Athanasius Schneider

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His Excellency, the Most Reverend

Athanasius Schneider

Auxiliary Bishop of Mary Most Holy in Astana
Titular Bishop of Celerina
Mgr Schneider, Chartres 2015.jpg
Bishop Schneider in Chartres, France
DioceseMary Most Holy in Astana
Appointed5 February 2011
Other postsTitular Bishop of Celerina
Ordination25 March 1990
by Manuel Pestana Filho
Consecration2 June 2006
by Angelo Cardinal Sodano
Personal details
Birth nameAnton Schneider
Born (1961-04-07) 7 April 1961 (age 58)
Tokmok, Kirghiz SSR, Soviet Union (present day Kyrgyzstan)
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous postAuxiliary bishop of Karaganda
MottoKyrie eleison
Coat of armsAthanasius Schneider's coat of arms
Styles of
Athanasius Schneider
Coat of arms of Athanasius Schneider.svg
Reference styleThe Right Reverend
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleMonsignor

Athanasius Schneider, O.R.C. (born Anton Schneider on 7 April 1961) is a Kazakhstani Roman Catholic bishop, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan. He is a member of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross of Coimbra.

Family and early life[edit]

Anton Schneider was born in Tokmok, Kirghiz SSR, in the Soviet Union. His parents were Black Sea Germans from Odessa in the Ukraine.[1] After the Second World War they were sent by Stalin to a gulag in Krasnokamsk in the Ural Mountains. In Krasnokamsk, the family was closely involved with the underground church. Schneider's mother, Maria, was one of several women who helped shelter the Blessed Oleksa Zaryckyj, a Ukrainian priest, who would later be imprisoned in the infamous Karlag by the Soviet regime for his ministry; he would eventually be martyred in 1963. The family traveled to the Kirghiz SSR after being released from the camps.[2] Later, they left Central Asia for Estonia.[3] As a boy, Schneider and his three siblings would attend clandestine masses with their parents, often traveling sixty miles from the family's home in Valga to Tartu, taking the first train in the morning under the cover of darkness and returning with the last train at night. Due to the great distance, infrequent visits by the clergy, and crackdowns by the Soviet authorities, they were only able to make the trip once a month.[1] In 1973, shortly after making his first Holy Communion in secret, Schneider emigrated with his family to Rottweil in West Germany.[4]

Training and priesthood[edit]

In 1982, Schneider joined the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross of Coimbra, a Roman Catholic religious order within the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, in Austria. He took the religious name of Athanasius upon joining the order and was ordained a priest on 25 March 1990. Starting in 1999, he taught Patristics at Mary, Mother of the Church Seminary in Karaganda. On 2 June 2006 he was consecrated a bishop at the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter in the Vatican by Angelo Cardinal Sodano. In 2011 he was transferred to the position of auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Astana.[5] He is the General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Kazakhstan.[6]

Throughout late 2018, Schneider appeared at a number of conferences and events by videocam instead of in person, as he had been accustomed to doing. This led to rumors among Traditional Catholics that his travel had been restricted as punishment for his criticisms of Pope Francis. "I am sad that such news is spreading," Schneider said. "I was asked on behalf of the Holy See to reduce the frequency of my travels outside my diocese, so that their duration will not exceed the limits indicated by Canon Law. Therefore there is no travel ban." Canon law requires that a bishop, unless fulfilling some specific duty, not be absent from his diocese for more than one month out of the year.[7]


Schneider is widely seen as a supporter of Traditional Catholicism with conservative views that are occasionally perceived as clashing with those of other members of the Church's hierarchy.[8] He has criticized clergy members whom he believes do not fully adhere to the faith and who instead surrender to what he calls a "cruel pagan world." In 2014, he compared them to "members of the clergy and even bishops who put grains of incense in front of the statue of the emperor or of a pagan idol or who delivered the books of the Holy Scripture to be burned." Schneider alleged that even in the present age there are "traitors of the Faith."[9]

Holy Communion[edit]

