Thursday, 6 November 2014

Bishop Athanasius, Cardinal Burke and St Basil

Bishop Athanasius Schneider is well-known for his excellent books Dominus Est: It is the Lord, and Corpus Christi: Holy Communion and the Renewal of the Church in which he argues for greater reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and particularly for a return to the practice of receiving Holy Communion in the traditional manner, kneeling and receiving on the tongue. I heard him speak and had the privilege of meeting him in 2009 in Estonia and again earlier this year at a meeting of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. Bishop Schneider is a holy man and has a great love for the Church, the priesthood and the Blessed Sacrament, so it was interesting to read his reaction to the recent Synod in an interview that he gave to Polonia Christiana (H/T Rorate Caeli)

Bishop Schneider is a scholar of the Fathers and one can sense his lively shock at the similarity of our present situation with those that have gone before, notably the Arian crisis, in which the defenders of orthodox doctrine were labelled intransigent and traditionalist. He has an apposite quotation from Saint Basil the Great:
“Only one sin is nowadays severely punished: the attentive observance of the traditions of our Fathers. For that reason the good ones are thrown out of their places and brought to the desert” (Ep. 243).
The whole interview is worth reading because he does not stop with deploring the situation but offers sound advice on how we should respond.

Meanwhile, Gloria TV has a report on the presentation by Cardinal Burke in Vienna, of the German edition of the book “Remaining in the Truth of Christ”, a gathering organised by Una Voce Austria. Cardinal Burke said that the Relatio post disceptationem issued half way through the Synod was “one of the saddest documents that I could imagine ever coming from the Church.” He continued, “Many of us were horrified with this idea that was presented in the report, that there could somehow be good elements in mortally sinful acts. This is impossible.”

It is extraordinary that highly-respected, transparently holy and pastoral Bishops and Cardinals are speaking in this way. Damian Thompson in the Spectator has a readable summary of the fault lines that are developing and warns, Watch out Pope Francis: the Catholic civil war has begun.

As a priest, it is a great consolation to see the leadership offered by Cardinals Burke and Pell, and by Bishop Schneider. We do not need to be disloyal to the Church, the Pope, or the College of Bishops to raise our voices in defence of dogmatic and moral truth concerning the human person, marriage and the family. Since the election of Pope Francis, I have included the collects Pro Ecclesia and Pro Papa in my daily morning prayers and will continue to do so.

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