Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pope Francis and Sharing the Eucharist with Non-Catholics: A Lesson in Evangelization

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It seems hardly a day goes by that the Catholic blogosphere is not in an uproar over some statement or action by someone whom they feel is threatening to destroy the Church. The offender is more than likely a member of the Church hierarchy - priest, bishop, cardinal. Of course the ranting and raving really starts when the guilty party is Pope Francis. A standard prayer of Catholic bloggers seems to be that Pope Francis be permanently silenced - not that they wish him any harm!

One of the latest items of contention is the Holy Father's answer to a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic. The question, as translated by Edward Pentin from Italian into English, was as follows:
My name is Anke de Bernardinis and, like many people in our community, I'm married to an Italian, who is a Roman Catholic Christian. We’ve lived happily together for many years, sharing joys and sorrows. And so we greatly regret being divided in faith and not being able to participate in the Lord's Supper together. What can we do to achieve, finally, communion on this point?
Before I get to the "offensive" response by Pope Francis, it is important to take a closer look at this question.  Here is a Lutheran woman who has been happily married to a Catholic man for many years.  As she relates, it is a great sadness to her and her husband that they do not share the same faith, and more specifically, that they cannot participate in the "Lord's Supper" together.  She is asking the earthly head of the Catholic Church how they can achieve this unity.

Nearly every Catholic blogger has said the answer is simple: become a Catholic! And certainly that is true. But look again at the question. The woman has been married to a Catholic for many years. We can safely assume that she and her husband have discussed this division between them, and her husband, and many others no doubt, told her that only members in good standing in the Church can participate in the Sacraments. But she has not, as far as we can tell, made any moves to become Catholic. The fact that she is talking with the Pope and asking him questions shows that she has respect for the Catholic Church. But up this point, that has not been enough to give her the courage to walk away from her own faith and become a Catholic. She wants to know how she and her husband get over this seemingly insurmountable barrier between them.

Pope Francis obviously took all of this into account when he answered her. His goal - as should be the goal of all of us - is to bring people into the church, not set up roadblocks that will keep them out. The Holy Father could have taken the easy way out and given the technically correct answer that she had no doubt heard many times before. Pope Francis wanted to do something that would make her take that step she has feared for so many years:  to think outside her own personal box and to approach the problem in a different way, since obviously what she has been doing has not been working.

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First Pope Francis joked about being afraid to speak out in the presence of well respected theologians such as Cardinal Walter Kasper.  This got under the skin of not a few bloggers.  Nonetheless, even though Cardinal Kasper is wrong about communion for divorced and remarried, he is still a very learned and respected theologian. After all, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed Cardinal Kasper as President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Pope Benedict obviously had high respect for the Cardinal, the Catholic blogosphere notwithstanding.

Pope Francis then gave a short meditation on the Eucharist:
I think of how the Lord told us when he gave us this command to “do this in memory of me,” and when we share the Lord’s Supper, we recall and we imitate the same as the Lord. 
As Pope Francis said, we have this command from Christ to "do this in memory of me".   It is interesting to note that Pope Francis uses the word "Lord's Supper."  Many bloggers were upset by the Pope's use of this expression because it is seen as Protestant.  However, this is the expression used by the woman.  Therefore, Pope Francis is talking in a language that she will understand and which will not alienate her from the rest of his explanation. Again, the Pope is trying to bring this woman to the truth, not set up walls and roadblocks, unlike so many who are more concerned about being "right" than bringing others to the truth.    

The Holy Father explains that by partaking in the Lord's Supper, we recall and imitate His actions. Pope Francis is explaining that sharing communion is not something we do on our own because it seems like a good thing to do.  We do it because it is a command from Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis goes on to explain that this command is not just about looking back 2000 years ago, but also looking forward to the new Jerusalem when there will be another "Lord's Supper" - the "eternal banquet" when the saints receive their heavenly reward:
And there will be the Lord’s Supper, there will be the eternal banquet in the new Jerusalem, but that will be the last one.
Pope Francis says he asks himself what is the purpose of the Lord's Supper for the time in which we live, the time between the first Lord's Supper and the eternal banquet in the new Jerusalem:
In the meantime, I ask myself — and don’t know how to respond — what you’re asking me, I ask myself the question. To share the Lord’s banquet: is it the goal of the path or is it the viaticum [provisions] for walking together?
Pope Francis wonders what is the purpose of the Lord's Supper: is it our ultimate goal, our reward for obeying Christ, or is it the means by which we walk and are united together in obedience to Christ? Father John Zuhlsdorf, in a rather flippant comment, replied to this by saying: "Ummm… it’s not that hard. It’s both."  As Pope Francis says, our ultimate reward will be the "eternal banquet in the new Jerusalem," but what is the purpose of the Eucharist in this life?  Is the Eucharist our reward now, or is it the means by which we will receive our ultimate reward?

