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Bishop Athanasius Schneider at the Rome Life Forum, Rome, 2018.

(LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider has responded to Pope Francis’ suggestion that the Ten Commandments are not absolute, describing the Pope’s words as contradictory to Scripture and following the teaching of the heresiarch Martin Luther.

In exclusive comments to LifeSiteNews, Schneider highlighted two key problems with the Pope’s denial of the binding nature of the Decalogue. First that they contradict an encyclical of Pope John Paul II, and second that they contradict the express teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).

The problematic affirmation was declared by the Pope in his general audience Wednesday: “Do I despise the Commandments? No. I observe them, but not as absolute, because I know that what justifies me is Jesus Christ.”

The Pope’s remarks were made in answer to a self-ascribed question on whether he lives in fear “that if I don’t do this or that I will go to hell?”

Commenting on these words, Schneider noted, in no uncertain terms, that Francis’ statement “contradicts the teaching of the Church and is very much a kind of sola fide teaching of Martin Luther.”

The auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, explained that the Pope’s affirmation also “contradicts the encyclical Veritatis Splendor of Pope John Paul II.”

Schneider quoted Francis’ predecessor, who wrote that “[i]n the Old Testament we already find admirable witnesses of fidelity to the holy law of God even to the point of a voluntary acceptance of death. A prime example is the story of Susanna: in reply to the two unjust judges who threatened to have her condemned to death if she refused to yield to their sinful passion, she says: ‘I am hemmed in on every side. For if I do this thing, it is death for me; and if I do not, I shall not escape your hands. I choose not to do it and to fall into your hands, rather than to sin in the sight of the Lord!’ (Dan 13:22-23).”

“Susanna, preferring to ‘fall innocent’ into the hands of the judges,” the late pontiff’s words continue, “bears witness not only to her faith and trust in God but also to her obedience to the truth and to the absoluteness of the moral order.”

Schneider noted that the CCC also clearly contradicts the recent utterances of Pope Francis, teaching that Christians are always bound by the proscription of the Law. CCC entry number 2072, he emphasized, states: “The Ten Commandments are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them.”

Also on Wednesday, Pope Francis released a video in which he urged people worldwide to take one of the experimental COVID-19 vaccines. Francis failed to mention the connection between the vaccines and historic abortions, but instead referred to receiving a COVID-19 jab as “an act of love.”

Francis added that assisting others to take the abortion-tainted jabs is also “an act of love. Love for oneself, love for our families and friends, and love for all peoples.”