Category Archives: Christianity

Bishop Schneider on the Current Crisis in the Catholic Church

Coat of arms of Athanasius Schneider
By Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Special to Rorate Caeli

July 21, 2017

The interpretation of Vatican II and its connection with the current crisis of the Church

The current situation of the unprecedented crisis of the Church is comparable with the general crisis in the 4th century, when the Arianism had contaminated the overwhelming majority of the episcopacy, taking a dominant position in the life of the Church. We must seek to address this current situation on the one hand with realism and, on the other hand, with a supernatural spirit – with a profound love for the Church, our mother, who is suffering the Passion of Christ because of this tremendous and general doctrinal, liturgical and pastoral confusion.

We must renew our faith in believing that the Church is in the safe hands of Christ, and that He will always intervene to renew the Church in the moments in which the boat of the Church seems to capsize, as is the obvious case in our days.

As to the attitude towards the Second Vatican Council, we must avoid two extremes: a complete rejection (as do the sedevacantists and a part of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) or a “infallibilization” of everything the council spoke.

Vatican II was a legitimate assembly presided by the Popes and we must maintain towards this council a respectful attitude. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we are forbidden to express well-founded doubts or respectful improvement suggestions regarding some specific items, while doing so based on the entire tradition of the Church and on the constant Magisterium.

Traditional and constant doctrinal statements of the Magisterium during a centuries-old period have precedence and constitute a criterion of verification regarding the exactness of posterior magisterial statements. New statements of the Magisterium must, in principle, be more exact and clearer, but should never be ambiguous and apparently contrast with previous magisterial statements.

Those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous must be read and interpreted according to the statements of the entire Tradition and of the constant Magisterium of the Church.

In case of doubt the statements of the constant Magisterium (the previous councils and the documents of the Popes, whose content demonstrates being a sure and repeated tradition during centuries in the same sense) prevail over those objectively ambiguous or new statements of the Vatican II, which difficultly concord with specific statements of the constant and previous Magisterium (e.g. the duty of the state to venerate publicly Christ, the King of all human societies, the true sense of the episcopal collegiality in relation to the Petrine primacy and the universal government of the Church, the noxiousness of all non-Catholic religions and their dangerousness for the eternal salvation of the souls).

Vatican II must be seen and received as it is and as it was really: a primarily pastoral council. This council had not the intention to propose new doctrines or to propose them in a definitive form. In its statements the council confirmed largely the traditional and constant doctrine of the Church.

Some of the new statements of Vatican II (e.g. collegiality, religious liberty, ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue, the attitude towards the world) have not a definitive character, and being apparently or truly non-concordant with the traditional and constant statements of the Magisterium, they must be complemented by more exact explications and by more precise supplements of a doctrinal character. A blind application of the principle of the “hermeneutics of continuity” does not help either, since thereby are created forced interpretations, which are not convincing and which are not helpful to arrive at a clearer understanding of the immutable truths of the Catholic faith and of its concrete application.

There have been cases in the history, where non-definitive statements of certain ecumenical councils were later – thanks to a serene theological debate – refined or tacitly corrected (e.g. the statements of the Council of Florence regarding the matter of the sacrament of Orders, i.e. that the matter were the handing-over of the instruments, whereas the more sure and constant tradition said that the imposition of the hands of the bishop were sufficient, a truth, which was ultimately confirmed by Pius XII in 1947). If after the Council of Florence the theologians would have blindly applied the principle of the “hermeneutics of the continuity” to this concrete statement of the Council of Florence (an objectively erroneous statement), defending the thesis that the handing-over of the instruments as the matter of the sacrament of Orders would concord with the constant Magisterium, probably there would not have been achieved the general consensus of the theologians regarding the truth which says that only the imposition of the hands of the bishop is the real matter of the sacrament of Orders.

There must be created in the Church a serene climate of a doctrinal discussion regarding those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous or which have caused erroneous interpretations. In such a doctrinal discussion there is nothing scandalous, but on the contrary, it will be a contribution in order to maintain and explain in a more sure and integral manner the deposit of the immutable faith of the Church.

One must not highlight so much  a certain council, absolutizing it or equating it in fact with the oral (Sacred Tradition) or written (Sacred Scripture) Word of God. Vatican II itself said rightly (cf. Verbum Dei, 10), that the Magisterium (Pope, Councils, ordinary and universal Magisterium) is not above the Word of God, but beneath it, subject to it, and being only the servant of it (of the oral Word of God = Sacred Tradition and of the written Word of God = Sacred Scripture).