Quoting Pope St. John Paul II (Homily given on June 1, 1997 to the 46th International Eucharistic Congress):
These are words which concern the very essence of the Eucharist. Behold, Christ came into the world to bestow upon man divine life. He not only proclaimed the Good News but He also instituted the Eucharist which is to make present until the end of time His redeeming mystery. And as the means of expressing this He chose the elements of nature - the bread and wine, the food and drink that man must consume to maintain his life. The Eucharist is precisely this food and drink. This food contains in itself all the power of the Redemption wrought by Christ. In order to live man needs food and drink. In order to gain eternal life man needs the Eucharist. This is the food and drink that transforms man's life and opens before him the way to eternal life. By consuming the Body and Blood of Christ, man bears within himself, already on this earth, the seed of eternal life, for the Eucharist is the sacrament of life in God. Christ says: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me." (Jn 6:57).
Certainly no one who is not in a state of grace should be allowed to receive the Eucharist, but as Pope St. John Paul II told us, we must receive the Eucharist in order to stay in that state of grace.  It is a hard mystery, and as Pope Francis said:
I leave that question to the theologians and those who understand.
Of course, in this statement, Pope Francis is implying that no human being has a complete understanding of the great mystery of the Eucharist just as no human being can fully understand God Himself, Father Z notwithstanding.

As Pope Francis next explains, when we say we share, that means there are no differences between us, that we all have the same doctrine:
It’s true that in a certain sense, to share means there aren’t differences between us, that we have the same doctrine – underscoring that word, a difficult word to understand — but I ask myself: but don’t we have the same Baptism? If we have the same Baptism, shouldn’t we be walking together? You’re a witness also of a profound journey, a journey of marriage: a journey really of the family and human love and of a shared faith, no? We have the same Baptism.
As Pope Francis explains here, all Christian churches share in the understanding of baptism as an act of the Holy Spirit which rescues us from our sin and brings us into union with God. We all share in this same doctrine. Therefore, "shouldn't we be walking together?" 

Pope Francis points out the woman's marriage as an example of this profound mystery. Even though she is Lutheran and her husband is Catholic, they have walked together in the journey of marriage: "a journey really of the family and human love and of a shared faith, no? We have the same Baptism." Because the woman and her husband share in the same baptism, they are able, despite their religious differences, to walk together. This shows the power of the Holy Spirit, which cleansed them both in baptism.

Pope Francis says that this mystery makes it very difficult for him to understand what doctrine really means.  How is that all Christians can share in the basic doctrine of baptism, and yet be separate?

Father Zuhlsdorf, again in his flippant way, dismisses this profound statement by writing:
“doctrine” is difficult to understand? How about “That which is taught. Christian doctrine ordinarily means that body of revealed and defined truth which a Catholic is bound to hold, but is often extended to include those teachings which are not of faith but are generally held and acted upon. Occasionally the word indicates these last only, “the teachings of theologians,” as distinct from “the faith taught by the Church.” – The Catholic Dictionary – Is there more to say? Sure. But that’s a start.
This statement clearly shows that Father Zuhlsdorf is not understanding the Holy Father at all, and he is doing his readers a great disservice with his casual dismissal of the words of Pope Francis.

Pope Francis goes on to state that all Christians also have a shared understanding of what it means to be forgiven by the Lord:
When you feel yourself to be a sinner – and I feel more of a sinner – when your husband feels a sinner, you go to the Lord and ask forgiveness; your husband does the same and also goes to the priest and asks absolution. I’m healed to keep alive the Baptism. When you pray together, that Baptism grows, becomes stronger. When you teach your kids who Jesus is, why Jesus came, what Jesus did for us, you’re doing the same thing, whether in the Lutheran language or the Catholic one, but it’s the same. 
As the Pope explains, the woman, when she feels she has sinned, goes to the Lord and asks for forgiveness.  As a Catholic, her husband does the same by going to the priest and asking for absolution.  Father Z flips off this statement by Pope Francis, again showing his refusal to accept anything which does not fit in with his personal beliefs:
The Sacrament of Penance is the means given to us by Christ Himself, the means by which HE desires for us to seek forigivness [sic] and reconciliation.
Wow - Father Z does enjoy giving it to Pope Francis. Does Father Zuhlsdorf truly believe that those who do not have access to the Sacrament of Penance are thus denied the forgiveness of Jesus Christ? If that is the case, then baptism outside of the Catholic Church would not be valid in wiping away sins either. We know this is not true because the Church herself recognizes the validity of Protestant baptism. Why would Our Lord recognize baptisms outside of the Church and then deny forgiveness to those same people?

Pope Francis tells us that the forgiveness received by the Lutheran woman and Catholic man keeps their Baptisms alive.  When they pray together, their Baptisms become stronger.  Because they are both validly baptized, they can both teach their children about the mission of Christ and what He does for us, whether in the "Lutheran language" or the "Catholic one."  As Pope Francis says, they are united in their understanding of the message of Jesus because they are both validly baptized.

Father Zuhlsdorf seems to refuse to accept this teaching by the Holy Father.  His response is:
What Jesus did for us.. okay… but how we participate in what Jesus did for us is different.
Certainly the Pope is saying that the way in which we participate in the Gospel is different. Only the Catholic Church has the fullness of the truth and the complete sacraments.  However, Pope Francis says that since Protestants and Catholics are both validly baptized, we are on the same road and therefore have a common understanding, a message which is rejected by Father Zuhlsdorf and most other Catholic bloggers.

