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Bishop Athanasius Schneider speaks with LifeSiteNews on October 24, 2019.Claire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

November 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, praised as an “act of true charity” a statement by over 100 priests and lay scholars who called on Pope Francis to repent for the idolatry of Pachamama that took place during the Amazon Synod. 

In a new interview with the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost, Bishop Schneider praised the “Protest against Pope Francis' Sacrilegious Acts” with regard to the pagan ceremonies that took place in the Vatican during the October 6-27  Pan-Amazon Synod. The statement of protest, published on November 12, has now been signed by nearly 200 priests and lay scholars.

Speaking with Regina Einig, Schneider explained that “the public appeal without doubt serves the salvation of souls.” 

“In front of the eyes of the entire world,” he explained, “and in the presence of the Pope, there were conducted clear acts of religious adoration of symbols and statues of the pagan, indigenous, South-American religions, the so-called 'Pachamama.'”

Bishop Schneider also pointed out that the Pope “has even justified” the presence of these pagan idols in the Catholic church in Traspontina, and that “he has apologized” for their being removed from there and being thrown into the Tiber river.

“Such conduct of the highest Church authority which does not only not forbid the symbols of pagan religions and their worship, but, rather, even justifies them, causes a great damage for the salvation of souls, because thereby the First Commandment is being undermined and in practical terms is being rescinded,” Schneider said. 

“Therefore,” he added, “the public appeal in question is an act of profession of faith and of a fraternal warning against a great danger to the salvation of souls, and it is therefore finally an act of true charity.” 

Bishop Schneider also provided reasons for why he did not sign the statement himself. He said the laity are called upon to raise “freely their voice in important questions of the life of the Church.” “The more the confusion in the life of the Church increases,” he explained, “the more we can perceive the role of the laity, who work without human respect for the defense of the truth of Christ's teaching and of God's Commandments.” And they do so, he added, “even if they are being ridiculed for their initiative by the Church's establishment.”

Schneider noted that “such courageous laymen today swim against the stream” with regard to the currently predominant way of thinking in the Church “which is really being brought in line with the spirit of the unbelieving world.” He called it “clericalism” that these laymen are being treated so harshly and unmercifully by “influential Church leaders.” 

Additionally, Schneider pointed out that he had already issued his own criticism of the Pachamama veneration in Rome, adding that he “would have written the appeal, in some parts, in a more respectful tone.” 

Bishop Schneider also commented on the fact that Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, Germany, had publicly distanced himself from the protest. Voderholzer had criticized the pagan worship in the Vatican, but did not want to be associated with an initiative that was critical of the Pope. The statement against the pagan worship had mentioned his name as one of the bishops who criticized the recent events in Rome.

Schneider stated: “The Pope is not God, after all. He is not sinless. The Pope is a sinner like all of us. The great saints were grateful when they were admonished and called to repentance.”

Since the Church is like a family, the Kazakh prelate continued, a father “can be called to penance by his children in obviously well-reasoned cases, and this for the sake of his own salvation and that of the entire family.” 

“The Church is not a dictatorship,” Schneider added and referred to St. Hildegard von Bingen and St. Catherine of Siena as saints who reprimanded a pope. “I am convinced,” he continued, “that, in the face of the gravity of the case that took place in the Vatican, where one at least has to speak of acts that are close to idolatry, these holy women would have given their voice also a public character.”

Bishop Schneider goes on to say that attempts of the last years to speak with the Pope in private “have not been successful.” As an example, he referred to the fact that Pope Francis “avoided” the four dubia cardinals who had asked him “repeatedly for a private discussion of the topic of the admittance of the so-called remarried divorcees to Holy Communion.” 

Finally, Bishop Schneider pointed out that he has had a private discussion with Pope Francis – orally and in writing – with regard to the “erroneous statement on the diversity of religions in the Abu Dhabi Statement, but finally without result.” The prelate pointed out, moreover, that Pope Francis, after these private discussions, “established a 'High Committee' for the implementation of the Abu Dhabi Statement, and this was done without any necessary correction of the [earlier] statement which claims that God purportedly wills the diversity of religions, just as He wishes the diversity of sexes and of peoples.” 

“When it is aflame in the house, then time-consuming discussions are not helpful; then everybody in the house can and must warn against the danger, precisely out of love for the good of the whole,” he said. 

In the November 12 statement by priests and lay scholars, the signatories called upon the Pope to “repent publicly and unambiguously of these objectively grave sins” of public pagan worship and asked bishops around the world to “offer fraternal correction to Pope Francis for these scandals.”

They rebuked Pope Francis for having participated and supported different pagan ceremonies in the Vatican during the Amazon Synod and thus “protest against and condemn the sacrilegious and superstitious acts committed by Pope Francis, the Successor of Peter, in connection with the recent Amazon Synod held in Rome.” 

Most prominently among these ceremonies, there took place a pagan ceremony on October 4 in the Vatican Gardens, at which Pope Francis participated and at which he actually blessed one of these pagan Pachamama idols. He was later to explicitly call these statues “Pachamama statues.”

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.