstances. That is the underlying ideological text of the whole document.
It reveals itself, for example, in contradictory passages such as these: in one paragraph, there is stated the indissolubility of Christian marriage, and then in another passage there is shown a possibility for those couples who are divorced to give them permitted access to the Sacraments. It is a continuous contradiction. Or, it is slipped in with a veiled language which is both sophisticated and has characteristics of sophism, so as to introduce the homosexual way of life.
For example, by talking about families who have members who have homosexual tendencies; and it is very clear what they imply and mean with that and more fully desire to achieve. There is finally introduced, through ambiguous expressions, the recognition and acceptance of this sinful way of life. This is in my opinion the basic problem of this document: it really is a kind of doctrinal and moral relativism. And the relativism is so concretely shown in these two specific topics.
LSN: Do you see a likelihood that the defects of that working document will be acknowledged and corrected by the ongoing Synod?
Bishop Schneider: I hope for this, but I cannot say, because I am not participating. I do have though some concerns and some doubts about what we now observe and the methods of manipulation and censorship of those who have the administrative power in the ruling of the Synod and in the press office of the Synod.
Those who have the power of ruling this Synod reveal themselves as propagators of these two topics (about Sacramental Communion for the divorced and remarried and about approval of homosexual acts) as we have mentioned, and so it remains for me doubtful whether the ongoing Synod will correct these defects. Even in their letter, where the 13 cardinals pointed out the problematic issues with the Instrumentum Laboris and the insufficient doctrinal character of this Instrumentum Laboris, their arguments were rejected. For on the very next day, the content was rejected by the General Secretary of the Synod in the Synod Aula.
Because these preoccupations were immediately rejected, it is, humanly speaking, therefore very doubtful that the final document will unambiguously correct these grave defects.
LSN: As little as we know about the discussions in the Synod Hall, some points have been released to the public. Archbishop Paul-André Durocher from Canada presented the idea that the Church should do more for women, and possibly even ordain women deacons and give women higher positions and decision-making participation within the Church's structures. What would you say about this statement?
Bishop Schneider: This is completely wrong and does not belong to the theme of the family. It is a typical agenda to destroy Catholic doctrine, the Catholic identity, taking elements from the agenda which started first in the Protestant “churches”, and the promoters of such proposals will also not likely stop with the women diaconate. They want to go even further, and, so, this is an abuse of the Synod to introduce heretical positions into the Church and to destroy the Apostolic Tradition.
The sacramental order in the Church is a role for men, and not for women. This would be against women. The sacramental order is not a power; it is a ministry. Church offices are not a power. It is unfortunately the case that some clergy live and behave in a very worldly way, abusing the spiritual power, but this is not the real meaning of the Catholic Priesthood and Diaconate and of their sacramental offices in the Church. This new proposal is a completely wrong view. And, secondly, it is a wrong view of the nature and mission of the women in the family and in the Church according to God’s plan.
It seems that Archbishop Paul-André Durocher is only a spokesman for those who want to give to the woman a mission and a task which she has not received from God, and which is against the plan of God; and therefore she will be damaged for her life as a Christian woman. A real Christian woman would never desire to occupy decision-making powers within the Church. In fact, the woman already has one of the highest decision making-powers because she is mother.
There is a proverb which says: “The hand which rocks the crib of the child governs the world.” This is the real end, namely to educate children; and from the crib, even from carrying a child in the womb, and then until the child becomes adult, the woman has this very high and responsible decision-power to educate a new person for God, for the society, for heaven, for eternal life. What a decision power is this!
LSN: Abbot Jeremias Schröder has publicly said at one of the Synod press conferences that a majority of the Synod Fathers support the idea of allowing different regions (and national bishops' conferences) to establish their own ways of dealing with contentious issues such as homosexuality and divorce. What would be your comment on this proposal which has especially been strongly promoted by the German Bishops' Conference, especially with respect to the preservation of the Doctrine and Morals of the Church?