Pope Francis then gets to the central question:
The question: and the [Lord’s] Supper? There are questions that, only if one is sincere with oneself and with the little theological light one has, must be responded to on one’s own. See for yourself. This is my body. This is my blood. Do it in remembrance of me – this is a viaticum that helps us to journey on.
By first explaining that our shared baptism puts all Christians on the same road, having all been forgiven of our sins, we are then required to make a personal response to the meaning of the Lord's Supper. However, the Holy Father warns us that we must be sincere with ourselves and our own level of spiritual understanding. As the Pope warns, we must listen to Christ when He says, "This is my body. This is my blood. Do it in remembrance of me - this is a viaticum that helps us to journey on." Pope Francis is warning us that this cannot be taken lightly but with great thought and reflection.

The Holy Father then gives us an example from his own life:
I once had a great friendship with an Episcopalian bishop who went a little wrong – he was 48 years old, married, two children. This was a discomfort to him – a Catholic wife, Catholic children, him a bishop. He accompanied his wife and children to Mass on Sunday, and then went to worship with his community. It was a step of participation in the Lord’s Supper. Then he went forward, the Lord called him, a just man. 
Pope Francis and Tony Palmer
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 Pope Francis is talking about Tony Palmer, an Anglican bishop who was married with a Catholic wife and Catholic children.  This bishop would actually go to Catholic Mass with his family on Sunday, and then afterwards would go to services in the  Episcopal church.  A little history of Tony Palmer from The Boston Globe:
An articulate, laid-back, jovial South African in his early fifties, with a penchant for quirky clerical clothes, Palmer didn’t look or sound much like a conventional Anglican bishop. When I first met him in May, at a coffee shop in Bath, close to where he lived with his family, he explained that he had been ordained by the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, or CEEC, whose presiding bishop is in Florida.
The CEEC, which was formed in the 1990s, is Anglican. Yet unlike the Episcopal Church in the United States, it’s not part of the Anglican Communion loyal to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Its leaders see themselves as part of a “convergence” movement, seeking to combine evangelical Christianity with the liturgy and sacraments typical of Catholicism.
That convergence, Palmer told me, “is a precursor to full unity between the Protestant and Catholic Churches.”
Tony Palmer's wife converted to Catholicism while she was married to him.  They raised their children as Catholics.  Even though he remained Anglican, as noted above, Palmer worked to bring Catholics and Protestants together.

As Pope Francis explains, this "was a step of participation in the Lord's Supper."  Pope Francis had actually told Tony Palmer not to convert to Catholicism because the Holy Father felt the Episcopal Bishop would be more effective as an Episcopalian in bringing unity to the Christian world.  As Bishop Palmer explained:  “[Bergoglio] told me that we need to have bridge-builders. He counseled me not to take the step because it looked like I was choosing a side and I would cease to be a bridge-builder.

Pope Francis told the Lutheran woman, "Then he went forward, the Lord called him, a just man." (Father Z's comment to "he went forward" - [?!?] - shows his complete lack of understanding.) Pope Francis believes that even though Tony Palmer was not officially Catholic, he nonetheless died in full communion with Jesus Christ, a "just man".  A Catholic Requiem Mass was even said at Bishop Palmer's funeral in Bath, England.

The point of this story is that we cannot dictate how God will work in our lives and use us to bring the saving Gospel to others.  As Pope Francis explained,  God used Tony Palmer as an Anglican. Who are we to say how God, in his great wisdom and understanding, will use us?

The Holy Father ended his comments to the Lutheran woman by saying:
To your question, I can only respond with a question: what can I do with my husband, because the Lord’s Supper accompanies me on my path?

It’s a problem each must answer, but a pastor-friend once told me: “We believe that the Lord is present there, he is present. You all believe that the Lord is present. And so what's the difference?” — “Eh, there are explanations, interpretations.” Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations. Always refer back to your baptism. “One faith, one baptism, one Lord.” This is what Paul tells us, and then take the consequences from there. I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.
In answering the question of a Lutheran receiving communion in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis first tried to show the ways in which we are united:  in our baptism, in seeking forgiveness of sins, in our understanding of the Gospel.  As the Holy Father summarizes above, "One faith, one baptism, one Lord."  As he says, despite the fact that we do share the basic foundations of Christianity, Pope Francis "wouldn't ever dare to allow" a non-Catholic to receive communion in the Catholic Church - as he says, it is not his competence.  Yet he still manages to allow the door to be open by saying "talk to the Lord and then go forward."

Pope Francis has given us a valuable lesson on how to talk to those outside of the Church.  Try to stress the ways in which we agree, emphasize those ways in which the other person is truly seeking Christ.  Show the universality of the Gospel message, that it is not just for Catholics but for all people.  Remember, being a Christian is not about proving who is right, but about saving people from their sins, bringing them to the eternal love of Jesus Christ.  This is exactly what Pope Francis did in this situation.

How sad that the Catholic blogosphere, in their prejudice and self righteousness, completely missed this message.  To follow these Catholics is to continue to erect walls between people and to block the effectiveness of the Gospel.

This is also Pope Francis showing his complete trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit of those who are truly seeking God.  Pope Francis believes Jesus Christ when He said, "Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened."  So this is exactly what his answered involved:  he told the Lutheran woman to seek for the truth - "Talk to the Lord and go forward" - in the sure confidence that if she is sincerely seeking, she will find the truth.

