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What Is A True Scandal? . . . No One Has A Right To The Holy Eucharist

July 31, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By BISHOP ATHANASIUS SCHNEIDER

Part 1

(Editor’s Note: As stated with the page one article by Maike Hickson, here is the first half of Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s commentary on the working document of the Amazon Synod. That synod is set to take place in Rome from October 6-27, with most of the synod fathers stemming from the Amazon region. Bishop Schneider is the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan.
(The second half of the Schneider commentary will appear in next week’s issue.
(Bishop Schneider joins a growing list of episcopal critics of the working document, or Instrumentum Laboris, of the October synod.)

+ + +

(LifeSiteNews) — In his July 14 interview with ORF [an Austrian national public service broadcaster], Bishop Krautler said that it is “nearly a scandal” that, in many parishes in the Amazon, the Holy Eucharist is barely being celebrated. This way of speaking in itself is already unclear and definitely tendentious. No one has a right to the Holy Eucharist. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is the ultimate gift of God.
One can speak of a scandal in Catholic parishes when the Faith is there being denied and not practiced, when God is insulted by the scorning of His Commandments, by grave sins against charity, by idolatry, shamanism, and so on. One could speak of a scandal in a Catholic parish when people there do not pray enough. That would be a true scandal.
One should rather speak of a scandal when one considers the fact that, during the last decades in the Amazon, intensive pastoral initiatives to foster vocations were not launched, initiatives in accordance with the 2,000-year-old experience of the Church. That is to say, by way of constant prayers, spiritual sacrifices, and an exemplary and holy way of life on the part of the missionaries themselves.
One of the most effective means in order to foster solid priestly vocations, also in the Amazon, are missionaries who lead a life as true men of prayer, as true apostles, that is to say with the help of a loving and sacrificial life totally dedicated to Christ and to the salvation of immortal souls.
Those that Bishop Krautler and many of his clerical fellow travelers now demand are, rather, caricature-priests in the form of aid workers, NGO employees, socialist syndicalists, and eco-specialists. But this is not the mission of Jesus Christ, of the Incarnate God Who came to give His Life at the Cross in order to redeem mankind of the greatest evil. That is to say, redemption from sin, in order that all men may have the divine and supernatural life, and that they also have it abundantly (see John 10:10).
It does not hold to employ the trick of dramatizing the “Eucharistic hunger” or the lack of Eucharistic celebrations, because it is not the reception of the Holy Eucharist that is necessary for salvation, but the Faith, the prayer, and a life according to God’s Commandments.
If, over a long period of time and due to the lack of priests, Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion, then one should instruct them to practice spiritual Communion which has a great spiritual strength and effect. The Desert Fathers, for example, have lived for years without the Eucharist and have reached a great union with Christ.
My parents and I myself for years were unable to receive Holy Communion in the Soviet Union. But we always practiced spiritual Communion, which gave us much spiritual strength and consolation. When then a priest would come, and we were able to confess ourselves, to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive Holy Communion sacramentally, then it was a true feast for us and we experienced in a very deep and joyful manner how precious the gift of the priesthood and the gift of the Eucharist are.
One should build up in the Amazon a well-organized system with wandering missionary priests who should go to the individual places — even if only a few times a year — in order to hold a truly spiritual feast with good confessions and with Holy Masses which are celebrated in a dignified manner. They then could also leave Jesus in the tabernacle so that Catholics could adore Him, and one could instruct them how to hold Eucharistic Adoration and how to pray the Rosary with the prayer intention for good indigenous unmarried priests and good Christian families. Then God would give them, without doubt, this grace.
One should also make a worldwide request to invite priests to come to the Amazon in order pastorally to assist the people there. One can also ordain married deacons or, in exceptional cases, give tasks to acolytes or to faithful Catholic women who expose the Most Blessed Sacrament and lead the prayers.
There is one single example in the Church’s history when the Japanese Catholics, without priests, maintained the Catholic Faith over the course of more than two hundred years. Today, Japan has a sufficient amount of indigenous priests, who are of course celibate. Even though, at the time, the pagan culture of Japan rejected a celibate priesthood, the Japanese Catholics held in such high esteem the celibate priesthood that it became a sign of identification for Catholics.
That is to say, when in the nineteenth century Christian missionaries again came to them — among them married Protestant preachers — they rejected them for this very reason. But when then Catholic priests came, and when the Japanese Catholics asked them whether they were married and they responded in the negative, they were then welcomed by these faithful as priests of the true Church of Jesus Christ. The Church thus could have brought up in the nineteenth century the same arguments as today the Amazon Synod will do, in order to ordain indigenous married priests, because at that time, many parishes in some missionary regions also could only have the visit of a priest a few times in the year.
Priestly marriage was legalized in the Eastern Church in the seventh century, but not because of the lack of priests at the time, there was an overabundance of priests especially in Constantinople. It was rather done out of leniency toward human weakness, because those who in the episcopal and priestly office imitated Jesus Christ — the Eternal High Priest of the New Covenant — and who act in the ordained office in the person of Christ the Head had deviated and departed from the Apostolic rule of a celibate life.
At the time, in the Greek Church, it was a regional solution of a local church, but which the Roman Pontiffs however did not recognize nor accept. It was at the time a deviancy and a disloyalty toward the demanding imitation of Christ, which the Apostles lived out in their complete sexual continence, from the moment of their being called and unto death. Because the Apostle Peter clearly bore witness to this way of life and he also confirmed it: “We have left everything: also wife and children” (Matt. 19:27).
All the Church Fathers in the episcopal and priestly office have lived the priesthood in sexual continence. Even if some of them had been married (e.g., St. Hilarius), it has been proved that they have themselves started to live in sexual continence and did not father any more children as soon as they received the episcopal or the priestly ordination, because they knew and respected the Apostolic rule of priestly and episcopal sexual continence.
The Roman Church has faithfully passed on this Apostolic norm and has always defended it up to today, with one exception which she granted in the case of the Eastern Churches, in negotiations for union with the Apostolic See since the Reunion Councils of Lyon and Florence. Here, she allowed a married priesthood for the sake of unity.