Bishop Schneider: This proposal is not Catholic; it is destroying Catholicism, because “Catholic” means to believe in the same manner essential things. And to accept homosexuality and divorce is not a secondary aspect. In secondary aspects we can differ from one local Church to another – the kind of singing, the kind of dressing, language – we have different devotional practices in different countries; but with the same Catholic spirit and richness. Difference is legitimate, but only that which is not against the Catholic truth. Such differences are really complementary.
By way of these slyly pluralistic new proposals, of course, they will destroy the meaning and Catholicity of the Church. And this is also an agenda of the anti-Christian world ideology, namely to destroy from within the Catholic Church and to make it a Protestant-like conglomeration of different regional and confessional churches. This will be directly against what we confess every Sunday in the Creed: “I believe in one Church, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.” It seems very realistic that this is a trick to push on, in order to reach the aim of acceptance of divorce and homosexuality, by means of their allowing these regional church authorities to decide. And, by time, and in this way, such destructive topics will be introduced.
LSN: As we speak of the German bishops, let me quote Archbishop Heiner Koch and his own presented second report of the German-language group at the Synod. He said: “We have also considered what the consequences are of such an interrelationship [between God's justice and mercy] with regard to the accompaniment of marriages and families. It excludes a one-sided and deductive hermeneutic which submits concrete situations to a general principle.” And he argued for the desirability to take more into account the personal biographies of people instead of insisting upon the moral law. What does this likely mean, concretely, and is this kind of approach with regard to the question of those living in extramarital or in adulterous relationships an acceptable approach for the Church?
Bishop Schneider: These are speciously beautiful words without content. Only superficially beautiful words, void and vague. Deliberately ambiguous speeches on the topics of theology and faith remind the speech of the serpent who spoke to Adam and Eve, very politely, very crafty, but without content, and filled with lies.
The so called “theology of biography” is an expression without real theological content, and it is only an accumulation of words and resembles a Gnostic language, because it destroys the reality by means of seemingly beautiful words. It destroys the truths. When one reads what Archbishop Koch and some members from the German Language Group said – dwelling upon personal biographies and not upon the moral law – one is compelled to re-write the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ which He said to Zacchaeus in such a way: “It is okay, I have to respect his personal biography and not insist on the law that he has to convert.” But Zacchaeus himself said: “Oh my Lord, I repent. I will not continue with my sin. I will amend my life. I will give back two times as much of what I have stolen.”
Or, there is the woman who sinned. Our Lord could have said to her: “Okay, you have a personal biography; I will not insist on moral law, go in peace.” No, He instead insisted on the moral law and said: “Go and sin no more.” Our Lord insisted on the moral law and even in a more radical way. He said: “When your hand seduces you, cut it off.” This is radicalism! That has nothing to do with personal biography, which is ultimately an anti-Christian statement. It is a way of approving sin, it is against God's will, it is a mockery of the will of God, a mockery of the Ten Commandments.
LSN: Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, another German Bishop, proposed not to tell cohabiting couples that they live in the state of sin, since this would not be the way of drawing them close or closer to the Sacrament of Marriage. He said one should regard pre-marital relationships in a more positive light. How would you respond to such claim?
Bishop Schneider: This is of course non-Christian and this is wrong, and is another way to approve sin. To speak and to act in such a way is unmerciful with a person who is living in a mortal sin and thereby offending God and living in a broken relationship to God and offending God in a serious manner and therefore putting in danger his or her eternal salvation.
When I see a person who is going close to an abyss or where there is another danger, I will warn this person. It is a kind of mercy for my neighbour. I will not say: “I will not disturb you.” This applies above all to a person who is living against the will of God! This person could tomorrow die, or in one hour, and I will have left him there. And should I say: “It is okay, I will leave you in this danger”? And would this not be cruel? This would indeed also be highly irresponsible.
One has doubts if Bishop Bode does believe that committing sexual acts outside marriage is a sin, that cohabitation is a sin. Does he believe in the existence of sin, of mortal sins, and thus, this is the consequence? Does he believe in hell, in eternal damnation? It is to be supposed that a person who speaks in this manner does not believe really in mortal sin, with the consequence of eternal damnation if the sinner dies unrepented. One has to ask if he does not believe on the ever-permanent validity of the revealed Divine Words: “You shall not commit adultery” and “Those who commit adultery will not inherit the kingdom of God.” These are Divinely Revealed words.
