(Photo: interior of the Basilica of Saint Balbina, Rome)
On Monday 5th December Cardinals Burke & Brandmüller joined a meeting about the dubia at the Lepanto Foundation, at the foot of the Basilica of Saint Balbina, Rome. The keynote speaker was Bishop Schneider who delivered an address on fidelity to the tradition of the Church and its moral teaching. The meeting was hosted by Professor Roberto de Mattei, the President of the Lepanto Foundation. In recent weeks both Bishop Schneider and Professor Roberto de Mattei have been outspoken in their defence of the Four Cardinals and frank in their assessment of the crisis within the Church as a consequence of Amoris Laetitia.
“What is newsworthy is the existence of a meeting that attracted cardinals, bishops, priests, seminarians, religious in large numbers, and lay people alike, all anxious to defend the immutable truth of Christ, specifically His words on marriage.
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, these prelates, these princes of the Church, who do not feel permitted to withdraw from the perils of exposing Amoris Laetitia’s ambiguities, held the places of honor. Let us clearly state: It is impossible to deny that these ambiguities are dangerous, as evidenced by several bishops’ and conferences’ interpretations openly considering access to Communion for the divorced and remarried, while their original matrimonial bond is valid, not declared null, and without requiring that they live in continence.
Many priests were present: priests in cassocks, the old and the young – especially the young! Sixty or eighty priests, coming as neighbors or from afar, anxious above all to find authorities expressing the Catholic truth, but also the assurance of not being alone. Times are “tumultuous”, as Cardinal Burke said in his remarks following Archbp. Schneider’s lecture; It is a time when it is good to find oneself in a community, fortified and encouraged by the perseverance and strength of one’s fellow men. This was the state of mind, for example, of Bishop Andreas Laun of Salzburg, whom the French know well from his participation in the Parisian Marches for Life.
I saw Dutch priests coming from far away in every sense of the word: from a country in religious agony, where fidelity to the Magisterium is rare and two churches close every week. “How many opened mosques?” I asked. “Two a week.” There was a deliberate displacement. Just like that priest from Ireland.
How do we leave such an event? Moved, grateful, fortified. In any case, this was how I lived it: with the certainty that our Lord, beyond the vicissitudes, supports and preserves His spouse, the Church, despite all her tribulations. The vibrant Credo, sung by the audience to close the meeting, summarized this in a more than symbolic way.”
The following extracts are taken from Bishop Schneider’s address [now fully translated into English by LifeSiteNews], entitled, “The Non-negotiable Greatness of Christian Marriage”.
Bishop Schneider on the grave error of Laetitia adulterii, the joy of adultery
Instead of the First Commandment , as it was in the time of Aaron, many clerics, even at the highest levels, substitute in our day, for the Sixth Commandment, the new idol of sexual relations between people who are not validly married, which is, in a certain sense, the Golden Calf venerated by the clerics of our day.
The admission of such people to the sacrament without asking them to live in continence as a sine qua non condition, means fundamentally a permission to not observe, in such a case, the Sixth Commandment. Such clerics, like new “Aarons,” appease such people, saying that they can be serene and joyful, that is, that they can continue in the joy of adultery because of a new “via caritatis” (way of charity) and because of the “maternal” sense of the Church, and that they can even receive the nourishment of the Eucharist. With such pastoral guidance the new “Aaronic” clerics make of the Catholic people the mockery of their enemies, that is, of the unbelieving and immoral world, which will be able really to say, for example:
“In the Catholic Church one can have a new partner besides one’s own spouse, and the union with her is permitted in practice.”
“In the Catholic Church there is allowed, as a consequence, a kind of polygamy.”
“In the Catholic Church the observance of the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue, so hated by part of our modern ecological and enlightened society, can have legitimate exceptions.”
“The principle of the moral progress of modern man, according to which the legitimacy of sexual acts outside of marriage must be accepted, is finally recognized to be accepted in an implicit way in the Catholic Church, which had always been retrograde, rigid, and opposed to the joy of love and of the moral progress of modern man.”
This is how the enemies of Christ and of the divine truth are beginning to speak, those who are the true enemies of the Church. By the work of the new Aaronic clericalism the admission of those who unrepentantly practice adultery makes the children of the Catholic Church the mockery of their adversaries.
