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Kazakhstan Bishop Athanasius Schneider

March 30, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider has stated that a priest, using discretion and following the necessary health precautions “has not to obey the directives of his bishop or the government to suspend Mass for the faithful.” He also described the COVID-19 pandemic as a chastisement and a purification.

Directives canceling all public Masses “are a pure human law; however, the supreme law in the Church is the salvation of souls,” said the auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan, in an interview with traditional Catholic newspaper The Remnant.

“Priests in such a situation have to be extremely creative in order to provide for the faithful, even for a small group, the celebration of Holy Mass and the reception of the sacraments. Such was the pastoral behavior of all confessor and martyr priests in the time of persecution,” he added.

Being prohibited by ecclesial authority from visiting the sick and the dying would also be a reason for a priest to disobey, Schneider explained. “Such a prohibition is an abuse of power. Christ did not give a bishop the power to forbid visiting the sick and dying. A true priest will do everything he can to visit a dying person.”

Schneider also called out “the prevailing majority of bishops” for having reacted “precipitously and out of panic in prohibiting all public Masses and – what is even more incomprehensible – in closing churches.”

“Such bishops,” he said, “reacted more like civil bureaucrats than shepherds. In focusing too exclusively on all the hygienic protective measures, they have lost a supernatural vision and have abandoned the primacy of the eternal good of souls.”

“A quasi-pathological fear has overcome common reason and a supernatural vision,” Schneider exclaimed.

Attending Mass is as essential as shopping at grocery stores or using public transportation, both of which have not been shut down, the bishop pointed out. “One could guarantee in churches the same and even better hygienic protective measures.”

He also gave some practical advice. “For example, before each Mass one could disinfect the pews and doors, and everyone who enters the church could disinfect their hands. Other similar measures could also be taken. One could limit the number of participants and increase the frequency of Mass celebration.”

On March 21, Cardinal Raymond Burke had equally criticized the suspension of public Masses.

“Even as we have found a way to provide for food and medicine and other necessities of life during a time of contagion, without irresponsibly risking the spread of the contagion, so, in a similar way, we can find a way to provide for the necessities of our spiritual life,” the American cardinal said in a statement.

Bishop Schneider characterized the Catholic response to the COVID-19 pandemic as “revealing the loss of supernatural vision.”

For decades, “many members of the Church’s hierarchy have been immersed predominantly in secular, inner-worldly and temporal affairs and have thus become blind to supernatural and eternal realities.” Accordingly, their reaction “has revealed that they give more importance to the mortal body than to the immortal soul of men.”

Many of the bishops who “tranquilly allowed the poison virus of heretical teachings and practices to spread among their flock,” are now attempting to protect the faithful “from contamination with a material virus.”

Schneider called the coronavirus pandemic “a divine intervention to chastise and purify the sinful world and also the Church.” Other Catholic leaders have offered similar assessments.

The bishop quoted from the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. “I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching … that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.”

“I am convinced,” Schneider added, “that Christ would repeat the same words to Pope Francis and to the other bishops who allowed the idolatrous veneration of the Pachamama and who implicitly approved sexual relationships outside a valid marriage, by allowing the so-called ‘divorced and remarried’ who are sexually active to receive Holy Communion.”

The bishop, who first grew up in the Soviet Union before coming to Germany in 1973, said the current situation “is so unique and serious that one can discover behind all of this a deeper meaning.”

Receiving Holy Communion in the hand, a practice first introduced roughly 50 years ago, “has led to an unintentional and intentional desecration [of] the Eucharistic Body of Christ on an unprecedented scale. For over fifty years, the Body of Christ had been (mostly unintentionally) trampled by the feet of clergy and laity in Catholic churches around the world. The stealing of sacred Hosts has also been increasing at an alarming rate.”

According to Schneider, taking the Eucharist “directly with one’s own hands and fingers resembles ever more the gesture of taking common food.”

For many people, he said, this practice led to a weakened faith in the real presence. “The Eucharistic presence of Christ has, over time, unconsciously become for these faithful a kind of holy bread or symbol.”

The current situation, wherein many parts of the world no public Masses are said, and Holy Communion cannot be received by the faithful, “could be understood by the Pope and bishops as a divine rebuke for the past fifty years of Eucharistic desecrations and trivializations and, at the same time, as a merciful appeal for an authentic Eucharistic conversion of the entire Church.”

Schneider expressed his wish that the Holy Spirit may “touch the heart of the Pope and bishops and move them to issue concrete liturgical norms in order that the Eucharistic worship of the entire Church might be purified and oriented again towards the Lord.”

The bishop called on Pope Francis to prohibit the reception of Holy Communion in the hand. He also suggested the Holy Father, as well as cardinals and bishops, “carry out a public act of reparation in Rome for the sins against the Holy Eucharist, and for the sin of the acts of religious veneration to the Pachamama statues.”

Schneider encouraged the Pope to issue “concrete liturgical norms, in which he invites the entire Church to turn again towards the Lord in the manner of celebration.”

The bishop called for more Eucharistic processions, even if the priest cannot be accompanied by any faithful. “A worldwide chain of monstrances carrying the Eucharistic Lord through the streets of this world could be launched,” Schneider said. “Such mini-Eucharistic processions, even if carried out only by a bishop or a priest alone, will implore graces of physical and spiritual healing and conversion.”