LSN: Father Thomas Rosica, the Vatican spokesman for the Synod, has stated publicly with regard to homosexuality at a press conference: “There must be an end to exclusionary language and a strong emphasis on embracing reality as it is. We should not be afraid of new and complex situations. […] The language of inclusion must be our language, always considering pastoral and canonical possibilities and solutions.” To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement with regard to the language used with respect to sinful conduct?
Bishop Schneider: Yes, this is more or less the same matter and content as the previous statements; they have the same common characteristic of relativism and of not taking seriously the truths of the revealed words of God, Who speaks to us clearly.
Indeed, the sometimes exclusionary language of Jesus is strong: “Cast away your hand, your eye”, and this with reference to sin. This is quite an exclusive language. When your brother commits a sin and you see this, you must warn him first individually; and when he does not hear your admonition, you must take witnesses and admonish him; and when he does not hear the witnesses, admonish him in the face of the whole Church; and, when he does not hear the Church then you have to treat him as a heathen. And this is the word of Jesus! And so we are following Jesus.
Those churchmen who accuse the unchangeable truth of doctrine of the Church as possessing an exclusionary language have to address their words to Jesus Christ, and I would say to them: “Please say to Jesus”: “Jesus, you have an exclusionary language.” Such men have the arrogance to correct and to teach God. This is the spirit of the world and a grave sin against the faith. This is dangerous for the salvation of the souls of such bishops and priests.
They correct Jesus in His statements and say ultimately that Jesus in the Gospels did not speak correctly, and this insolent presumption is, in it its final consequence, diabolic! The devil says: “God is not speaking the right way, for He is very exclusionary!” But, His Command, in truth, is ultimately an exclusionary command: “When you do not obey my word – 'not to eat of this fruit' – you will die.” To die is very exclusionary.
The serpent said: “No, it is not true, God did not say this. You will not die. You will be like God.” So, these unfaithful bishops and priests have effectively wanted, or maybe only have unconsciously wanted, in the final result, to be like God. They will state in a superior way what is true and what is exclusionary and what is not exclusionary. And then they become worse than the oft-maligned Inquisition.
The Inquisition indeed had – and it has been recognized now by the international scholarship – one of the most elaborated and equitable methods to protect the accused person, in order to give him the possibility to have and apply the just means of self-defence, and thereby to observe scrupulously the rules. One has the impression that some of those who currently have ruling powers in the Synod structures are not observing the quite wise and balanced rules of procedure of the historical Inquisition.
LSN: In general, what is your own assessment of the modern language as a tool to mediate meaning and substance, such as the words “accompaniment,” “exclusion,” “positive versus negative,” “gradualism,” and so on?
Bishop Schneider: This is again to use language without content to make and express an accumulation of letters with beautiful sound, but without sound substance. This is a perversion of language, in order to achieve an aim which is against the Word of God. And this is typical Gnosticism.
They use words like accompaniment. But they will accompany the person in order that he remains in his sin, in the danger to die eternally. This is the opposite of accompaniment. And “gradualism” is contrary to the Divinely revealed truths because God has radically and effectively said in His Commandments: “Do not lie!” God had not said: “Oh, yes, you can lie a little bit”; He said: “Do not steal.” He did not say: “No, you can steal a little bit, gradually.” In the same way you should not commit adultery, nor unchaste acts, not even a little bit. For, this is contrary to the words and truths of God.
This is even psychologically damaging to the person, because when you say to the liar: “Oh, you can still lie a little bit.” He will not change and not improve really; for, he does not see that he is in danger. He will always say: “Today, my lie was not so big, not so bad,” and so we will likely not help him at all. Therefore, from the point of view of human psychology such a “gradualism” is a danger. We have thus to say this: “You must never lie and never steal, nor to commit unchaste acts, nor to commit calumny, never!” And then the person will know this, that this is a danger, and will have a goal to achieve this standard. He will perhaps not succeed tomorrow, this is another question, but he has the firm will to abandon this, completely.