A Gospel Of Earthly Life

The introduction of a married priesthood in the Amazon would not bring forth true apostles, but, rather, a new category of priests within a sort of dynasty. At the same time, one has to keep in mind that the indigenous culture of the Amazonian peoples has not yet reached a reliable and proven maturity of whole Christian generations which are thoroughly permeated by the spirit of the Gospel.
For example, the Germanic tribes still needed — after the initial systematic evangelization by St. Boniface — some more centuries before being able to bring forth numerous and proven celibate indigenous clergymen.
Without doubt, in the Amazon in the nineteenth and twentieth century, there were heroic and holy missionaries: bishops, priests, religious sisters.
In the last decades, however, some missionaries in the Amazon have turned away from the true spirit of Jesus Christ, of the Apostles, and of the holy missionaries; they, instead, have turned to the spirit of this world. They do not preach anymore, with full conviction, the unique Redeemer Jesus Christ and they do not make sufficient efforts to transmit His Supernatural Life of Grace to the people in the Amazon in order thereby to lead them to eternal life, to Heaven, and thus even unto the sacrifice of one’s own life. Often, the opposite happened.
By abusing the name of Jesus and of the holy episcopal and priestly office, missionaries and even bishops have preached in the Amazon mostly a gospel of earthly life, a gospel of the stomach, as it were, and not a Gospel of the Cross; a gospel of the adoration of nature, of the forest, of the water, of the sun, a gospel of the adoration of this so brief earthly material life.
And this they did, even though the people in this region, are also in truth themselves thirsting for the sources of divine, eternal life. Such a way of missionizing the Amazon is a betrayal of the true Gospel and this betrayal has been perpetrated during the last decades throughout vast parts of this region. And now, some wish to legitimize — with the help of a synod of bishops on the international level — this same betrayal of the true supernatural evangelization in the spirit of Jesus and of the Apostles.
The Amazon urgently needs true and holy missionaries according to the spirit and the example of the lives of the great missionaries in the Church’s history, such as St. Boniface, the great Latin-American missionary saints, such as St. Turibio de Mogrovejo and St. José Anchieta, and many more.

Not A Solid Criterion

In his interview, Bishop Krautler uses as a justification for the priestly ordination of women for the celebration of the Eucharist a reference to their female “empathy.” Here, it is obviously about another understanding of Church and Eucharist, another understanding of priesthood and diaconate.
“Empathy” is not a solid theological criterion, but the will of God is such. God’s Church is not a corporation, not a party, not a club, nor a human institution where human efficiency and empathy come first, although admittedly such qualities certainly are useful.
The criteria for the office of the Apostles and their successors in the episcopal office — and below in the priestly office, and then also in the diaconal office — have to be the same ones which Christ gave to us and which the Church has always preserved: first of all, they are men, and then they have to be suitable in their morality and character.
They have to be men of Faith, filled with the Holy Spirit, prepared to live in celibacy; men who put in the first place prayer and the proclamation of Christ’s teaching; men who are willing to be true shepherds and to give their lives for the salvation of immortal souls, for those people who have been entrusted to them; men who are the true fathers of all the faithful and not merely of a limited personal family dynasty; men who are true bridegrooms of the Bride of Christ, the Church, and who are thus, as such, unmarried fathers and bridegrooms.

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