The fact that the saint who first gave his life as a testimony of Christ was Saint John the Baptist, the Precursor of the Lord, always remains a great lesson and a serious warning to pastors and to the faithful of the Church. John the Baptist’s testimony of Christ consisted in defending without a shadow of doubt or ambiguity the indissolubility of marriage, and in condemning adultery. The history of the Catholic Church is glorious in the luminous examples set by those who have followed the example of Saint John the Baptist or have, like him, given the testimony of their blood, suffering persecutions and personal disadvantages. These examples must guide especially the pastors of the Church of our day, because they do not cede to the classic clerical temptation to seek to please man more than the holy and exacting will of God, a will that is simultaneously loving and very wise.
May the Holy Spirit raise up, among all of the members of the Church, from the most simple and humble of the faithful to the Supreme Pastor, always more numerous and courageous defenders of the truth of the indissolubility of marriage and of the corresponding immutable practice of the Church, even if, on account of such a defense, they would risk considerable personal advantages. The Church must more than ever exert itself in the announcement of matrimonial doctrine and pastoral care so that in the lives of spouses and especially of the so-called divorced and remarried there might be observed that which the Holy Spirit said in Sacred Scripture: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Heb. 13: 4). Only a pastoral approach to marriage that continues to take seriously those words of God, reveals itself to be truly merciful, because it leads the soul of the sinner on the secure path to eternal life. And that is what matters.
Bishop Schneider on the Four Cardinals and the dubia
The day following his address Bishop Schneider gave an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews in which he discussed the attacks against the Four Cardinals:
Regarding the dubia published by the four Cardinals, he told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview today that the Church should always foster a “culture of dialogue.”
The formulation of dubia, as the Cardinals here have expressed in their own terms, has been a common practice in the Church. We need to be able to ask questions openly without being afraid of repressions. The reaction to the dubia is a proof of the climate in which we actually live in the Church right now. We live in a climate of threats and of denial of dialogue towards a specific group. Dialogue seems to be accepted only if you think like everyone else – that is practically like a regime.
Schneider brought up his experience in Russia, where he was born in the time of the Soviet Union. His parents were sent by Stalin to work camps, or “Gulags,” after the Second World War: “If you didn’t follow the line of the party, or you questioned it, you couldn’t even ask. That is for me a very clear parallel to what is happening now in the reactions to the dubia — questions — of the Cardinals. This is a very sad experience especially since everybody is speaking about a ‘dialogue of culture’ after the Second Vatican Council. While bishops openly teach heresies and nothing happens to them, that is truly a grave injustice and very sad.
Bishop Schneider on what may happen if Pope Francis doesn’t answer the dubia
If the Pope does not answer, the next step will be recourse to prayer, to supernatural means, to pray for the enlightenment of the Pope and that he will gain courage.
In Church history, we say that in an extreme case in which the bonum commune of the faith is threatened, then the bishops as members of the college of bishops, and in a truly collegial relation to the Pope with a brotherly obedience to him, must ask him publicly to renounce the misdeed of giving Communion to remarried divorced Catholics, as it is already being done in many dioceses.
This situation has already had precedence in saints — not in schismatics or heretics. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Catherine of Siena, and I think this should be possible in the Church without the person being called a schismatic.
Cardinal Burke has said a “formal correction” might be in order to resolve the situation of uncertainty. “In the language of moral theology, fraternal correction is an act of love — if it is given in obedience and with reason,” Schneider commented. “We have to return to this familiar way of dealing with it.”
The Holy Father has to bring clarity and support to his brothers in resolving doubts. … We have to pray for that; only clarity will bring unity. If there is to be an answer from the Pope, then it must be unambiguous. He must say what is the truth.
The early Karl Rahner taught that though heresy must be avoided and deplored the crisis it precipitated served the ‘positive’ function as an opportunity for the Church to clarify her mind about the sacred doctrines essential at that point of time.The Laetitia adulterii, the joy of adultery, threatens marriage, husbands and wives, children and families with the destructive harm of caused by western culture’s moral permissiveness and sexual degradation. But we can be sure that the Holy Spirit will assist the hierarchy and laity authentically discern the genuine sensus fidei as described in Lumen Gentium:
The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name. The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God. Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints, penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.
Remember these words of Our Lord during these tumultuous times:
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Lk 12:32-34).
H/T Hillary White for making photograph of meeting available
Originally published at EWTN GB. The text has been slightly edited & the transcript updated with a better translation. Reprinted with permission.
Deacon Nick Donnelly is an author based in the diocese of Lancaster, England. He is the online news editor for EWTN Great Britain. You can follow him on Twitter at @protectthepope.