On February 2, Bishop Athanasius Schneider – “our hero,” according to Michael Matt, Founder of the #UNITEtheCONS movement – published a statement calling on Francis to rule decisively against the German bishops’ plans to enact the so-called “Synodal Path.”
According to Bishop Schneider, the “synodal path is ultimately an attempt to give official approval to truly heretical doctrines, with their correspondent sacramental and pastoral practices.” Specifically, he pointed to the effort to affirm “the legitimacy of heterosexual acts outside a valid marriage” and “the admittance to Holy Communion of people living in adultery” as being among the “clearly heretical” propositions that must be defeated.
He even went so far as to refer to those prelates who support such things as “these heretical bishops.”
In light of this, Bishop Schneider states:
Pope Francis ought necessarily to intervene and demand that the participants in the “synodal path” formally profess those truths and universal sacramental practices of the Church, which they are calling into question…
The Pope cannot passively stand by or be silent as he watches the “wolves” devour the flock or the “arsonists” set fire to the house…
Were the Pope not to correct the heretical decisions of the “synodal path,” he would thereby consent to them by his silence.
Bishop Schneider went on to cite the Arian crisis as a notable precedent for the divisions that the “synodal path” portends. At that time, he writes:
The criteria and guarantee for being truly Catholic was the communion with the Apostolic See in Rome and with the unchanging and constant doctrinal Tradition.
On February 7, I reached out to Bishop Schneider, who has been gracious enough to respond to my queries in the past, for comment. Specifically, I invited him to comment on the bewildering fact that he is calling on Francis to interrupt an “attempt to give official approval to truly heretical doctrines” that he has already approved via the document Amoris Laetitia.
I also reminded him of the fact that Francis ordered the Buenos Aires Bishops’ guidelines allowing for “the admittance to Holy Communion of people living in adultery” published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS), along with his own letter stating “there are no other interpretations” of Amoris Laetitia.
As of this writing, Bishop Schneider, who is among the best of the “full communion” lot, has not responded. [NOTE: I hope to be proven wrong, but it seems that Bishop Schneider, like Cardinal Burke, may have narrowed his media contacts down to a handful of low-t “traditional,” fence sitting, closet neo-con cheerleaders who are willing to parrot whatever he happens to state unchallenged.]
In any case, we are left with more questions than answers concerning exactly what Bishop Schneider has in mind and what he hopes to accomplish via his recent statement. So, let’s consider a few…
Is it possible that he genuinely does not see the absurdity of his request for Francis’ intervention in the matter?
This was my first thought. In hindsight, however, it seems highly unlikely that Bishop Schneider could be so entirely disconnected from reality.
This leaves us with but one other option, at least insofar as I can imagine; namely, the possibility that he is taking the opportunity – stealthily and by way of implication alone – to accuse Francis of his own crimes. While this theory is perhaps more likely than the alternative, it too is rife with difficulty.
Readers may recall that Bishop Schneider went on record in May 2019 as saying that the Open Letter accusing Francis of heresy in light of Amoris Laetitia “went too far.”
Has he since come to the undeniable realization that Francis, by lending his “approval to truly heretical doctrines” vis-à-vis Amoris Laetitia has properly revealed himself to be “heretical”?
In asking Francis to demand that the German bishops formally profess those truths and universal sacramental practices of the Church, is he subtly urging Francis to reconsider answering the questions that are posed in the Dubia?
Is he suggesting that Francis’ silence in the face of the Dubia may rightly be considered his “official approval of truly heretical doctrines, with their correspondent sacramental and pastoral practices”?
Bishop Schneider went on to say in his statement that faithful priests and bishops “will not be able to maintain communion with those German bishops who advocate heretical teachings” such as those under discussion.
Is he hinting that remaining in communion with Francis, the putative Bishop of Rome – that is, treating him as if he were a true pope – is fast becoming untenable for those who wish nothing more than the “guarantee of being truly Catholic”?
Like I said, at this point we’re left with more questions than answers. Unfortunately, the further we delve into his statement, the worse things look for Bishop Schneider.
The consequences of Francis’ failure to “intervene with an unambiguous profession of the Catholic Faith and the perennial sacramental practice of the Church,” according to Bishop Schneider, would be such that “the Catholic Church would in appearance and practice be similar to the Anglican Communion or to a Protestant Free Church.”
Here, we have a genuine case of cognitive dissonance.
You see, if a reigning pope were to consent to “truly heretical doctrines, with their correspondent sacramental and pastoral practices” such as those mentioned in Bishop Schneider’s statement, it could no longer be said that the “Apostolic See in Rome” has preserved “the unchanging and constant doctrinal Tradition.”
In this case, we would be faced with far more than mere appearances.
In other words, the gates of Hell – understood as “the death-dealing tongues of heretics” according to the Second Council of Constantinople – will have prevailed.
As we have noted, however, this is no longer a matter of speculation as Francis has already officially approved – not only by silence, but by direct decree – these very same, truly heretical, doctrines!
So, have the gates of Hell prevailed? Certainly not!
The only possible answers to this conundrum are plain: The institution presently operating out of Rome under the direction of Jorge Bergoglio cannot possibly be the Holy Catholic Church, and this Francis person is most certainly not a true pope.
There are no other choices, folks.
In conclusion, even if Bishop Schneider’s statement is an effort to stealthily accuse Francis of being a heretic – the best case scenario insofar as his own Catholic credibility is concerned – he would emerge from this exercise far more the coward than the “hero.”