FRONT ROYAL, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) – In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, Bishop Athanasius Schneider warned of a growing “spirit of communism” in formerly free and Christian western nations.
Bishop Schneider grew up in the former Soviet Union in a German family whose ancestors had settled in the Black Sea region in the 19th century. There were many Germans who settled in that area, and according to the bishop, they were called “Black Sea Germans,” most of them farmers. They brought with them their Catholic faith and culture, amidst an area that was and is largely a mix of Muslims and Eastern Orthodox Christians.
After the Second World War, his parents were “deported by Stalin” into forced labour camps. Eventually his parents regained their freedom and found their way to the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, where Bishop Schneider was born, just south of Kazakhstan, where he now lives. He grew up attending “underground” Catholic churches, as his parents held on to their ancestral faith, even though it was heavily restricted or illegal to practice under the Communist regime that controlled the area.
Schneider told LifeSiteNews reporter Jim Hale that he grew up speaking German, but also spent time in Soviet schools as a youth, and thus he spoke Russian as well. Eventually the family made it to Germany together.
Hale asked the bishop if – given the rise of government restrictions, ostensibly due to COVID – he saw any parallels between what is happening in our part of the world today and what life was like under the Soviet Union.
Schneider said that he did believe there were parallels, even if things did not appear the same on the surface.
“The Soviet Union and other communist countries sought to reduce all … human existence to materialism, to the material aspects of the Earth,” Schneider explained.
“And this is ever more growing since decades in the western world. A culture of materialism… It’s [a] kind of new form of atheism, which is the other pillar of the communist system.”
The bishop believes that a “small group” of the “political elite” is controlling the citizens of the western world, largely through technological means. He voiced concerns about the lack of true property rights in North America and Europe today, by which he means especially the rights of an individual over his own body.
Speaking about coerced vaccination he said, “With this COVID crisis, we see ever more that you are losing even the right to determine your own body. You are losing the right to the property of your own body because the state or the small elite group says we are now the owner of your body.”
He said that the continuation of “COVID rules,” like the insistence on “green passes,” has created a type of “global prison” where everyone is monitored as if in a prison.
The bishop elaborated that, just like under the Soviets, citizens are now treated like children, as if they did not “have enough intellect and reason.” Thus, everyone is told “how to behave” by elites who “use the same terminology” world-wide.
He called the world under COVID mandates a type of “slave society” with a “slave system.”
In addition to social commentary, Bishop Schneider related the crisis in world government to the crisis in the Catholic Church, which he described as having a hierarchy that has been “infiltrated” by the materialist spirit. According to the bishop, the materialist direction of the Vatican can been seen in Rome’s focus on “Mother-Earth.” He remarked that Pope Francis himself is “behaving as if earthly realities, which are material realities” are “above the care of the soul.”
Jim Hale asked the bishops if this stemmed from a utopian ideal consistent with Marxism, which purportedly inspires communists to try “to build a heaven on earth.”
“This is communism, because Marx and Lenin, they said communism is the paradise on earth,” Schneider replied.
“And so this spirit penetrated very much [into] the life of the Church and now in the current agenda of the Holy See, unfortunately.”
To combat the materialist spirit, Schneider encouraged the faithful to “restore the primacy of the soul, of the care of the soul and of the eternal life.” He added that this “is the core of the gospel. And for this, Jesus Christ came to redeem us from our sins… and from eternal damnation and to open the gates to Heaven.”
In the Soviet Union, it was not uncommon for religion to be co-opted by politicians and the state for political gain. Hale asked Bishop Schneider if he thought it was acceptable that self-described “Catholics” Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi receive Holy Communion while promoting anti-life and pro-abortion policies.
Schneider said that there are no circumstances in which a high-profile Catholic who promotes abortion can be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents and publicly retracts his pro-abortion advocacy.
“Never,” he underscored.
The bishop expanded his opinion to any politicians who advocate for behaviour against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“These politicians, when they openly promote abortion or same sex marriages, they are they are not in union with the teaching of the Church,” Schneider said.
“And so how can they… say ‘We are in full communion with… the Church,’ which implies the communion with the teaching of the Church?”
The bishop described the reception of Holy Communion by a politician who rejects Church teaching as “sacrilegious” and “an offense to God.” He added that it sets a dangerous precedent as the public might see it as the Church “approving” grave sin.
He said that it is “not charitable” for priests and bishops to offer Holy Communion to politicians like Biden and Pelosi, as it is like “allowing them to eat their own judgement.” He called it an “act of war against the love of neighbor.”
At the end of the interview, Bishop Schneider thanked LifeSiteNews for its “meritorious and heroic work in these difficult times.”