Now if only the Catholic blogosphere would start seeking the truth with a sincere heart instead of sitting in judgment of every word and action that doesn't meet with their self-righteous approval.

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21 comments:

  1. Well I must say, you have an excellent perspective on things - more and more I'm appreciating your insights. God bless you!

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    1. I do wish those who comment on Pope Francis or anyone else would take the time to think about what is actually said instead of just giving knee jerk reactions which originate in our own prejudices. The Catholic blogosphere has become one big scandal, extremely dangerous to the faith.

      Thanks for your kind words, Terry. I do appreciate it.

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    2. Uh oh, C in B: fundamentalist sighting - Cardinal Sarah responds to Pope's comment on interfaith communion.

      http://aleteia.org/2015/11/30/cardinal-sarah-and-bishop-schneider-respond-to-pope-francis-comments-on-intercommunion/

      I would say Cardinal Sarah is engaging in knee jerk reactions originating in his own prejudices. Perhaps he hasn't had time to read your blog. And we won't mention that horrid rad trad Bishop Scheider.

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    3. I wonder if you actually read the pope's statement or my post on his statement. If you did, you would know that the questions asked in the interview you cited reflect a complete misinterpretation of the Pope's comments.

      Nowhere did the Pope say that the Lutheran woman could receive communion in the Catholic Church as a Lutheran. In fact, he specifically said that he could not give her permission to do so. Nowhere did he tell her to follow her conscience. His advice was to go to Lord, which of course would mean to pray about it, and then to "go forward." Everyone immediately assumed that meant "go to communion." Again, that is NOT what Pope Francis said.

      Going forward means following the lead of the Holy Spirit and of the Head of the Church - Jesus Christ. Unlike those who criticize and misinterpret his words, Pope Francis obviously believes Jesus Christ when He said that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Pope Francis was telling the woman to seek Christ with a sincere heart, and she would find Him. If she is truly seeking Jesus Christ, Pope Francis knows that would eventually lead her to become a member of the Catholic Church, and then she could receive Communion with her husband. But he did not say that to her because that would set up roadblocks in her mind. He only told her the first part: seek the Lord and go forward. That is all she needs to know. If she is sincere, the rest will follow.

      Pope Francis was talking to a woman who was very well aware of the church's teaching - she has been married to a Catholic for many years. She wants to be united with her Catholic husband, but doesn't seem to want to leave the Lutheran church. Pope Francis was gently leading her in the right direction, one step at a time. That first step is: seek the Lord. He did not go any further than that, and that is the lesson we need to learn when engaging with those outside of the Church. The idea is to bring people to the truth, not turn them away.

      As far as the answers given by Cardinal Sarah and Bishop Schneider, I did find them revealing. Cardinal Sarah gave textbook answers to the questions. He recited the teachings of the church in response to the questions asked, and the answers were absolutely correct. I do find it very interesting that nowhere does Cardinal Sarah mention Pope Francis. He merely answers the questions posed to him, adding no editorial comment. The problem with this interview was not Cardinal Sarah but the questions, because as I stated, the interviewer showed a complete misunderstanding of the pope's statements. I would love to see the entire interview rather than the snippets we were given.

      With Bishop Schneider, we are not given direct questions and answers as with Cardinal Sarah. Bishop Schneider, unlike Cardinal Sarah, was all about editorializing. He does not tell us anything about the teaching of the church, only that we don't need to listen to the pope if we don't agree with him. With all due respect, Bishop Schneider doesn't know what he is talking about here. As I have shown, he has completely misread and misinterpreted the words of Pope Francis, and as a result, he is misleading all those who listen to him. Pope Francis wants to remove roadblocks to people coming into the church. Bishop Schneider, as are most trads, is more interested in putting up roadblocks. Evangelizing is all about leading people to Christ, not just setting everything up as black and white, my way or the high way.

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    4. Dear C in B!

      I really don't think you are privy to Bishop Schneider's internal motivations! Certainly not if you think he is trying to put up obstacles. I think the man only wishes that the Holy Father's words would generate insight rather than confusion and fog! If you are correct in your interpretation of Francis' words, then you are kind of alone in being right. That per se proves that he doesn't speak very clearly. Or maybe he does....

      In 2014 he was reported to have called an Argentinian woman-- shacked up with a married man- and told her: 'a little bread and wine do no harm'. Do you accept this as genuine Francis talk? It sounds pretty genuine to me.

      Or do you see it as genuine and genuinely good counsel? As you might guess I think his verbiage alone reflects a rather flippant attitude towards the Holy Eucharist.

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    5. If you had been a Jew living in the first century with Jesus Christ, you no doubt would have accused him of generating confusion and fog. Telling people that they needed to eat his body and drink his blood, refusing to condemn a woman taken in the very act of adultery, ignoring the rules of Judiasm such as the ceremonial washing of hands, picking corn on the Sabbath, socializing with non Jews and known sinners. And calling Himself the Son of God, saying He is the Way, the Truth, the Light.