From an objective point of view, the statements of the Magisterium (Popes and councils) of definitive character, have more value and more weight compared with the statements of pastoral character, which have naturally a changeable and temporary quality depending on historical circumstances or responding to pastoral situations of a certain period of time, as it is the case with the major part of the statements of Vatican II.

The original and valuable contribution of the Vatican II consists in the universal call to holiness of all members of the Church (chap. 5 of Lumen gentium), in the doctrine about the central role of Our Lady in the life of the Church (chap. 8 of Lumen gentium), in the importance of the lay faithful in maintaining, defending and promoting the Catholic faith and in their duty to evangelize and sanctify the temporal realities according to the perennial sense of the Church (chap. 4 of Lumen gentium), in the primacy of the adoration of God in the life of the Church and in the celebration of the liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium, nn. 2; 5-10). The rest one can consider to a certain extent secondary, temporary and, in the future, probably forgettable, as it was the case with some non-definitive, pastoral and disciplinary statements of various ecumenical councils in the past.

The following issues – Our Lady, sanctification of the personal life of the faithful with the sanctification of the world according to the perennial sense of the Church and the primacy of the adoration of God – are the most urgent aspects which have to be lived in our days. Therein Vatican II has a prophetical role which, unfortunately, is not yet realized in a satisfactory manner.

Instead of living these four aspects, a considerable part of the theological and administrative “nomenclature” in the life of the Church promoted for the past 50 years and still promotes ambiguous doctrinal, pastoral and liturgical issues, distorting thereby the original intention of the Council or abusing its less clear or ambiguous doctrinal statements in order to create another church – a church of a relativistic or Protestant type.

In our days, we are experiencing the culmination of this development.

The problem of the current crisis of the Church consists partly in the fact that some statements of Vatican II – which are objectively ambiguous or those few statements, which are difficultly concordant with the constant magisterial tradition of the Church – have been infallibilisized. In this way, a healthy debate with a necessarily implicit or tacit correction was blocked.

At the same time there was given the incentive in creating theological affirmations in contrast with the perennial tradition (e.g. regarding the new theory of an ordinary double supreme subject of the government of the Church, i.e. the Pope alone and the entire episcopal college together with the Pope, the doctrine of the neutrality of the state towards the public worship, which it must pay to the true God, who is Jesus Christ, the King also of each human and political society, the relativizing of the truth that the Catholic Church is the unique way of salvation, wanted and commanded by God).

We must free ourselves from the chains of the absolutization and of the total infallibilization of Vatican II. We must ask for a climate of a serene and respectful debate out of a sincere love for the Church and for the immutable faith of the Church.

We can see a positive indication in the fact that on August 2, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI wrote a preface to the volume regarding Vatican II in the edition of his Opera omnia. In this preface, Benedict XVI expresses his reservations regarding specific content in the documents Gaudium et spes and Nostra aetate. From the tenor of these words of Benedict XVI one can see that concrete defects in certain sections of the documents are not improvable by the “hermeneutics of the continuity.”

An SSPX, canonically and fully integrated in the life of the Church, could also give a valuable contribution in this debate – as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre desired. The fully canonical presence of the SSPX in the life of the Church of our days could also help to create a general climate of  constructive debate, in order that that, which was believed always, everywhere and by all Catholics for 2,000 years, would be believed in a more clear and in a more sure manner in our days as well, realizing thereby the true pastoral intention of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council.

The authentic pastoral intention aims towards the eternal salvation of the souls — a salvation which will be achieved only through the proclamation of the entire will of God (cf. Act 20: 7). The ambiguity in the doctrine of the faith and in its concrete application (in the liturgy and in the pastoral life) would menace the eternal salvation of the souls and would be consequently anti-pastoral, since the proclamation of the clarity and of the integrity of the Catholic faith and of its faithful concrete application is the explicit will of God.

Only the perfect obedience to the will of God — Who revealed us through Christ the Incarnate Word and through the Apostles the true faith, the faith interpreted and practiced constantly in the same sense by the Magisterium of the Church – will bring the salvation of souls.