Schneider supports the posture of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling in the liturgy.[10] This is the theme of his book Dominus Est,[11][12] published in Italian, and since translated into English, German, Estonian, Lithuanian, Polish, Hungarian and Chinese. The book contains a foreword written by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, then the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the current Archbishop of Colombo and Metropolitan head of the church in Sri Lanka.[13] In the book, Schneider writes that receiving Holy Communion in this way had become standard practice in the Church by the 5th century, and that Pope Gregory I strongly chastised priests who refused to follow this tradition.[10]

Schneider encourages Catholics who truly believe they are receiving Christ in the Blessed Sacrament to kneel and receive Communion on their tongues. In 2009, he wrote, "The awareness of the greatness of the eucharistic mystery is demonstrated in a special way by the manner in which the body of the Lord is distributed and received."[14]

Schneider offering Mass in 2009

Schneider has vigorously upheld the traditional teaching of the Church that divorce and remarriage outside of it constitutes adultery, a mortal sin, therefore making one ineligible to receive Holy Communion.[9][15] In a 2014 interview, Schneider said that calls for change to this practice came from "anti-Christian media." He suggested this was "a false concept of mercy," saying: "It is comparable to a doctor who gives a [diabetic] patient sugar, although he knows it will kill him."[9] In 2016, Pope Francis released the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, which seemed to allow divorced and remarried persons to receive the sacrament. This was extremely controversial, and afterwards some bishops began to allow the divorced and remarried to receive the sacrament. This development was strongly criticized by Schneider, who said that perennial teaching on marriage and Communion is "more powerful and surer than the discordant voice and practice of admitting unrepentant adulterers to Holy Communion, even if this practice is promoted by a single Pope or the diocesan bishops."[15] On April 7, 2018, Schneider, along with conservative cardinals Raymond Leo Burke and Walter Brandmüller, participated in a conference rejecting the outline proposed by German bishops to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist. Schneider spoke of the duty of popes to be "custodians" of authority.[16]

Society of Saint Pius X[edit]

Schneider has been a major figure in attempts to reconcile the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) with Rome. He has repeatedly met with members of the Society, including the former Superior General Bernard Fellay, to discuss doctrinal differences and to arrive at a solution. In August 2015, after remarks by Schneider were said to be favorable to the Society, he issued a clarification. He said that the SSPX is still not in full communion with Rome, and that the situation has to be resolved. Schneider declared that many of the SSPX's concerns regarding the texts of post-Vatican II documents and their interpretation are legitimate, but added that, "Unfortunately their criticism lacks sometimes the due respectful form." He also said:

This is the tragedy of the history, that in confused times as this is our time, the good forces in the Church, which want to restore the true faith and Divine worship often fight one against the other, to the detriment of the true renewal and to the joy of the enemies outside and inside the Church.[8]

Clergy sex abuse[edit]

On August 25, 2018 Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former apostolic nuncio to the United States, released an 11-page letter describing a series of warnings to the Vatican regarding sexual misconduct by Theodore McCarrick, who had been removed from active ministry on June 20 following allegations deemed credible of sexually abusing a minor. According to Viganò, Pope Benedict XVI placed secret restrictions on McCarrick, but Pope Francis removed these sanctions and made McCarrick "his trusted counselor." Viganò called on Francis and all those responsible for the coverrup to resign.[17]

The letter provoked diverse reactions. Many speculated that Viganò's conservative views, among other things, led him into a "declaration of war" against Francis.[18][19] A number of bishops sharply criticized it[20][21] while others called for an investigation.[22][23] Schneider came down on the side of those supporting the letter. He responded by saying that there was "no reasonable and plausible cause to doubt the truth content of the document." He demanded "ruthlessness and transparency" in cleansing the Church of evils, particularly "homosexual cliques and networks" in the curia that he and some others have blamed for helping to cause the abuse epidemic. Schneider called on all "cardinals, bishops and priests to renounce any compromise and any flirt with the world."[24] He later referred to attempts by some Catholic clergy to argue that clerical abuse was not connected with homosexuality as "a denial of reality."[25]


In June 2018, Schneider spoke out against those in the Church who support open borders in Europe. In an interview with Il Giornale of Milan, he said:

The phenomenon of so-called “immigration” represents an orchestrated and long-prepared plan by international powers to radically change the Christian and national identities of the European peoples... These powers use the Church's enormous moral potential and her structures to more effectively achieve their anti-Christian and anti-European goal. To this end they are abusing the true concept of humanism and even the Christian commandment of charity.[26]

In the same interview, Schneider condemned the European Union as "a kind of new Soviet Union" with "an unmistakably Masonic ideology."[26]

Interreligious relations[edit]

Schneider stated in a January 2013 interview that proselytizing by "false religions and sects" may be restricted in majority-Catholic counties. "When there is (a Catholic majority) then false religions and sects have not the right to make propaganda there," he said. Schneider added that this does not mean that governments can "suppress them, they can live, but (governments) cannot give them the same right to make propaganda to the detriment of Catholics."[27]

On February 4, 2019, Pope Francis signed the "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" with Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of the al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi. The document incited controversy for stating that "the pluralism and the diversity of religions" are "willed by God in His wisdom," a statement which allegedly contradicted Catholic teaching. Schneider issued a statement about the role of the Christian religion. "Christianity is the only God-willed religion," he wrote. "Therefore, it can never be placed complementarily side by side with other religions. Those would violate the truth of Divine Revelation, as it is unmistakably affirmed in the First Commandment of the Decalogue, who would assert that the diversity of religions is the will of God."[28]

In March 2019, following a meeting between himself, Francis, and nine other bishops from Central Asia, Schneider stated that Francis confirmed to him that the document was meant to signify permissive will and not positive will. The distinction is that permissive will refers to something that God allows, but does not positively desire, which is the case for positive will. Schneider said that he then brought up the fact that, in the document, the diversity of religions was compared to the diversity of sexes and mentioned in the same sentence, while Schneider and Francis both acknowledged that the diversiy of sexes was positively willed by God. "[I]t was my desire, and my request that the Holy Father rectify this. But he said to us bishops: you can say that the phrase in question on the diversity of religions means the permissive will of God," Schneider said.[25]

Declaration of Truths[edit]

At a theological conference in Rome in December 2010, Schneider proposed the need for "a new Syllabus" (recalling the Syllabus of Errors of 1864), in which papal teaching authority would correct erroneous interpretations of the documents of the Second Vatican Council.[29][30][31]

On June 10, 2019, Schneider and four other bishops and cardinals published a 40-point "Declaration of Truths" claiming to reaffirm traditional Church teaching. The bishops wrote that such a declaration was necessary in a time of "almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation." Specific passages in the declaration implicitly relate to several writings by Pope Francis. The declaration states that "the religion born of faith in Jesus Christ" is the "only religion positively willed by God," seemingly alluding to the document signed by Pope Francis called "Human Fraternity" which stated that the "diversity of religions" is "willed by God." Following recent changes to the Catechism to oppose capital punishment, the declaration states that the Church "did not err" in teaching that civil authorities may "lawfully exercise capital punishment" when it is "truly necessary" and to preserve the "just order of societies."[32]

Amazon Synod[edit]

In September 2019, Schneider and Burke published an 8-page letter denouncing what they alleged to be six theological errors in the working document for the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region and asking that Pope Francis "confirm his brethren in the faith by an unambiguous rejection of the errors." Burke and Schneider criticized the document for its "implicit pantheism," support for married clergy and a greater role for women in the liturgy, and what they considered to be excessive openness to pagan rituals and practices common among the Amazonian peoples. They asked that the laity and the clergy pray at least one decade of the Rosary and fast weekly for the rejection of such ideas over a 40 day period, from September 17 to October 26.[33]