      My point is that the reason you find Pope Francis "confusing" is that you are listening to him with preconceived ideas. You feel you know all the answers and so if he doesn't give those answers and act the way YOU think he should act, then he is wrong. And there is little doubt you would have done the same with Jesus Christ. Everything Pope Francis does and says has the goal of leading people to Jesus Christ. If you can begin to think in those terms, instead of making your own preconceived ideas of right and wrong the goal, you will start to understand the Holy Father, just as First Century Jews would have understood Jesus Christ if they had looked beyond their rules and regulations to the love and mercy that was in all of Jesus' actions and words. First Century Jews could not understand Jesus Christ because they filtered everything he said and did through their own personal ideas of right and wrong instead of allowing Him to teach them.

      You have made yourself judge and juror of Pope Francis instead of listening honestly and with a mind open to truth and love. That is why you find him "confusing" instead of realizing he is a very holy man filled with the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

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    6. Well!! That part about me being a sinner is certainly true! Thanks for the reminder!

      Also forgive me for not wishing you a Merry Christmas. Tomorrow, Christmas day,I'm sending my two teenage daughters off to see his Holiness. If you would say a little prayer for their safety I would be much obliged!

      I certainly intend to respond to your valiant defense of the his Holiness' puzzling ways. Just not on this happy occasion.

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    7. Merry Christmas to you and yours, C in B!

      If it is not too late-and I cede to your judgment if it is- I would like to revisit your attack on Bishop Schneider. You said he is more interested in putting up obstacles to people returning to the Church. Perhaps you jumped to a conclusion? Perhaps not....just kindly tell me what it is you are talking about. Maybe I am wrong about the man?

      In his defense, I know he is very concerned about Muslims and how Catholic irreverence towards the Eucharist presents a damaging witness to Muslims-his diocese is 70% Muslim- who DO know the difference between things that are holy and things that aren't. What am I missing?

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    8. ...also..just remembered....Bishop Schneider was not long ago appointed by Pope Francis, to be--alongwith Cardinal Brandmuller-- to be the Pope's emissaries in reconciling thousands of SSPX to the Church.

      Really!! How can you say he is trying to keep people out?

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    9. I use to be a strong supporter of Bishop Schneider. I have attended a Pontifical Mass in which he was the celebrant, attended one of his talks, and have a personally autographed copy of his book.

      But that was back when I was a true blue traditionalist, believing that the TLM was the salvation of the world, and anyone who did not feel that way was basically a heretic. The reason I was drawn to Bishop Schneider is because he, too, is in complete lockstep with the traditionalist mindset.

      This past August I wrote a post in which I discussed Father Z's posting about an interview with Bishop Schneider My post can be found here, if you would like to take a look at it:

      http://catholicinbrooklyn.blogspot.com/2015/08/father-z-tells-traditionalists-they-can.html

      As I pointed out in my post, in that interview, Bishop Schneider condemned his fellow bishops and other hierarchy in the Church, and told traditionalists that they were the salvation of the church. Read his comment:

      "I would like to say to these priests, seminarians, young people and families: “It is an honor and a privilege to be faithful to the Divine truth and to the spiritual and liturgical traditions of our forefathers and of the saints and being therefore marginalized by those who currently occupy administrative power in the Church. This your fidelity and courage constitute the real power in the Church. You are the real ecclesiastical periphery, which with God’s power renews the Church. Living the true tradition of dogma, liturgy and holiness is a manifestation of the democracy of the Saints, because tradition is the democracy of the Saints. With Saint Athanasius I would like to tell you these words: (cf. Letter to his flock)”.

      ""Those in the Church who oppose, humiliate and marginalize you, have occupied the churches, while during this time you are outside; it is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the Apostolic Faith. They claim that they represent the Church, but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray."

      Personally, I think it is unconscionable that a bishop of the church should be basically telling laity that they have not only a right but a duty to rebel against the hierarchy of the Church, for this is exactly what he is saying in this quote. He is telling trads that they constitute the real church and all who disagree with them are a great false church which must be rejected. And he uses the words of a great saint to back up his point, which is a great dishonor to St. Athanasius.

      It is not our duty and certainly not our right to rebel against the hierarchy of the Church, and most certainly not against the Magesterium. Bishop Schneider further proves that he is against his fellow bishops by giving interviews to radical traditional websites such as Rorate Coeli, and to bomb throwers like Michael Voris.

      I understand that Bishop Schneider was appointed by Pope Francis, and I think it is great that the Holy Father reached out to him in this way. But that does not change the heretical and scandalous nature of his words.

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    10. Dear C i B!

      With all due respect, you have changed the subject. Allow me a recap:

      1.You accused Bishop Schneider of wanting to put up obstacles to reconciling people to the Catholic Faith/Church.

      2. I asked you for proof and

      3. you give me this? Him giving words of encouragement to traditionalists? I really don't understand. How does that keep anyone OUT of the Church!!? Robert Hughes Benson, a favorite author of Francis', once made the point that 19th Cty Anglo Catholicism allowed the Church of England to re-connect with many of the lower classes i.e. smells and bells attract people, especially the poor. I'm afraid your proof is a non-sequitur.

      Furthermore, I highly doubt that you, even when you were in your most judgmental-traditional phase, or any of your little cabal of mantilla wearing -[as the Holy Father would dub you]- 'parrot Christians' were ever wanting to keep even one sinful soul away from the Catholic Faith.