+ Athanasius Schneider,

Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan

More Interesting Coincidences

I’ve written before about interesting coincidences, ones that mark 2016 and 2017 as rather portentous years (see here), and ones that point to St. Michael the Archangel’s influence in human history (see here).  Here are some more coincidences…

There are various significant anniversaries occurring in 2017:

  • 1917 – the warnings of Our Lady at Fátima, and the Russian Revolutions,
  • 1717 – the crowning of Our Lady of Czestochowa (pronounced like Chesta-hoe-va), and the founding (in London) of the first Grand Lodge of the Freemasons
  • 1517 – Martin Luther’s protest which led to the Reformation

wallpaper-1492818_1280

Most of you have probably heard that there is going to be a total solar eclipse over North America on the 21st August 2017.  This is the date of the Feast of Our Lady of Knock, and it also marks the start of a forty day preparation for the Jewish feast of Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement.  This year Yom Kippur also happens to land on the Catholic feast of St Michael the Archangel.  Some Catholics undertake a period of fasting starting on the Solemnity of the Assumption (15th August), called St. Michael’s Lent, in order to prepare for this feast.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have undertaken this fast because he was devoted to St. Michael.  It seems to me that 2017 would be a great year to undertake St. Michael’s Lent, and to prepare to do some atoning.

Gloria

I had a terrible sleepless night last night.

And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep.  And they came to him, and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish.  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.  But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?

But now the storm is over (my own personal one anyway – I still feel the world storm looming).  Thanks be to God.  The following music came up randomly on my player at a very appropriate moment; enjoy:

gloria

Image from Pixabay

Decision Making

This sermon by Father David Nix discusses how a Catholic should go about making good decisions.  In doing so it also touches on consolation and desolation in prayer, and the peace that only God can give.  Supporting text here and here.

More on Mental Prayer

For reference, here is a link to my first post about mental prayer.  There is a lot of good information there for people who are interested in Christian meditation.  I am growing more convinced that, while Buddhist meditation is helpful for non-believers, it is dangerous for believers to rely too heavily on these methods.  Sure, many of the things I learned as a Buddhist are helpful on my new path but I have tried to leave behind anything that conflicts with a God-centred approach.  We cannot become truly enlightened if we ignore our Creator.  The Church has all the tools Christians need if we can just find them and use them diligently.

I am posting this for my own records, and to provide some supplementary information for those who want to see more.  The first video serves as an introduction to the second.  You can probably watch the second without watching the first one but I wouldn’t recommend it.  The videos only seem to have one audio channel working so I’ve found it best to watch them on a tablet without headphones.

Here is a link to the resource mentioned in the second video.  It appears that the transcriptions there are not quite all finished yet.  However, the scanned image of the source book is there as well, so you can see the original version of the missing texts.

Dublin Rally For Life 2017

The organisers told us that there were 80,000 of us.  I’m not sure about that but there was certainly a great turnout.  Please take the time to watch the video in this article on the rally in the Irish Times.  It’s important for all nations to see what’s going on here.

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Save the 8th

placard

My home-made placard

There’s going to be a referendum in Ireland soon.  The pro-choice lobby wants Ireland to repeal the 8th Amendment to its Constitution, thereby removing the right to life of the unborn child.  I’m hoping to attend a pro-life rally in Dublin on Saturday.  One of the speakers will be Karen Gaffney.  If this amazing woman had been born in Britain in the current pro-choice climate she would have only had a 10% chance of escaping death by abortion.  If her mother was Icelandic she wouldn’t have been born at all.  She has Down Syndrome.  If you want to find out more try here or here.

Yes, I know my placard is wonky. 😦 That’s because sticky-back plastic is my nemesis.  I borrowed the board and most of the graphics from the Guadalupe Centre in Knock which provides pro-life resources through Human Life International.

Update: If you’d like to sign a petition calling for the referendum to be scrapped, click here.

 

DIY Chaplet

You’ve probably all seen a set of rosary beads, even if it’s just on the telly.  Different sets of prayers can be said using a standard set of beads but some sets of prayers need a different arrangement of beads, which are called chaplets.  Here are some of my sets of beads:

rosaries

The one on the left is a standard rosary.  It glows in the dark, making it easy to find at night.  The blue set is for a set of prayers called the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I only use the black set once a year.  It’s mentioned in the video below which explains the difference between rosaries and chaplets:

I wanted a new set of beads for saying the Chaplet of the Holy Face but I didn’t think they would have a set in my local shops so I decided to make one.  I only had tiny beads so I wondered if I could make beads using knots or crochet.  The crochet ones I found were a bit naff but I found some terrific videos on how to make knotted rosaries (see below for one of these videos).  However, I didn’t have thick enough cord so my attempts were an absolute mess.

