In a recent interview with the Spanish website Adelante La Fe, Bishop Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan (likely instructed by liberal members of the Society of St. Pius X) said, “It is my great wish that the SSPX might be recognized and established within the regular structure of the Church.”
The interview itself has not yet been fully translated into English. However, the Rorate Caeli blog has bits and pieces of it. Read those here. I’d like to focus on some of the Bishop’s comments.
I am convinced that in the present circumstances, Msgr. Lefebvre would accept the canonical proposal of a personal prelature without hesitation.
The episcopal ordinations were done in 1988 because in good conscience he thought that he had to do it, as an extreme act, and at the same time said that this situation should not last a long time.
These statements, if correctly translated, are an insult to the Archbishop. Bishop Schneider simply does not know the man he claims to speak for. His intention here is to minimize the consecrations by saying they were “extreme” and done merely because Lefebvre “thought that he had to.” Such language is an attempt to excuse the Archbishop and to imply that he likely wouldn’t do it again if he had the chance.
Nonsense! The Abp. did nothing “extreme” in consecrating four Bishops. The consecrations were a principled line in the sand, drawn by God himself, to protect the faith and to see which of his children would follow the truth despite being “excommunicated” for doing so. In essence, they were a supernatural event guided by the Holy Spirit that saved the Church from total annihilation. That Bp. Schneider seems to imply that they were basically a mistake and not the ideal course of action is an egregious offense to Almighty God.
It seems necessary to remind our readers that when he was asked if he had any “doubts” or “regrets” about what he did, Abp. Lefebvre responded by saying “No, none at all. I think everything that happened was brought about in a truly providential and almost miraculous way.” We “should have no hesitation or scruples with regard to these episcopal consecrations.”
It is clear to us that God was undeniably with the Archbishop in his decision. Peace and calmness came over him afterwards, or so it was reported. If there are Society priests today who feel like Bp. Schneider does, then the FSSP will surely welcome them with open arms.
Bp. Schneider’s comment that Abp. Lefebvre “said that this situation should not last a long time” also deserves scrutiny. As does his claim that “If you remain canonically autonomous for too long, you run the risk of losing a characteristic of the Catholic Church.”
The Archbishop did not believe either of these things. In fact, he said the complete opposite in 1990:
We must not be under any illusions. We are fighting a fight guaranteed by a whole line of popes. Hence, we should have no hesitation or fear, hesitation such as, “Why should we be going on our own? After all, why not join Rome, why not join the pope?” Yes, if Rome and the Pope were in line with Tradition, if they were carrying on the work of all the Popes of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, of course. …So we do not have to worry. We must after all trust in the grace of God.
“What is going to happen? How is it all going to end?” That is God’s secret. Mystery. But that we must fight the ideas presently fashionable in Rome, coming from the Pope’s own mouth, Cardinal Ratzinger’s mouth, Cardinal Casaroli’s mouth, of Cardinal Willebrands and those like them, is clear, clear, for all they do is repeat the opposite of what the Popes said and solemnly stated for 150 years…It is clear. Hence we must not waver for one moment.
To repeat, Abp. Lefebvre believed “we do not have to worry” about not being with those who are betraying Tradition. We must “trust in the grace of God” and “fight the ideas presently fashionable in Rome” however long they persist. We must “not waver for one moment” because it is “God’s secret” how this is “all going to end.”
Given these remarks, it is simply not accurate to claim, as Bp. Schneider does, that Abp. Lefebvre “said that this situation should not last a long time.” Archbishop Lefebvre would have also disagreed with the belief that being “canonically autonomous for too long” runs “the risk of losing a characteristic of the Catholic Church.”
(As an aside, it should be noted that in 2003, Fr. Jean Violette, then the District Superior of Canada, condemned Fr. Paul Aulagnier (a Society priest at the time) because he believed there was “danger” in not being “canonically regularized” with Rome. Read Fr. Violette’s letter here.)
Two more quotations of Bp. Schneider deserve attention:
It is my great wish that the SSPX might be recognized and established within the regular structure of the Church as soon as possible, and this will be for the benefit of all, for them and for us. Actually it will be a new force in this great battle for the purity of the Faith.
I have told Msgr. Fellay: “Monsignor, we need your presence to join together with all of the good forces in the Church to achieve this union.”
While it is encouraging that Bp. Schneider often speaks about Freemasonry, Modernism, and many other evils afflicting the Church today, he is the one who needs to join with the Society and come into full communion with Tradition and all the Popes of the past. Moreover, his “great wish” shouldn’t be that Rome “regularizes” the Society. It should be that Modernist Rome repents of its blasphemous ways and re-establishes itself within the regular structure of Eternal Rome.
The Bishop’s remarks about “joining forces” betray a sort of naturalistic thinking that minimizes the supernatural battle (i.e. the graces those who follow the Archbishop win for the Church by enduring the chastisements God puts them through). Indeed, if, as Bp. Schneider claims, Traditionalists will be better able to affect change once the SSPX is “regularized,” then Modernists are dumber than they look! Honestly, would Pope Francis really take a course of action that would enable his theological enemies to coordinate in such a way that would ultimately lead to the demise of not only progressive Catholicism but possibly Vatican II? He and his liberal allies are not this naive. Yet, those who think “regularization” will lead to some sort of flourishing of Tradition must logically hold that they are.
Archbishop Lefebvre once said that there are “certain layfolk” who “are very nice, very good people, all for the Society, who accepted the Consecrations” but “who have a kind of deep-down regret that they are no longer with the people they used to be with, people who did not accept the Consecrations and who are now against us.” Of these people, the Archbishop said that they simply must “make up their minds.” Are they going “to join us, and work with us” or are they “going a different way in order to keep company with the liberals that left us”? Bp. Schneider, as well as the leaders of the Society of St. Pius X, need to decide. Are they going to join with the Archbishop or are they going to go a different way? I know who I’m with. Do you?