Of course we have to say this in a charitable manner, like a mother and a father speaking to their children. A responsible father and mother will never say “that is not so bad” when their child, for example, cheats in school. For, cheating is dishonest and when the parents discover it, it would be irresponsible for the father or mother to say: “okay, you can gradually abandon this conduct.” No, the child should never cheat, and he will not be a moral person unless you teach them. You have to educate the child. But then, when your child says: “I made all my effort but lapsed once more,” then you must say: “okay, please continue to try.” This is the pedagogy of God and of the Church.
Every time when a sinner comes with sincere repentance to Confession and truly confesses his sin, the priest has to give him the absolution when he really and sincerely has used all the means at his disposal. When it is only a case of human fragility, we do not have the authority to deny absolution. This is authentic gradualism. But they – the innovators – apply a bad gradualism. They say: “Now you can live in sin. And then tomorrow, or perhaps in one year, when you want you can start to commit lesser sins.” This orientation is completely unrealistic and irresponsible. Not to mention, as well, that this is also contrary to the truth. I only now gave a useful example and an additional psychological comparison.
I grew up in Communism, I went five years to Communist schools, and I remember very well this seductive language, and quite completely; for, they used the same terms, concepts, but in a perverted manner, when they spoke of “peace.” They said: “Oh we are promoting peace,” but we knew that in that Communist time that they were not promoting peace by exporting weapons to Cuba, to Angola, and so on; and, so, this was “the peace.” And this is cynical and is likewise perverting the true meaning of the words.
For example, I remember as a child in the Communist school, that we had to learn a famous Communist song, quite famous at that time, and it goes like this: our country is a beautiful country with trees and forest, and I don’t know another country where people can breathe so freely. Freely! I had to sing this song again and again. A country where you can breathe so freely – and, in actuality, it was a country filled with prisons and with concentration camps. It is very sad that now this innovative group of bishops in the Synod are using a perverted language to promote an anti-Christian agenda.
LSN: Your superior, Archbishop Tomash Peta, of Astana, Kazakhstan, has said recently during the Synod that, at the 2014 Synod, “the 'smoke of Satan' was trying to enter the aula of Paul VI.” He concretely mentioned as examples for this claim the attempt to allow “remarried” divorcees to receive Holy Communion; the claim that cohabitation “is a union which may have in itself some values”; and finally the “pleading for homosexuality as something which is allegedly normal.” He concluded with the regret that the “smell of Satan” is also to be found “in the interventions of some synod fathers this year .” Could you comment on his statement and explain to us a little more about his position?
Bishop Schneider: I consider this statement one of the most striking, and it was one of the most apt statements on the issue. He spoke these words which no one else has dared to speak. He laid a finger on the wound. For, it is the spirit of Satan to pervert the Commandments of God, using specifically alluring and beautiful language. This is the language of Satan, smelling of the smoke of Satan. Archbishop Thomas Peta sincerely said it and we have to hope that some of the synod fathers awoke.
When Jesus spoke, He was often very exclusionary in His language. For example, when Peter said to Jesus: “Oh, you ought not to suffer at the Cross,” Jesus said: “Go and get behind me, Satan.” This is very exclusionary language. And so the Synod Fathers should also stand up and say such things when they see these proposals for accepting homosexuality and divorce: “Satan depart from here, from this Synod Hall, and from this Holy Eternal Rome.” Some people say it would be helpful to make an exorcism upon the Synod meetings.
Bishop Schneider: I completely agree with this statement, it is a very apt remark and a very wise observation. For, this is really what awaits us, what is in front of us: a dictatorship of the homosexual ideology. This is a new dictatorship. And we already observe some officials of the United States are condemned to prison when they refuse to fill out the marriage certificate for a homosexual couple. Kim Davis is an example. There is already starting a dictatorship and we do not yet know in which direction it is to go, so we have to be very vigilant. A display of one-sided thinking: this is typical in all dictatorships. There is no possibility to think another way.
