Bishop Schneider: ‘Amoris Laetitia’ Demands Clarification


Bishop Athanasius Schneider has given a lengthy reflection on Amoris Laetitia in which he makes a consistent case for the need for clarity and precision in the text, particularly with regard to admitting civilly remarried divorcees to Holy Communion.

The bishop’s reflection is a studied, detailed and forceful response that argues against those who see the papal summary of the Synods on the Family as “opening the door” to Holy Communion for remarried divorcees and other practices that would not be consistent with the Church’s constant magisterium.

The Kazakh prelate, who has led resistance to what many see as modernist and secularist strains within both the synods and Amoris Laetitia, strongly affirms the Church’s perennial teaching in these areas, and warns that ambiguous passages could have “dangerous spiritual consequences.”

He says unclear statements in Chapter 8 of the document have given “a new dynamism” to those supportive of admitting remarried divorcees to Holy Communion, and abuse is already “beginning to spread even more in practice, since those in favor of it are now feeling justified to some extent.”

He then draws an analogy between the situation today and the Arian crisis of the 4th century when great confusion reigned because of similar ambiguities and omissions in Arian formulas. Perhaps hinting towards action he and others might take, Bishop Schneider recalls how St. Hilary of Poitiers was the only bishop who dared rebuke Pope Liberius when he excommunicated St. Athanasius for defending the Church against the Arian heresy — a heresy, in fact, which some see as resurgent in today’s Church.

Also in his reflection, Bishop Schneider makes a specific call on the laity to fight to protect the Church and her teaching. And quoting Dominican Bishop Melchior Cano from the Council of Trent, he also chastises those who flatter the Pope, “close their eyes to the facts” and indiscriminately defend every papal decision. Such people, Bishop Schneider quotes Cano as saying, “contribute most to undermining the authority of the Holy See. They destroy its foundations instead of strengthening them.”

He calls for a “Veritatis Laetitia” (Joy of Truth) and ends by appealing to the Pope to issue “an authentic interpretation” of the exhortation. Such clarity, he said, will ensure the document would be not attune to the minds of men, “but to the mind of God”.

“When it is a question of the life or death of the body, no physician would express his opinions in an ambiguous manner,” Bishops Schneider writes. “Such behavior on the part of a doctor would very likely be considered irresponsible. And yet, the life of our immortal soul is more important, since it is on the health of the soul that its fate for eternity depends.”