(LifeSiteNews) — In Part 3 of John-Henry Westen’s interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the bishop encouraged traditional faithful to stay strong in the faith, even under conditions of persecution since the publication of the apostolic letter Traditionis Custodes. He trusts that the fidelity of these Catholics will “bring many fruits” to the Church.
John-Henry Westen asked the auxiliary bishop of Kazakhstan what a life in the underground of the Church might look like. Here Bishop Schneider referred back to the fourth century, where there was once a situation where “the majority [of bishops] persecuted true Catholics who kept the tradition of faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” These Catholics, he went on to say, “were expelled” and had to go to “open air Masses.”
The Kazakh bishop drew then a parallel to today, “where people are cast out literally from the parish churches where they had, for several years, the traditional Latin Mass approved by Pope Benedict XVI and by the local bishops.”
These traditional Catholics of today are now “forced to seek new places of worship, gyms, schools or halls and so on,” he explained, comparing this situation with “a kind of catacomb situation,” even though so far these Catholics are still able to have public Masses outside of official church structures.
For Bishop Schneider, these new measures in the wake of Traditionis Custodes represent an “unjust treatment of these Catholics in our day by the Vatican, by the Pope Francis orders, and by the bishops.”
But at the same time, such a persecution has “in the history of the Church brought many blessings and strengthened more the faith of these people,” the bishop of German descent is convinced. The “fidelity of these faithful,” he added, is “bringing many fruits for the entire Church.”
The prelate then touched upon the important question of obedience, which he just recently elaborated in a text published by LifeSite: There exists, according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, a “limited obedience.” That is to say, “when the pope or the bishops are commanding something which will evidently undermine the fullness of the Catholic faith and the fullness of the Catholic liturgy … we are harming the entire Church. We are decreasing the good of the Church, the spiritual good of the Church. We are decreasing the good of our souls. And here we cannot collaborate.”
In such cases where the faith is at stake, “we are even obliged — not only we can, in some occasions, we must — to say to the Holy Father, to the bishop: ‘With all due respect and love for you, we cannot execute these orders which you are giving because they are harming the good of our Holy Mother Church.’”
In such a case, the prelate explained, we have to “be in some way formally disobedient, but in fact we will be obedient to our Holy Mother Church, which is greater than a singular pope.”
“We are obedient to the popes of all ages who promoted, defended, protected the purity of Catholic faith, unconditionally, uncompromisingly, and who defended also the sacredness and the unchanging liturgy of the holy Mass through the centuries,” he said. Later in the discussion, Bishop Schneider added that the traditional Sacraments are part of this good to be defended.
In a similar vein, when speaking about the current promotion of the LGBT agenda within the Catholic Church, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has also declared that “one does not have to obey an obviously heretical bishop just for reasons of formal fidelity,” adding that disobedience can be justified when related “strictly to the revealed truth.”
John-Henry Westen inquired how priests who adhere to the traditional Roman rite of the Mass and of the sacraments are to act, since they are even more bound to their bishops by the law of obedience than lay faithful.
Calling it a “delicate question,” the prelate explained that it “touches the conscience of these priests. It could be a different answer for every priest.” Some might obey and abandon the traditional Mass, for the sake of remaining in the official structures of the Church. But another option, according to Schneider, “which would be also legitimate,” would be to disobey the bishop and “continue to celebrate the traditional Mass and the sacraments … in a clandestine way or in an official, maybe non-approved way.”
Bishop Schneider insisted that this would only be “a temporary solution.” These priests, moreover, would “have to keep nevertheless their love for their bishop who persecutes them” and pray both for the bishop and the pope in Rome.
Asked by John-Henry Westen as to whether this emergency situation would soon be solved by the election of a good pope, the bishop answered that we do not know God’s time, that “God knows already when He will give again to His Church a strong, hundred percent traditional Catholic Pope.” He insisted that, except for a few popes, all popes, beginning with Saint Peter, were 100% traditional, since “this is inherent to the nature of the papal office to be really 100% a traditional defender of the faith and the sacredness of the holy liturgy.”
Bishop Schneider encouraged the faithful to pray, even in the form of a “world-wide chain of prayers, of rosaries,” to implore God quickly “to grant the Church a true, strong, courageous Catholic pope.”