  1. ^ a b "How Bishop Athanasius Schneider became a leading Voice for Catholic Truth". National Catholic Register. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Kazakhstan's Deep Christian Roots – ZENIT – English". 28 June 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Kazakhstan, Outpost of Catholic Orthodoxy". 27 January 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Bishops Ordained for Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan". 7 June 2006. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  5. ^ David M. Cheney. "Bishop Athanasius Schneider [Catholic-Hierarchy]". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 January 2010. Retrieved 21 February 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Kokx, Stephen (7 November 2018). "Bishop Schneider explains Vatican's restrictions on his travel". Life Site News. Retrieved 12 November 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ a b Voris, Michael (14 August 2015). "CM Exclusive: Bishop Schneider Clarifies". Church Militant. Retrieved 8 August 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ a b c Atkinson, Sarah (6 June 2014). "Bishop Athanasius Schneider: 'We are in the fourth great crisis of the Church'". The Catholic Herald. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  10. ^ a b "News Features". Catholic Culture. 22 April 2008. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  11. ^ Cf. § Bibliography
  12. ^ Latin Mass Society of England and Wales: "Interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider" Archived 20 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine May 2014
  13. ^ Flynn, J.D. (1 February 2008). "Communion in hand should be revised, Vatican official says". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 6 August 2019. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  14. ^ "Vatican Newspaper Article Says Catholics Should Receive Communion Kneeling and on the Tongue | Mary\'s Anawim". 16 March 2009. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Bishop Schneider: priests must resist pressure on Communion for remarried". The Catholic Herald. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  16. ^ Allen, John; Giangravé, Claire (7 April 2018). "Amoris' critics at Rome summit beg pope, bishops, 'Confirm us in the faith!'". Crux Now. Retrieved 9 August 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  17. ^ Pentin, Edward (25 August 2018). "Ex-nuncio accuses Pope Francis of failing to act on McCarrick's abuse reports". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  18. ^ Winfield, Nicole (26 August 2018). "Pope on McCarrick claims: "I won't say a word about it."". The Kansas City Star. Associated Press. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  19. ^ Schmitz, Matthew (27 August 2018). "A Catholic Civil War?". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Statement in Response to "Testimony" of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States". Archdiocese of Newark website. 27 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  21. ^ O'Connell, Patrick M. (2 August 2018). "Cardinal Cupich defends his record, Pope Francis in response to former Vatican official". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Statement from Bishop Thomas Olmsted Regarding Archbishop Viganò's Recent Testimony". Diocese of Phoenix website. 28 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Statement from Bishop Robert C. Morlino" (PDF). Diocese of Madison website. 27 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  24. ^ Schneider, Athanasius (27 August 2018). "Reflection on the 'Testimony' of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  25. ^ a b Montagna, Diane (7 March 2019). "EXCLUSIVE: Bishop Schneider wins clarification on "diversity of religions" from Pope Francis, brands abuse summit a "failure"". Life Site News. Retrieved 8 March 2019. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  26. ^ a b Dorothy Cummings McLean, Bishop: Mass migration part of plan to water down Europe’s Christian identity dated 2 July 2018 at, accessed 7 July 2018
  27. ^ Duncan, Robert (15 January 2013). "Bishop Athanasius Schneider on religious liberty". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 1 July 2019. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  28. ^ Montagna, Diane (8 February 2019). "Bishop Schneider on Pope's statement with Muslims: 'Christianity is the only God-willed religion'". Life Site News. Retrieved 8 February 2019. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  29. ^ "Bishop calls for new document correcting misinterpretations of Vatican II". Catholic Culture (Catholic World News). 21 January 2011.
  30. ^ "Bishop Schneider speaks again, this time on Vatican II – In Caelo et in Terra". 27 January 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  31. ^ "Proposals for a Correct Reading of the Second Vatican Council". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  32. ^ Pentin, Edward (10 June 2019). "New 'Declaration of Truths' Affirms Key Church Teachings". June 20, 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  33. ^ Pentin, Edward (12 September 2019). "Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider Announce Crusade of Prayer and Fasting". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 13 September 2019.



Three lectures, a sermon and an exclusive interview. Hungarian and English language e-book version: (For the English version, see page 77)

  • Schneider, Athanasius; Fülep Dániel (July 2018). CATHOLIC CHURCH: WHERE ARE YOU HEADING?, Interview book, Theologian Dániel Fülep's interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana. The e-book is free download. Hungarian Electronic Library

External links[edit]