(LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider on Friday reiterated his call for Pope Francis to restore faculties to priests of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) to offer Holy Mass.
Schneider expressed his hope that Pope Francis would continue steps toward “fuller canonical regularization” for the SSPX in a podcast discussion with Aurelio Porfiri, who has co-authored a book on the Mass together with the Kazakhstan bishop. Schneider noted that he has already “suggested” to the Holy See that the SSPX be given “faculties to celebrate … the Holy Mass.”
He pointed out that such a recognition would remove “remorse of conscience” thatprevents many Catholics from attending Masses offered by the SSPX. Already, said Schneider, Francis has given the SSPX two faculties that “are very important for pastoral life”: the faculties of confession and conditional faculties to celebrate marriages.
Porfiri then steered the conversation toward the topic of the bishops’ general hostility toward the traditional Latin Mass. While Schneider welcomed the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP)’s recently confirmed exemptions from the provisions of Traditionis Custodes, he acknowledged that bishops can still take out their hostility toward the Latin Mass on communities entrusted to diocesan clergy.
Schneider referred to the bishops as “scared.”
“They are scared of what?” Porfiri asked.
According to Schneider, the bishops would say they are afraid of a “growth of rigidity” in Latin Mass attendees and “of the rejection” of the Second Vatican Council.
“But ultimately these two arguments are a pretext, because they know these young people have nothing against Vatican II, usually, and these young people are truly not rigid, they are normal people, and joyful, cheerful,” Schneider said.
He said the bishops “have to admit, if they are serious and authentic … that their hostility is based on their hatred of tradition itself — what the Church believed, what the Church celebrated before the council. So they want to make a break,” a “total” “rupture.”
When Porfiri asked Schneider about how the Vatican should deal with sedevecantists, who generally believe the papacy has been unoccupied, or vacant, since about the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, Schneider said he believes the “Holy See also has the pastoral duty to approach” them.
Schneider said the “ecumenical dialogue” with which the Vatican has been “very much engaged” in with the orthodox in past decades should, if the Holy See is being consistent, be extended to sedevacantists, since they are “closer to us than the orthodox,” and “do not deny any dogma directly,” including the dogma of the primacy of the pope.
The Orthodox, on the other hand, “formally” deny this “divinely revealed truth.”
Schneider suggested that “just” dealings with sedevacantists must “take into account mitigating circumstances.” He attributes their stance to “the crisis of the Church,” which he said “authorities of the Holy See” have “contributed” to.
He thinks an effort to approach sedevacantists, however, “would be only possible when in Rome, Divine Providence will grant again strong and courageous … orthodox popes, who proclaim and promote the complete integrity of the Catholic faith, liturgy and morals.”
Schneider also decried defections from Catholicism to the Orthodox position motivated by disappointment with the current state of the Catholic Church.
Speaking to those who convert to the Orthodox religion, Schneider said, “You are damaging your faith, you are contrary to the will of God,” because to become Orthodox, “you have to deny a divine revealed truth,” that is, “The primacy of Peter and his successors … ”
“This is very serious,” he said, adding that the Orthodox church has other “serious errors,” such as acceptance of divorce, and a lack of “clear teaching” on the immorality of contraception.
“It is not [necessary] … to go to the orthodox church. At least you can go to the SSPX, where there is the integrity of the faith, and the liturgy,” Schneider said.
Bishop Schneider’s perspective on the SSPX question is especially informed because he was asked by the Vatican to make an official visit to SSPX seminaries on behalf of the Holy See. He visited two SSPX seminaries in 2015 and shared his observations with the news service Adalente la Fe.
“To my knowledge there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition,” he said. Bishop Schneider noted “the SSPX believes, worship and conducts a moral life as it was demanded and recognized by the Supreme Magisterium and was observed universally in the Church during a centuries long period.”
The bishop also noted that “the SSPX recognizes the legitimacy of the Pope and the diocesan bishops and prays for them publicly and recognizes also the validity of the sacraments according to the editio typica of the new liturgical books.”
His conclusion was “This should suffice for a canonical recognition of the SSPX on behalf of the Holy See.”