November 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan has added his voice of support to the four Cardinals who have been slammed by prelates as “witless worm[s],” “troublesome,” and heretics and apostates after they asked Pope Francis to clarify key moral passages in the exhortation Amoris Laetitia.
“In publishing a plea for clarity in a matter that touches the truth and the sanctity simultaneously of the three sacraments of Marriage, Penance, and the Eucharist, the four Cardinals only did their basic duty as bishops and cardinals, which consists in actively contributing so that the revelation transmitted through the Apostles might be guarded sacredly and might be faithfully interpreted,” wrote the bishop in an open letter published today by Rorate Caeli.
Schneider stated that in voicing their concerns to the Pope, the Cardinals have “merely stated real facts in the life of the Church.”
“These facts are demonstrated by pastoral orientations on behalf of several dioceses and by public statements of some bishops and cardinals, who affirm that in some cases divorced and remarried Catholics can be admitted to Holy Communion even though they continue to use the rights reserved by Divine law to validly married spouses,” he wrote.
It was in September that the Cardinals submitted the “dubia” to the pope, a set of five yes-or-no questions that seeks to clarify whether Amoris Laetitia is at odds with Catholic moral teaching.
Specifically, they ask: 1) whether adulterers can receive Holy Communion; 2) whether there are absolute moral norms that must be followed “without exceptions;” 3) if habitual adultery is an “objective situation of grave habitual sin;” 4) whether an intrinsically evil act can be turned into a “‘subjectively’ good” act based on “circumstances or intentions;” and 5) if, based on “conscience,” one can act contrary to known “absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts.”
The Cardinals went public with their “dubia” last week after the pope failed to reply to their questions. They received immediate backlash from high ranking prelates, including newly minted Cardinals Blase Cupich and Thomas Tobin, and were openly mocked by lesser ones, including Jesuit priest Fr. Antonio Spadaro — often described as Pope Francis' "mouthpiece" — who referred to them as “witless worm[s].”
Earlier this week, retired Roman Catholic Greek bishop Frangiskos Papamanolis ripped the cardinals for committing the sins of “apostasy” and “scandal,” saying they receive Holy Communion “sacrilegiously” for raising concerns about the pope’s document.
Bishop Schneider said he had "great astonishment" for what he called the “unusually violent and intolerant” nature of the backlash, adding that such reaction runs contrary to the Pope’s call for “dialogue and acceptance of legitimate plurality of opinions.”
“Such apodictic merciless judgments reveal not only intolerance, refusal of dialogue, and irrational rage but demonstrate also a surrender to the impossibility of speaking the truth, a surrender to relativism in doctrine and practice, in faith and life,” he said.
Schneider said the “violent reaction” has only one aim: “to silence the voice of the truth, which is disturbing and annoying the apparently peaceful nebulous ambiguity of these clerical critics.”
He noted how in previous ages, faithful bishops would be exiled — such as the Nicene bishops during the Arian crisis — whereas today “exile of the bishops is replaced by hush-up strategies and by slander campaigns.”
The bishop stated that history would remember the four Cardinals’ “prophetic voice” in the face of doctrinal and practical confusion.
“The Four Cardinals with their prophetic voice demanding doctrinal and pastoral clarity have a great merit before their own conscience, before history, and before the innumerable simple faithful Catholics of our days, who are driven to the ecclesiastical periphery, because of their fidelity to Christ’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage,” he said.
“But above all, the Four Cardinals have a great merit in the eyes of Christ. Because of their courageous voice, their names will shine brightly at the Last Judgment,” he added.
Schneider’s defense of the Cardinals comes on the heels of a similar one by Auxiliary Bishop Józef Wróbel of Lublin, Poland, who stated that the cardinals were “right to ask for clarification.”
“They have done well and they have exercised correctly the provisions of canon law. I think it is not only a right, but even a duty. It would have been just to answer to their observations. They asked no questions about the next day’s weather, but on issues concerning the Church’s teaching and therefore the faithful,” he stated earlier this week.