Readers may have noticed the unfortunate fact that questions concerning the formal act of correction weren’t broached in the recent interview of Cardinal Raymond Burke (commented upon in yesterday’s post).
Was this merely an oversight on the part of the interviewer, or is it more likely the case that all concerned agree not to mention that particular elephant in the room beforehand?
Whatever the case may be, in a January 6th interview with Rorate Caeli, Bishop Athanasius Schneider was asked about it, and given the fact that he and Cardinal Burke are cut from the same cloth (conciliar, neo-conservative) his answer may very well provide insight into the reason why the formal act of correction has yet to be delivered.
In fact, based on his response, one may well believe that it will never come.
When asked what he considers to be the reason for the delay, His Excellency replied:
In the face of the current temporal and partial eclipse of the function of the Papal Magisterium concerning concretely the defense and practical enforcement of the indissolubility the marriage, the members of the episcopal and of the cardinalitial colleges have to assist the Pope in this Magisterial duty through public professions of the immutable truths which the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium — that means what all the Popes and the entire episcopate during all times – have taught concerning the doctrine and the sacramental practice of the marriage.
In other words, if the pope is unwilling to defend, in practical terms, the indissolubility of marriage, as is his duty, then cardinals and bishops must “assist” him by making their own “public professions” of this self-same immutable truth.
To many readers this may appear rather unobjectionable, but in reality it is immensely weak and falls woefully short of the duty incumbent upon all Catholics, and much more, the Successors to the Apostles.
In truth, these men have a sacred duty, for the salvation of those souls entrusted to their care, to make “public professions” of – that is, to teach – the immutable truths clearly expressed in Catholic doctrine, both in season and out of season; i.e., whether the man who claims to be pope is willing to do so or not.
They also, however, have the duty and the authority to defend the truths of the faith when they are under attack; i.e., they are called to directly confront and to condemn both heresy and the purveyors of heresy, and this for the good of souls.
As the bitter experience of that last fifty-plus years most certainly attests, men-of-the-Council, who fancy themselves dispensers of the “medicine of mercy,” have not the Catholic cojones to do such a thing.
In the present situation, apparently they have come to believe that a “formal act of correction” is a little bit too much like an act of condemnation for their comfort.
When asked what will happen if “Francis continues to officially approve of bishops’ conferences giving Holy Communion to some divorced and remarried,” Bishop Schneider (while providing the requisite citation of the Almighty Council) made it rather clear that, at least insofar as he is concerned, formally correcting him isn’t an option.
There exists the following principle of the traditional Catholic doctrine since the first centuries: “Prima sedes a nemine iudicatur”, i.e., the first episcopal chair in the Church (the chair of the Pope) cannot be judged by anybody. When bishops remind the Pope respectfully of the immutable truth and discipline of the church, they don’t judge hereby the first chair of the Church, instead they behave themselves as colleagues and brothers of the Pope. The attitude of the bishops towards the Pope has to be collegial, fraternal, not servile and always supernaturally respectful, as it stressed the Second Vatican Council (especially in the documents Lumen gentium and Christus Dominus). One has to continue to profess the immutable faith and pray still more for the Pope and, then, only God can intervene and He will do this unquestionably.
OK, first let’s be very clear: The principle cited – Prima sedes a nemine iudicatur – means that no one has jurisdiction over the pope, and in that sense, the Chair of Peter cannot be judged by anybody.
It does not mean that the objective sense of his teachings are beyond judgment relative to immutable truth and, therefore, cannot be explicitly condemned when they are heretical.
In plain English, Bishop Schneider’s approach to Francis can be summed up as follows:
Cardinals and bishops need only publicly profess Catholic doctrine, remind Francis of the same (as if he simply forgot), and pray for him.
Beyond this, Francis is to be given free rein to spout blasphemies and heresies in whatever way he sees fit, even should he choose to promulgate them in official “papal” texts addressed to the Universal Church in the name of Peter, and even should he take steps to enshrine them and the so-called “pastoral practices” that spring from them in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
In other words, let Bergoglio continue leading souls to Hell, because, after all, “only God can intervene and He will do this unquestionably.”
Sorry, folks. This is nothing more than a monumental cop out.
Apparently Bishop Schneider and his confreres need a reminder of their own:
God did intervene in human history in the Person of Jesus Christ, who established a hierarchical Church endowed with Apostolic Succession, thereby providing bishops with the authority, and the duty, to condemn heresies and heretics in His name, no matter who they may be (even if an angel from Heaven) for the good of souls.
I do not doubt that Bishop Schneider means well, but I also have no doubt that he and many others in the episcopate will one day have to answer for their failure to uphold their sacred duties in the face of the Bergoglian assault.