Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Bishop Athanasius Schneider

It’s many years since I watched Michael Voris’ Vortex. Tuning in this week, I was startled by the changes.

For starters, as one might expect, Voris has perfected his craft. His delivery is pleasing, and stumbles are rare. But the production value of his videos has improved too, significantly. I can only assume that his audience, and hence his funding, have exponentially increased.

I blogged about Voris several years ago, when I still followed him with qualified alacrity. Back then I could appreciate that his polemical style, which is not my cup of tea, achieved some good for some people. Since then whatever enthusiasm I could muster has cooled completely. His crime, to my mind, is intellectual inconsistency. He does not hesitate to loudly and elaborately criticise prelates like Cardinal Dolan for ambiguous statements, but when Pope Francis has made comparable statements, he stays his criticism.

“The Pope,” Voris says, “is different.” We owe him our respect and filial obedience, and it is imprudent to criticise him publicly. Indeed. But what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Having discovered the value of prudence and charity, Voris should apologise for his previous record, and accord other prelates the same courtesy. That, or he should unleash on the pope what he unleashes on others. Consistency is not just important, I think. It is critical.

Nonetheless, this week I paid the $10 monthly subscription fee to ChurchMilitant.tv to view Voris’ recent interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider. I met Bishop Schneider two weeks ago, when he addressed the ACCC conference in Hobart. He impressed me very much. Here is a man who is absolutely consistent in his ideas.

Bishop Schneider is an expert in the Church Fathers, and in many ways, he resembles one. He is a shepherd in the Church in Kazakhstan, which like the early Church is very small but deeply committed and radically counter-cultural. The population of Kazakhstan is 17 million: 70 per cent are Muslim, and less than one per cent are Catholic.

Like the Church Fathers, Bishop Schneider speaks plainly, and he is provocative. Unlike Michael Voris he is not polemical, and nor is he shrill. On the contrary, he is unfailingly serene. In Hobart Bishop Schneider struck me as a holy and prayerful man. There is a peace about him which can only be the fruit of prayer. Indeed, several times during the conference I sighted him sitting before the tabernacle, in conversation with the Lord.

Below is a recent episode of The Vortex which illustrates the contrast between Voris and Schneider. In his interview with Schneider, Voris raises the spectre of universalism, which is a devastating and prolific heresy. This is what Bishop Schneider is asked about, and this is what he comments on. But in his editorial, recorded later, Voris conflates universalism with the famous (notorious?) speculative hypothesis of Hans Urs von Balthasar, that we might hope all men are saved. That suggestion is daring (and in my view lacking), but it’s not universalism. The differences are nuanced, to be sure, but theology is nuanced. Truth is nuanced! Voris effectively implies that Schneider critiques Balthasar, when in fact he critiques something else. I don’t think this shows malice on Voris’ part, but certainly it shows sloppy thinking.

Complaints aside, this is a wonderful interview. Bishop Schneider is a man who deserves a wide hearing. His teaching is a compelling demonstration of veritas in caritate, well worth the $10 subscription fee. Let me add though: if you’re patient, you can watch it for free next month. (If I’d read the fine print earlier, I might have saved myself $10!)

  • MuMu

    Thanks very much for this, Fr John. I’m looking forward to watching it later. I find Voris way too polemical and harsh. But it’s the terrible toupee which really puts me off.

  • Cathy

    I am sorry I missed bishop Schneider when he came to Australia, I read a recent article on his thoughts about the upcoming Synod, very good read.

  • Clara

    Voris was never nuanced. In the past he accused those who take communion in the hand of Priscillianism – a 4th century gnostic heresy. While even Bishop Schneider decries the practice, those who take communion in the hand are not Priscillian heretics. I too hate the toupee!!!

  • Jake

    I went to see Michael Voris in person a few years ago. Even then, in the throes of my convert zeal, I found Voris’ extremism and uncharitableness off-putting. The constant attacks against Fr Barron and this obsession with speculating over how many peopler in Hell is bizarre.

    +Schneider seems like a reasonable man. I look forward to watching the interview next month 😉

    • Jake

      *people are in Hell.

  • I find Michael Voris comments shrill, polished and uncomfortable. I cant listen to him.

  • Tim

    I thought this typical of Voris —Here Voris deviously and deceptively contrasts Bishop Schneider with Catholics “supportive of schism”—meaning the SSPX—when,as he knows full well, Bishop Schneider himself is supportive of SSPX, sees no schism, and recommends that SSPX be regularized without further ado. Unable to enlist the Bishop in support of his “schism” charge, however, Voris tries to slip it into the Bishop’s “clarification” by means of a shifty innuendo.

    · “For SSPX supporters to portray Bishop Schneider as an unquestioning ally is something to which His Excellency objects.”

    The Bishop did not “object” to the claim that he is an “unquestioning ally” of SSPX, because no such claim is made. Voris invented the claim and the Bishop’s “objection” in order to spin the—for Voris—useless “clarification” as support for his thoroughly discredited accusation of “schism.”

    Sorry, Mr. Voris, but this is one duck that won’t lift from the lake. If there was anything left of CMTV’s credibility, it has vanished with this evidence of Voris’s determination to continue his petty vendetta against SSPX, which, as Bishop Schneider actually said, exhibits “a sound theological, spiritual and human reality” and the “sentire cum ecclesia” and that “this should suffice for a canonical recognition of the SSPX on behalf of the Holy See.”

    http://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/fetzen-fliegen/item/1931-voris-obtains-clarification-from-bishop-schneider-which-confirms-sspx-not-in-schism

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