5 Hard Questions for Bishop Schneider
In this new interview with Catholic Voice, Bishop Athanasius Schneider comments on the Instrumentum Laboris. Latin for “working instrument” it is an enormous and extremely long-winded document for the 2015 Synod. His Excellency warns against trying to find politically correct language and explains the duty of a Catholic bishop when faced with the moral issues of the day. He also offers examples of saints and spiritual writings to which we can turn for consolation and encouragement in this time of confusion and disorientation in the Church.
Your Excellency, the Instrumentum Laboris for the 2015 Synod states that there is a “common accord” [c’è un comune accordo] in favour of a “penitential way” for the divorced and remarried ” under the authority of the Bishop, for the faithful (who have been) divorced and remarried civilly, who find themselves in a situation of irreversible cohabitation.” Is it accurate to suggest there is a “common accord” ?
The affirmation that there is a “common accord” on the “penitential way” is not correct. The only one public document that would permit to determine the effective opinion of the bishops on this topic, is the “Relatio Synodi” of 2014. There it is documented that 40% of the members of the Synod rejected such a “penitential way”. When faced with such a result, one can hardly speak of a “common accord”. Furthermore, there is no specification as to a concrete definition of such a “penitential way”.
In light of this use of the phrase “c’è un comune accordo” is the credibility of the Instrumentum Laboris threatened? One could even conclude there is an attempt to impose communion for the divorced and remarried at the Synod despite opposition. Do you have any comment on this?
In the light of a careful analysis of the facts, one is left with the suspicion that the authors of the Instrumentum Laboris try to push forward the agenda of a certain clerical pressure group in order to change the Divine law of the non-admission the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion.
Commenting on the Synod, Archbishop Forte has said one of the priorities should be a discussion of allowing those who have divorced and remarried outside the Church to become “godfathers or godmothers, catechists, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.” What do you think of this idea?
Firstly, it is necessary to remember the significance of godparents according to the constant teaching and practice of the Church: A sponsor (godfather or godmother) must help the baptized person to lead a Christian life in keeping with baptism and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in it. To be permitted to take on the function of sponsor a person must be a Catholic who leads a life of faith in keeping with the function to be taken on (cf. Canons 872 and 874 § 1, 3). Sponsors and those who take the place of parents are obliged to form the children by word and example in faith and in the practice of Christian life (cf. Canon 774, § 2). When a godfather or a godmother or a catechist conducts a lifestyle that publicly contradicts the Sixth Commandment and the indissolubility of the Christian marriage, then he or she surely cannot be an example of a life of faith. The same is valid for Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. The advocacy for the admission of divorced and remarried to the task of godparents and catechists cannot ultimately be for the true spiritual good of the children, but turns out to be an istrumentalization of a specific ideological agenda. This is a dishonesty and a mockery of the institution of godparents and catechists who by means of a public promise took on the task of educators of the faith. In the case of godparents or catechists who are divorced and remarried, their life however, continuously contradicts their words, and so they have to face the admonition of the Holy Spirit through the mouth of the Apostle Saint James: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1: 22).
Excellency, in the ongoing debate over same sex “marriage” some Catholic groups have become open to the notion of recognizing that same sex pairs can have long term loving relationships thus they conclude that it is possible to recognize same sex civil partnerships. It is evident that even a few bishops support this idea but could this ever be an authentic Catholic position?
This can never be an authentic Catholic position because it contradicts directly the words of God, which says that homosexual acts and the homosexual lifestyle are a grievous offense of the will of God (cf. Gen 18:20; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Is 3:9; Rom 1:26-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10; Jud 7). Committing evil in a long-term and even loving relationship cannot transform the same evil into good. Only true repentance that includes contrition and the firm intention to avoid the evil cancels with the grace of God the evil. It would be absurd to affirm that alcoholism will gain a positive recognition because of the long-term and loving relationship of two persons who established this relationship on the base of their propensity to alcohol. The same absurdity contains the above-mentioned affirmation about same sex unions.
There also appears to be a push towards a “new language” with some saying that using the phrases “homosexual tendencies” and “intrinsically disordered” should be avoided less offence is caused – what do you make of this drive to use politically correct language?
We have to call things by their real names; otherwise, we will deceive the others and ourselves. To call the things by their names does not mean an intention to create discrimination, provided we speak with respect and pedagogical wisdom. There exist some deficiency symptoms of a bodily or spiritual nature such as fear of heights, claustrophobia, seasickness, shortsightedness etc. No person of common sense will be indignant when we name such phenomena as a deficiency. In fact, the homosexual attraction is in itself a sexual-psychological deficiency symptom, which all civilized human history has considered as a deficiency and called by its name. Under pressure from the new gender ideology, which has its roots in the Marxist ideology, in the 1970s homosexuality was excluded from the International Handbook of Psychological diseases. In such a way, persons who suffer with homosexual attraction were taken hostages of a radical ideology, inasmuch as they are denied the opportunity to receive healing or improvement of their psychologically defective situation. To have a deficiency is not a shame, but it is a fact. Those who effectively encourage deficient persons, in our case persons who are feeling a homosexual attraction, to abuse their deficiency in order to become more deficient and to consequently become addicts, commit a grave injustice towards these persons who need and want to receive help in their spiritual and psychological deficiency.