Conscience is a law of the mind
– St. Augustine
An Interview with His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider
OnePeterFive: Your Excellency thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. I just have a few questions. First of all, why are you exercising your pastoral solicitude in this manner of exemptions?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: Sure. Let me first explain what we are offering and then I will explain why.
Through the Confraternity of Our Lady of Fatima, which we founded in 2020 on Oct 13th in order to bring about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we decided to offer relief to those current members, and those that wanted to become members thereafter, who are being threatened with firing and unemployment for not taking the abortion-tainted vaccines.
Many of the members are in the United States and so we decided to create a remedy for them to cope with this threat. So the current offering was developed with the U.S. legal context in mind. Though we are working to make the Affadavit of Membership available in other languages. We are also trying to reach out to attorneys in other countries, like Canada and Australia, to have them draft relevant versions of the Religious Exemption Letter Template that will work in their constitutional context.
So what we have offered to thousands of our members in the United States so far is an Affidavit of Membership in the Confraternity of Our Lady of Fatima signed by me via facsimile. This certificate verifies that such person is indeed a member of the Confraternity. It also states that the Confraternity holds the deep religious conviction that abortion-tainted vaccines are gravely immoral.
This Affidavit is accompanied with a letter that each member writes and signs himself where he expresses his sincere and deeply religious held belief against abortion-tainted vaccines. To help write this letter, we are providing a Religious Exemption Letter Template. This Template was reviewed by renowned Catholic attorneys in the United States, although it is not being offered as legal advice.
Taken together, the Confraternity member brings these two documents and submits them to his employer. Your right of conscience which is given to you by God Himself and is also protected by the “free exercise clause” in the United States and should be respected by your employer. But if you feel like your legal rights are being violated, I urge you to consult with an attorney who is competent in these civil matters.
The faithful do deserve to receive love and care from the Good Shepherd who wields His staff in the hands of his priests and bishops.
I am happy to hear that thousands and thousands of the faithful have decided to join the Confraternity and have gone on record to oppose abortion-tainted vaccines even at the risk of being fired by their companies.
I was so very touched by a woman from the East coast who writes, “I really appreciate that His Excellency has provided certificates to help those who are trying to get exemptions for vaccines. I’m sending mine into work today. If I need to lose my job I will, but I’m hoping this will help.”
It is so beautiful to see courage like hers being played out in the faithful all across the U.S. This woman, who is being faithful to Christ, will surely receive her reward in this life and the next.
1P5: What are the relevant laws in the US or elsewhere which make this exemption necessary?
Bp. Schn.: I am not an attorney, and I suggest that you reach out to a competent attorney who knows your constitution and laws and how they protect your right of conscience.
That being said, in the minimal conversations that I have had, I do know that your right of exemption to the vaccines revolves around you having a sincere and deeply held religious conviction with regards to the abortion-tainted vaccines.
Namely that abortion-tainted vaccines are gravely immoral and against your sincerely held religious beliefs. It’s that simple. The right to “free exercise” and laws against religious discrimination in the workplace should protect you.
In a sense, the real religious exemption is the well formed conscience itself, holding inside of yourself a “sincere religious belief.”
I urge you to have confidence and hope. Now is the time to speak up and protect your right of conscience. It comes from God Himself and no one can take that away from you, even if they were to deny it and ignore the US Constitution and laws that speak to religious freedom and were written to protect it.
We must look to the examples of the people that have had faith before us, those confessors, who were unmoved in their convictions.
I am reminded of my grandmother who, when told by the Soviet soldiers to take down the holy pictures from her wall, replied, “I will not do it!” This kind of faith is still alive today in many courageous and generous souls and the love of Jesus and Mary makes it all possible.
1P5: There are some who would say ask this, “If the Pope is saying get the vaccine, why are Catholics able to disobey this?”
Bp. Schn.: Sure. All authority comes from God Himself. If a Pope or a Prince issues a law, decree, or in this case a kind of “directive,” and it contradicts the law of God, then it ceases to have any authority. St. Augustine is known to have said that, “An unjust law is no law at all.”
The fact that abortion is in the causal chain in the testing and/or producing of all the current Covid-19 vaccines means that they are gravely immoral. I will not argue that here. Please see my letter where I discuss it thoroughly and definitively.
So in that sense Catholics are not disobeying the Pope because the directive itself is undermining the clarity of the Catholic doctrine and the Catholic witness against abortion and the fetal industry. Furthermore, the Pope is not teaching in this case infallibly.
1P5: Along these lines, if the CDF has said the vaccine is moral, that you are only remotely cooperating with abortion, why are you persisting in getting an exemption?
Bp. Schn.: With all due respect, the CDF is equivocal on the moral liceity of the use of abortion tainted vaccine as being a remote material cooperation with evil. Again I direct you to read the letter of five bishops from December 12, 2020, which definitively answers the whole question of remote material cooperation. It is not so “remote.” We are talking about an entire industry that is trafficking in fetal parts that come from the murdered innocents. May God have mercy!
1P5: Some are arguing that Catholics that don’t get the vaccine are working against the common good by refusing to be vaccinated? What do you say?
Bp. Schn.: What is the common good? Just the born? Are the unborn not also part of the common good?
We must develop policies that protect all life; that’s what we have said from the beginning. We must not drop our pro-life position when push comes to shove.
Sure we do have an epidemic on our hands, and it is true that many people have died from it. We mourn their loss.
But we are finding that the current proposed solution, all current Covid-19 vaccines, were made on the backs of the murdered innocents. And with the Delta variant, we are seeing it play out, in areas of high vaccination rates, that it is not even effective at preventing more outbreaks. These vaccines don’t even set out to do what they told us they would do, namely mitigate the Covid-19 epidemic.
We must urge scientists to come up with real medicine that will truly work to mitigate this epidemic and not on the backs of precious unborn life.
1P5: Your Excellency again thank you for your time today and for your care for Christ’s flock.