      But let me, for the sake of argument, grant that you were. It still doesn't follow that just because YOU were scheming to keep certain people away from Church, that therefore ALL and EVERY traditionalist must also be in on it.

      I'm sorry, but if you are going to convince me that Athanasius Schneider is in on your old obstacle scheme, then you are going to have to do better than that! Otherwise,it might be better to admit that--in your zeal-- you misspoke.

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    11. I would ask that you go back and read my post again, and see how wise Pope Francis was in talking to the Lutheran woman. This is a woman who wants very much to be able to partake in communion with her Catholic husband, and is asking for a way to do so. All Catholics know that only Catholics in a state of grace can partake in Holy Communion. Pope Francis wants her to get to that point, and how does he do it? He emphasized the beliefs Catholics and Lutherans share in common, emphasizing their common baptism, the fact that both religions believe in the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis did all he could to build the bridge that this woman needs to walk to get to the Catholic Church. She is the one who has to make the final decision to walk that bridge, but the Holy Father made it as accessible to her as he could.

      How does Bishop Schneider propose the Holy Father approach this woman? He believes it is very important to emphasize the great differences between the two churches:

      "Bishop Schneider was similarly forthright about the issue, saying the Church must be “very clear with the Protestants, not hiding anything.”

      “We read in the Second Vatican Council document that real ecumenism is not irenicism, but sincere dialogue in which we hide nothing of our identity.” He added that any gesture which is “not clear, not sincere, and ambiguous will never help true ecumenism” on “every level.”

      He said “pastors and shepherds” have to be “very careful” in their pronouncements not to “create ambiguity and confusion among the people,” leading them to believe that “Catholic and Protestant doctrine are basically the same, with only minor differences.”

      “This is not true. It does not respond to reality or to the Gospel. All the truths of the Catholic Church are the truths of the Gospel. And those Catholic doctrines which Protestants deny are against the Gospel. We have to speak clearly.”


      Certainly everything the bishop said is true, but is evangelizing all about telling other people that they are heretics and unless they immediately denounce everything they have held so dearly, they will go to hell? Or is it better to to do as the Pope does and tell her that she is basically on the right path, but she needs to pray earnestly to the Holy Spirit to show her the way to go? The Pope believes the Holy Spirit will lead her to the truth. Do you?

      Obviously Bishop Schneider does not believe that, as he tells us we don't have to listen to the Holy Father:

      "Regarding the pope’s words to the Lutheran woman, he also said it’s important not to exaggerate the infallibility of the popes. In his usual gestures and expressions, the pope doesn’t intend to “oblige, or to impose” the faithful to believe what he is expressing.

      “I am convinced that Pope Francis is not against when someone says to him: ‘Holy Father, I do not agree with this expression. You have not said you oblige me to accept this, because it is not your intention to speak definitively. So we can be in a reverent dialogue with you to clear up these issues.’”

      He added: “I think we need to be in a climate of dialogue which is free of intimidation. Otherwise, this will be an atmosphere of dictatorship, and I think Pope Francis does not like to be considered as creating an atmosphere of inquisition, dictatorship or persecution of someone who expresses reasoned thoughts and opinions.”


      As I wrote, Bishop Schneider has many times now condemned his fellow bishops. Is that building bridges? You say he is "encouraging" traditionalists. Well, it is a bit more than that. He has made it very clear that he believes the only true Catholics are traditionalists, and the rest of us are headed on the road to damnation.

      When I was a trad, I never consciously thought I was putting up roadblocks to others. But my constant judging and condemnation of anyone who didn't believe exactly as I did was one of the worst roadblocks of all.

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    12. CIB<>

      Dear Lady! I'm afraid there is a problem with this admission. i.e. you --left and right-- level accusations at and say you have every right to judge traditionalists because you were once one. Now, it turns out, your traditional self was never interested in putting up roadblocks to people reconciling with the Catholic Church...but that still doesn't stop you from breezily accusing Bishop Schneider of engaging in that sheer evil. On what basis? Your only retort is for me to re-read your original post or read an old post which not only yields no basis for your original calumny, but itself contains at least one additional, baseless, accusation--presumably for me to start chasing down so I'll forget about the former!

      Regarding your other accusation: Bishop Schneider condemns Novus Ordo Catholics to hell....well, I have news for you. I'm a Novus Ordo Catholic. I may have attended five Latin Masses total. Zero since 2009. So you are saying he says my family and I are going to hell for that? Thankfully, I don't need to chase down too many rabbit holes on this one. I've read Bishop Schneider's interviews and essays religiously since 2008 when he convinced the Holy Father to reintroduce kneeling for Communion. I've not seen that anywhere in Schneider's statements!

      Forgive my bluntness, but I don't believe two, or even a million half truths can add up to one whole truth. You have accused Bishop Schneider of being evil. You should either
      a)prove your accusation, or
      b)have the integrity withdraw it.


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    13. We are going in circles, and it is obvious that facts mean nothing to you. If you want to believe, like Bishop Scheider, that you don't need to listen to the Holy Father, then have at it . II choose to listen to the one to whom the keys of the kingdom have been given.

