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(LifeSiteNews) — There is so much confusion in the Church these days. What was perennially held as true is at times dismissed or set aside, and even from the very office of the papacy we see things that can only be described as contradictory to the deposit of faith.

Joining me for Part 1 of this special two-part episode of The John-Henry Westen Show is Bishop Athanasius Schneider. We discuss the Francis pontificate in depth and his new book, Credo: A Compendium of the Catholic Faith.

Bp. Schneider explains that the laity have the right to ask their pastors to be nourished with the milk of sound doctrine, using an analogy from St. Caesarius of Arles, a Church Father. According to St. Caesarius, the laity can petition the hierarchy to transmit the faith to them in the same sense as it was always understood, perhaps addressing bishops with examples of traditional catechisms, such as the Baltimore Catechism. Even so, the faithful can themselves pass on the traditional faith through modern means such as conferences and through the internet.

Schneider stresses that the Church “is not an NGO” (a non-governmental organization) nor a “political party,” and that the pope receives his power directly from God. “This is Catholic doctrine, and therefore nobody of the Church, no cardinals, no council, can declare the pope deposed because of some crimes – let us say, moral crimes or doctrinal crimes; in this case, supporting heresy,” he emphasizes.

Further examining the problem of a heretical pope further, Schneider points to the fact that the pope can only be infallible when speaking ex cathedra – that is, with the intent of defining a matter of faith and morals for the whole Church to believe. This exercise of the papal office, which forms part of the Church’s extraordinary magisterium, will always be infallible because of the assistance of the Holy Ghost.

However, the pope is not necessarily protected from error in his ordinary or daily magisterium. In history it is a rare occurrence, but it can happen if the pope is not prayerful, obedient to Tradition, or taking good counsel, Schneider tells me. He further stresses that the Church is stronger than an “erring pope” and can “endure” even in a time when the pope is propagating heresy.

Schneider further stresses that the problem of the Francis pontificate should be looked at from the vantage point of eternity; the Church is neither in the hands of Pope Francis nor ours, but in those of Jesus Christ, and therefore only He can resolve the problems of the current pontificate. To attempt to fix the problem ourselves will only exacerbate the problem, with the potential rise of antipopes.

“I think this is one of the heaviest crosses which God can lay upon our shoulders, this pontificate,” Schneider says. “But in the end, at the same time, we have to pray for Pope Francis, that he may be illuminated, that he may gain and obtain the grace, as John XXII obtained before he died, to repent, to retract.”

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this fascinating conversation with Bishop Schneider, where I ask him penetrating questions about St. John Paul II’s Universi Dominici Gregis and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s argument that Catholics must seriously consider the possibility of Francis not being the pope. You won’t want to miss it. But for now, here is Part 1:

The John-Henry Westen Show is available by video on the show’s YouTube channel and right here on my LifeSite blog.

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John-Henry is the co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of He and his wife Dianne have eight children and they live in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada.

He has spoken at conferences and retreats, and appeared on radio and television throughout the world. John-Henry founded the Rome Life Forum, an annual strategy meeting for life, faith and family leaders worldwide. He is a board member of the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family. He is a consultant to Canada’s largest pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, and serves on the executive of the Ontario branch of the organization. He has run three times for political office in the province of Ontario representing the Family Coalition Party.

John-Henry earned an MA from the University of Toronto in School and Child Clinical Psychology and an Honours BA from York University in Psychology.