Then I had more than one hint that it is the quality of prayer, not the quantity, that matters so I dropped the whole idea for a while.  The need to pray the Chaplet didn’t go away though so I prayed to Our Lady that if she approved of me praying the Chaplet then I would need to be given beads.  A couple of days later I was given three old rosaries that were no longer wanted – so I now had lots of beads.  I took that as a sign that I should make my own chaplet, and here it is:

holyfacechaplet

Interestingly, when I showed it to my husband he asked me pointedly where I’d got the Holy Face medal from.  I admitted sheepishly that I had found it in our icon corner (a communal prayer space in our house) and had used it without asking.  He didn’t mind but he was asking because when he knelt for prayer at a church* where they have Perpetual Adoration he found a Holy Face medal by his knee.  He knows my interest in the Holy Face devotion so he brought it home.  When one asks Our Lady for something she certainly doesn’t hold back!

*This church is in Tooreen where the devil is reputed to have paid a visit to the Dance Hall in the Fifties.  (The Dance Hall is still there, I’ve had tea and nibbles there.)

Adam And Eve Were Vegan…

…until they messed everything up and got kicked out of the Garden.  We were meant to be gardeners not farmers.  The Garden of Eden is the model of what God originally intended for mankind.  He wanted to walk with us in the Garden.  People often quote the parts of Genesis where God gives us dominion over the natural world but they ignore the part where we are told:

Here are all the herbs, God told them, that seed on earth, and all the trees, that carry in them the seeds of their own life, to be your food; food for all the beasts of the earth, all that flies in the air, all that creeps along the ground; here all that lives shall find its nourishment.

Coecke van Aelst, Pieter (follower) - The Fall of Man - Google Art ProjectWhen God gave us dominion over the natural world He wanted us to be responsible custodians not exploitative tyrants.  He gave us everything we needed – water and plants and fruit of the trees – to sustain ourselves and the creatures under our care.  There was just one fruit that was off limits.  God gave mankind free will and relied on us to make the right decision.  However, we failed, and the fallen world can no longer sustain us with ease.  God tells Adam:

Thou hast listened to thy wife’s counsel, and hast eaten the fruit I forbade thee to eat; and now, through thy act, the ground is under a curse.  All the days of thy life thou shalt win food from it with toil; thorns and thistles it shall yield thee, this ground from which thou dost win thy food.  Still thou shalt earn thy bread with the sweat of thy brow; until thou goest back into the ground from which thou wast taken; dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Notice that God still doesn’t say that we will need to eat animals to survive.  He doesn’t give permission for us to do that until after the great flood of Noah’s time.  I’m not a saint, a theologian or a Bible scholar so I don’t know why He did that.  Maybe the earth was just no longer able to support man on a vegan diet at that stage.

Now for those of you who are thinking that surely God didn’t mind people killing animals because He expected sacrifices, in fact, He didn’t actually like them or want them.  God tolerates our weaknesses out of love but when He deems that we can do better He asks more from us.  For example, in Matthew 19:8 we hear Jesus explaining why divorce was permitted in the past but not under the New Covenant:

It was to suit your hard hearts that Moses allowed you to put your wives away; it was not so at the beginning of things.

It is not a sin to eat meat and animal products; even Christ had to eat the same diet as His contemporaries.  But now that we have progressed, the Western world could probably support a vegan lifestyle for us all.  God does not require us to be vegan, but given that many of us are now able to do so, I think we should.  Vegans have much less of an environmental impact than meat-eaters.  For the sake of the animals and the environment that God put into our care, and for the poor who are often exploited for the sake of meat production, we should at least work towards it.  I’m not trying to be holier than thou; I know it’s hard.  I’ve been vegetarian for over twenty years but, even though I decided it was the right way to live a few years ago, I still struggle with veganism.

If you want information on how to make the switch you could start here, and if you need more convincing you could visit Stacey’s informative blog, Our Compass.

Moderates Can’t Defend Their Position