Cardinal Sarah's analysis is very realistic and I agree with it. We have to be vigilant and prepared to be persecuted in different ways and manners, and perhaps not excluding even martyrdom and becoming confessors. Each time, as well as all these times of persecutions are always a time of great blessings for the Church and for her greater purification. Those cardinals and priests who are now so proudly occupying their ecclesiastical power positions and promoting such anti-Christian “values” such as homosexuality, will probably be the first ones who will deny Christ. They will deny Him, and they will not die for Christ, and especially not for the reason that He is God.
LSN: This morning here at St. John the Baptist Parish in Front Royal, Virginia, you spoke in your homily about a neo-Marxist and neo-Communist worldwide dictatorship that we are facing today. Could you explain what you meant with these words, and did this also include the more sophisticated theories and practice of Antonio Gramsci and of the Frankfurt School of Social Research?
Bishop Schneider: We are now observing this worldwide phenomenon in almost all countries that have now laxly introduced the homosexual ideology into schools, into courts. It is there on an increasingly worldwide scale, with the exception of Africa, East Europe, Asia, which are not so developed. But for the rest of the world, everywhere else this ideology and agenda are now being introduced.
This is ultimately neo-Communist and Marxist because the ideology of Marx wants to abolish every sign of difference. The last sign and most evident difference is to be found in the created natural sex of persons. Therefore, there has arrived the homosexual agenda. It would be perhaps worthwhile to make further research in the writings of Marx and Engels. The seat of homosexual ideology is already in Marx and Engels. Therefore, I call this worldwide neo-Marxist, or neo-Communist, action.
I am not so acquainted with the theories of Antonio Gramsci, therefore, I would have to research this question much further. To abolish all differences, all hierarchies, this is Communist, this is Marxist. It would be worthwhile to make this additional historical research in the writings of Marx and Engels – and in Hegel, too.
LSN: If you had the chance to meet with Francis I today, what would you say to him about the Synod? What would your request be?
Bishop Schneider: I would say: Holy Father, your first task is to accomplish loyally what Christ said to Peter, “Peter, confirm your brothers in the Faith; I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail, but you are thus now to confirm your brothers.” So I ask that you, Holy Father, confirm us, your brothers, with the clearest possible statements of the Divine Truths and to do that also with the most unambiguous and clear statements in defence of the Divine Truths on family and marriage, and thus on the dignity of chaste human sexuality. And to be a Defensor Fidei, a Confessor Fidei. It would be my wish that there be no possibility for the Anti-Christian media to exploit your words for the aim of damaging the Catholic truth.
Bishop Schneider: In this time, it seems that some of those in the Church who have received from God the first task to tell the truth in all its integrity, as it comes from the Apostles – and the bishops are to be their unmistakable successors - eventually do the contrary. An influential portion of them who occupy some key positions in Church administration are now misusing their holy, sacred mission so as, it seems, to ultimately destroy the Divine Truths about marriage and the family. This is very grave.
But, God has permitted this, just as He permitted it in the 4th century when nearly the entire episcopacy, with few exceptions, had accepted or sympathized with the Arian heresy. In those times, the simple faithful, the children, loyally maintained, pure and integrally the truth about the divinity of Christ, and this fidelity in some way saved the Church.
I am hoping in the fruitful purity of the faithful, of simple Catholics, of children, of young couples, of large families, of the simple priests, and others who fortunately have kept their purity of Faith and their defence of Faith which they accepted, such as Human Life International, and LifeSiteNews, and some others who have also made a very powerful – and in the eyes of God - effective contribution to keep the purity of Faith and to transmit it to the next generation. This is really our hope and gives us joy and confidence to continue our holy battle for the faith we received in baptism.
Our pure Catholic Faith is a victory over all the attacks of the un-Christian world and over all sophisms and infernal smelling of these deceitful beautiful phrases and proposals of the neo-Gnostic clerical establishment that promotes this subversion. Our pure Faith of the simple ones, “the Little Ones”, the “Parvuli Christi”, will win this struggle finally with the help of the grace of God and the intercession of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who conquered all heresies, as says an ancient Marian antiphon.