RORATE EXCLUSIVE: Bishop Athanasius Schneider reaction to Synod Door to communion for divorced & remarried officially kicked open
His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, one of the most visible prelates working on the restoration of the traditional Latin Mass and faith, has penned a nearly 5,000-word response to the Synod exclusively for our readers. Anyone may reproduce or link to this article, but all must reference Rorate Caeli as the source.
We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to His Excellency for taking the time to analyze and express his views on one of the most critical events in Church history — one that he too sees as a “back door” to Holy Communion for adulterers, a rejection of Christ’s teaching and a Final Report full of “time bombs.”
In the coming days, we will also publish an interview with His Excellency, on a wide range of topics. For now, we bring you this important work, exclusively for our readers.
A back door to a neo-mosaic practice in the Final Report of the Synod
The XIV General Assembly of the Synod of the Bishops (October 4 – 25, 2015), which was dedicated to the theme of “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World”, issued a Final Report with some pastoral proposals submitted to the discernment of the Pope. The document itself is only of an advisory nature and does not possess a formal magisterial value.
Yet during the Synod, there appeared those real new disciples of Moses and the new Pharisees, who in the numbers 84-86 of the Final Report opened a back door or looming time bombs for the admittance of divorced and remarried to Holy Communion. At the same time those bishops who intrepidly defended “the Church’s own fidelity to Christ and to His truth” (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, 84) were in some media reports unjustly labeled as Pharisees.
The new disciples of Moses and the new Pharisees during the last two Assemblies of the Synod (2014 and 2015) masked their practical deny of the indissolubility of marriage and of a suspension of the Sixth Commandment on a case-by-case basis under the guise of the concept of mercy, using expressions such as: “way of discernment,” “accompaniment”, “orientations of the bishop,” “dialogue with the priest,” “forum internum,” “a more fuller integration into the life of the Church,” a possible suppression of imputability regarding the cohabitation in irregular unions (cf. Final Report, nn. 84-86).
This text section in the Final Report contains indeed a trace of a neo-mosaic practice of divorce, even though the redactors skillfully and, in a cunning manner, avoided any direct change of the doctrine of the Church. Therefore, all parties, both the promotors of the so-called “Kasper agenda” and their opponents, are apparently satisfied stating: “All is OK. The Synod did not change the doctrine.” Yet, such a perception is quite naive, because it ignores the back door and the pending time bombs in the abovementioned text section which becomes manifest by a careful examination of the text by its internal interpretive criteria.
Even when speaking of a “way of discernment” there is talk of “repentance” (Final Report, n. 85), there remains nevertheless a great deal of ambiguity. In fact, according to the reiterated affirmations of Cardinal Kasper and like-minded churchmen, such a repentance concerns the past sins against the spouse of the first valid marriage and the repentance of the divorced indeed may not refer to the acts of their marital cohabitation with the new civilly married partner.
The assurance of the text in the numbers 85 and 86 of the Final Report that such a discernment has to be made according to the teaching of the Church and in a correct judgement remains nevertheless ambiguous. Indeed, Cardinal Kasper and like-minded clerics emphatically and repeatedly assured that the admittance of the divorced and civilly remarried to Holy Communion will not touch the dogma of the indissolubility and of the sacramentality of marriage, and that a judgement in the conscience in that case has to be considered as being correct even when the divorced and remarried continue to cohabitate in a marital manner, and that they should not be required to live in complete continence as brother and sister.
In quoting the famous number 84 of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio of Pope John Paul II in number 85 of the Final Report, the redactors censured the text, cutting out the following decisive formulation: “The way to the Eucharist can only be granted to those who take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples”.
This practice of the Church is based on Divine Revelation of the Word of God: Written and transmitted through Tradition. This practice of the Church is an expression of the uninterrupted Tradition since the Apostles and, thus, remains unchangeable for all times. Already Saint Augustine affirmed: “Who dismisses his adulterous wife and marries another woman, whereas his first wife still lives, remains perpetually in the state of adultery. Such a man does not any efficacious penance while he refuses to abandon the new wife. If he is a catechumen, he cannot be admitted to baptism, because his will remains rooted in the evil. If he is a (baptized) penitent, he cannot receive the (ecclesiastical) reconciliation as long as he does not break with his bad attitude” (De adulterinis coniugiis, 2, 16). In fact, the above intentional censorship of the teaching of Familaris Consortio in n. 85 of the Final Report, represents for any sane hermeneutics the very interpretation key for the understanding of the text section on divorced and remarried (numbers 84-86).
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