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  2. You don't find it concerning that a cleric of the Universal Church would council a non-Catholic not to become Catholic? He isn't even a REAL bishop like an Orthodox bishop would be. How is he bridge builder if he has no true Eucharist or Apostolic Succession?

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    1. Again, the key to understanding this is to actually read the Pope's words and see them in context and not listen to all of the hype.

      Bishop Palmer was an Anglican bishop whose wife converted to Catholicism and who raised his kids as Catholics. He would actually go to Catholic Mass every Sunday with his family before going to the Anglican church. As he said, his ministry was about establishing full unity between the Protestant and Catholic churches. As Bishop Palmer explained: “[Bergoglio] told me that we need to have bridge-builders. He counseled me not to take the step because it looked like I was choosing a side and I would cease to be a bridge-builder.” As can be seen from this statement, Cardinal Bergoglio at that time felt Palmer could do far more good in bringing people to the fullness of the truth in the Catholic Church as an Anglican than as a Catholic.

      As Pope Francis explained to the Lutheran woman, even though he was not officially Catholic, Bishop Palmer died a "just man", probably more Catholic than many who are baptized members of the Church. He was even given a Catholic funeral.

      The lesson we need to learn from Pope Francis is that we can't tell God how to work. We must always remain open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and follow His lead. The example I have given so many times is the ancient Israelites who were led out of Egypt into what seemed a sure death trap between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army - sure death either by drowning or Pharaoh's army. Yet, this was God's great plan to show his salvation to the Israelites by dividing the Red Sea and allowing the Israelites to escape. As God says, my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts (Isa. 55:8).

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  3. After reading a Nat.Geographic article on The Virgin Mary, and subsequently turning to the WWW for photos of Juan Diego's tilma upon which She inprinted Her image, I happened upon this blog.

    CIB, I must let you know first off that I was raised Presbyterian and that I've attended services in many denominations of Houses of Worship; Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Mennonite, Amish, non-Denomination, Southern Baptist and Pentecostal, to name a few.

    Though I cannot define WHY, only one thing has temained a constant in my heart: a deep, inexplicably powerful and strong adoration for the Pope which began the moment I matured enough to fully understand who/what the Pope IS.

    From scientific to Biblical to Hollywood-borne to non-ficticious investigations, Religion and Jesus and The Blessed Virgin have undeniably moved and deeply intrigued me. NOT to prove or disprove, but to LEARN. A feeling of 'I've been there' is persistant, so much so that no matter where I worship it never 'feels right' as much as it does when I am alone, quiet, in prayer.

    I do not know anything about this Bishop you all are arguing about. I BARELY know details about Pope Francis. But never - EVER - has a Pope moved me to tears. Never before have I sat glued to my TV while awaiting the news that the world has a new Pope. Never have I ever had to pause while reading about the new Pope, in entire Nat. Geographic issue devoted to him. And never EVER before have I felt hope for the faithful, for humanity, and for religion as a whole, as I do with Pope Francis as our Pope.

    I am only 1 woman. I am, in all rights and respects, a nobody. In God's eyes, I'm somebody but, here on earth and in the world's eyes, I'm only 1 of billions of blips on the radar of life. But through my life's trials and joys I've never wavered from my belief that God exists and Angels walk the earth.

    Jesus died for me and in Sept.'85 I gave my life to Him. In 1987 I almost died; I believe I stayed alive to continue to spread His word. In 1990 my 2nd son was born and in 1991 my daughter was bron. In 1997 my youngest was born. All of my children were seen laughing, 'playing' and smiling at/with who I believe to be our Guardian Angel: my 1st son. My Granddaughter also was seen doing the same, with my 1st son - and now my mother as well - and now my kids believe without a doubt that His Angels exist, also!

    In 2011 I was, almost, medically dead. A traumatic accident and the ensuing complications from surgery caused me to 'bleed out'. I do not remember anything - approx. 6 days worth - but what my kids and Dad told me: that 2 more surgeries and 8 transfusions brough me back. What I DO remembers is feeling confident in my Doctors and Nurses and completely calm anout the future. After a year I felt the same calm when I told them to just take my leg. I bawled like a baby when I told my wound-surgeon my decision because I thought I had somehow failed him and his team regarding saving my leg. When he and his team called me their hero, I broke down. I didn't, and still don't, feel like one.

    And whenever people - friends, family, strangers - say that I'm their hero and how I'm 'one heck of a strong lady', you can ask anyone in my family and they'll confirm that I only give one answer:
    My strength came from God, my faith kept my head above water, and He is the hero, not I.

    Pope Francis' message of love, faith, unity and humanity transcends beyond anything scientific or 'proving' or earthly things. I'm still alive, I cannot explain the things which have befallen me nor the decisions I have made. But I CAN testify that while God's purpose for me being here still isn't clear, it IS clear my journey isn't complete. And no matter whether I'm Catholic or not, Pope Francis has been sent by Him to guide us ALL in faith and in love .

    Thanks for listening, and may He bless you and your richly in the New Year and beyond.

    Sincerely,
    ~~~Angel (Kristine)

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I find it inspiring that your suffering has brought you closer to God and to a deeper faith. Unlike many others, your only agenda seems to be to follow the truth no matter where it takes you. You display that beautiful childlike trust that we all need.

      And thank you for your comments about the Holy Father. Evertyhing he does and says has as its ultimate aim to lead us to Jesus Christ. I find it so tragic that many who claim to be Christians cannot see that.

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    2. Thank you so much for your kind words. :)

      I follow my heart, and my gut, in all things. Why? Because when I feel those 'pang*'s, I feel it is from God, telling me which direction to go or not to go - what to believe and see or not to believe or see.

      Each time I see or hear an article or news story featuring the Holy Father I get some serious pangs. His views, and candidness, are so refreshingly needed these days and it is MY hope that his difference from other Popes will be the open-door that so many around the world NEED - and were searching for - in order to let the Savior into their hearts and lives.

      Too many have suffered without Him. Too many are still suffering. There is too much in our world today which is negative and bad, including slanted-viewed media reports and those who live for exposing controversy etc. The fact that here in the USA we no longer recite 'One nation, UNDER GOD....' in our Pledge Of Allegiance in schools screams just how far we, as humam beings, have fallen. Too many people go to extremes regarding 'freedom of religion', as granted to us by our Constitution, and in the process we have managed to push God OUT instead of ALLOWING us the freedom to GLORIFY Him in our own ways!

      I remember reciting the Pledge every day, without fail, during my schooling all the way through high school. I remember the day our news reported certain religious groups claiming being offended because their children felt they were FORCED to recite the 'under God' passage. I remember the day it came on the news that they'd agreed with those groups and therefore removed the recitation of the Pledge from all schools. And I remember feeling physically ill about that. Why? I cannot tell you because I do not know. I just remember feeling ill and extremely, almost unbearingly, sad. And I couldnt explain that at the time, nor can I now, except to say that in my mind I felt like we were on a speeding train going downhill, FAST.

      And here comes Pope Francis. And I am not Catholic, but it was like the brightest, strongest light bulb went off in my heart and head, which I cannot explain either. EVERY WORD HE UTTERS makes SO MUCH SENSE. And they're UNDERSTANDABLE to even the most religiously-young people.

      I know it's impossible but I have the hope that one day I might meet and speak to him. And thank him. I know the odds are infinity-1 againt that ever happening. I'm just one of a billion who hope for the same. But I cannot explain it - this 'pull' in my stomach is strong. He is God's vessel, chosen BY God, and I can only pray that people listen and heed the messages and examples he sets forth.

      I fear our humanity depends on it VERY much, right now.

      So much more I can say but I dont want to hog your page, so to speak, but I adore the Holy Father and have very high hopes for religion as a whole now. And thanks be to God for bringing him to us!

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  4. TO ALL of you, I say only this:

    "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -John 3:16

    "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" - Acts 16:31

    Stop arguing semantics.
    Jesus died for us, all of us sinners.
    ALL of us.
    Believe, truly believe on Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.

    God's word does not say that a person must be Catholic, Protestant, Mennonite, Jewish, or anything else.
    ALL WE NEED TO BE, is a human being who BELIEVES.
    That's it; nothing else

    Nitpicking at this or that, or on this person or that, only furthers the Devil's work in dragging the human race that much more AND that much faster.

    Can you not see this?

    As has been since God created man, we are allowed our own opinions and have or own wills, as individuals.

    But please, please, do not use them in judgement of others for what they do or say. The only 'nitpicker', the only judge, is God, and when you do those things it only serves to increase negativity and strife, NOT bring people closer to God.

    Let others have their opinions and express their own thoughts and views, for it is only part of being human. And, therefore, you will be showing love towards your brothers/sisters in Christ.

    I'm not Catholic so I don't know the rules or guidelines under which the Cathlic Church, and its many denominations, operates. However I DO know that NO human being is perfect - Im not perfect by ANY means. And by tearing down/picking-apart things here and there regarding those chosen to be leaders of ANY religion or church only serves to cause more strife.

    I know that by living by Jesus's example we can stave off the Devil, and begin to heal the hurt and angst which is so prevalent in our world today.

    Did Jesus ever point fingers at people and scream from the rooftops (which, if He were here today, would be the news, or internet) about negative things people have done?
    Or would He have forgiven them, quietly?

    Would Jesus have condemned the ignorant people (those who don't know, understand, or care)? Or would He have spoken to them gently and patiently taught them?

    Would He be brash, crass and borderline-rude to someone whose opinion(s) clashed with His own? Or would He listen to them with patience, understanding, respect and, sometimes, empathy, then kindly, respectfully and WITHOUT challenge express His own opinion(s)?

    Remember, it's not about claiming your station within whatever religious community you are in or whatever theological/scientific community you are in.

    It is about believing The Word, believing on Jesus, listening to God's chosen (such as the Holy Father) and living by Jesus's example and God's Commandments.

    We are all sinners. I am a sinner. But we should not continue to speed up the Devils work by using our will to make choice which do so.

    By His sacrifice we are ALL saved, if we BELIEVE.
    If you believe, follow Jesus's example and alĺow for different feelings and opinions WITHOUT putting the person down or arguing.

    Sorry, C, if I offend anyone by this but I just ...it hurts me every time I see people arguing about stuff, especially when our Holy Father gives such a shining example of loving one another, no matter what.

    :D

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