Rorate Caeli

Christus Vincit: Bishop Schneider’s Powerful and Luminous New Book — And Its Presentation in Rome

Word is spreading quickly about Bishop Schneider’s recently released book-length interview Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age (Angelico Press).

Only professional ostriches of olympic head-burying skill can deny that the Roman Catholic Church is suffering her worst crisis since the Protestant Reformation. We can see it in the escalating conflicts between a Vatican in progressive overdrive and Catholic laity and clergy striving to remain faithful to Scripture, Tradition, and the consistent teaching of the Magisterium; oscillation between anarchy and authoritarianism in governance; multiplying accusations of heresy and schism; and worldwide exposures of clerical abuse implicating bishops all the way up to the pope. 

Of those who have dared to call the problems by their name and to seek real remedies, Bishop Schneider stands out for his forthright interventions and the clarity with which he teaches the perennial doctrine of Christ and His Church, encouraging the “little ones,” admonishing the doubtful, and rebuking the relativists, secularists, and modernists who have overrun the barque of Peter.

Christus Vincit one of the most potent books written by any bishop of the Catholic Church, not just in recent years but since the time of the Second Vatican Council. It’s like The Ratzinger Report, raised to the tenth power. No wonder the book features endorsements by an impressive lineup: Cardinal Sarah and Cardinal Burke, eminent theologian Fr. Aidan Nichols, Fr. Gerald Murray of EWTN’s “Papal Posse,” and popular author Scott Hahn.

Bishop Schneider critiques worldliness within the Church: the addiction to bureaucracy, the embarrassing quest for relevance, the craven appetite for applause, iron-fisted methods against legitimate criticism, the anthropocentric drift away from divine revelation, spirit-suffocating liturgical mediocrity and narcissism, the flight from pastoral responsibility for sound doctrine, the embrace of secular humanism, the silent apostasy from two millennia of tradition. At the same time he movingly describes the only solutions that will bring peace and strength to the Body of Christ on earth: resounding and uncompromising orthodoxy, the unchanging morality of the commandments and the beatitudes, a liturgy truly worthy of the divine mysteries it shelters, and loving adoration of the Lord, really present for us in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.

It’s also extremely interesting—a real page-turner. The early chapters talk about his life growing up in the underground Church in the Soviet Union, then in liberal Germany, afterwards in Brazil, and finally in Kazakhstan. This back story is key to understanding his exceptional courage and clarity. Later chapters delve into such controversial topics as the Vatican-promoted Islamization and dechristianization of Europe, the erroneous assertions found in Vatican II documents, the purpose and limits of papal power, the sell-out of Chinese Catholics, the Amazon Synod, the SSPX, the third secret of Fatima, the return of the Tridentine Mass, and the reform of the clergy.

In spite of a few areas of disagreement I have with the good bishop, I would not hesitate to give or recommend this book to any Catholic—whether conservative, traditional, bewildered and confused, straying Eastwards, straying leftwards—because, on the whole, it’s such a breath of fresh air, of resounding truth and charity—a breath of the Holy Spirit for our times. My copy is dog-eared on practically every other page, and I predict yours will be as well.

Below I will share some favorite passages to give readers a sense of the silver and gold they can expect to find in these pages.

“When we settled in Germany, I was twelve and a half years old [i.e., 1973]. As we left for Germany, Fr. Pavlovskis blessed us and then he said to us these words, which I will never forget: ‘When you go to Germany, be careful. There are some churches where Communion is given in the hand.’ When
we heard this, we looked at one another, and my mother and father said spontaneously, ‘Horrible!’ Really, we could not imagine how the Holy of Holies, the Living God, could be taken in the hand. That was for me inconceivable, really. He said to us, ‘Please, don’t go to these churches.’ And we promised to do as he instructed. ...
           “When we arrived home after Mass, I told my mother ‘Oh, Mamma, today Mass was like getting candies in school.’ Because I remembered once in school when we received candies: we had to stand in a line and they gave us candies in the hand. And so that was the parallel I made. My mother said, ‘We will never go to this church again.’ The next Sunday, at the next church, it was the same as at the first church. And at the third church, it was the same situation. When we came home, my mother was so sad. She looked at us, and was crying, and said, ‘Oh my children, I don’t understand, I cannot understand! How can people treat Our Lord in this way? How are people able to treat Our Lord in this way...’” (pp. 21-22)

“After my episcopal nomination, a priest who was a family friend came to my mother and congratulated her on the episcopal appointment of her son. To which she replied, ‘This does not mean very much for me. What is important is that my son remains faithful to Jesus.’ Each time I phoned my mother, even after I became a bishop, her last words to me were these: ‘You remain faithful to Jesus. Everything else is unimportant!’ This simple wisdom of a Catholic mother far surpasses the sterile intellectualism of the new Pharisees and scribes, who are represented by the liberal and neo-Modernist clerical clan in the life and the structures of the Church in our days.” (p. 39)

“Now we have reached a peak of secularism, of this complete independence of man, of this enormous anthropocentrism where everyone decides for himself what is true and what is good or evil. Such secularism brings us a horrible and cruel society. We are witnessing this—it is cruel. And what is the result? Egoism. Secularism leads to egoism. We have now reached a peak of egoism—and egoism is cruel: only I and no one else. … It is Hell. ‘Only I.’ Ultimately this means, ‘When someone else is impeding or hindering what I want to do, I will kill him, I will destroy him.’ And so, they began to kill the innocents in their mother’s womb because these babies are hindering them from achieving what they believe is their self-realization through pleasures, a false freedom, and worldly success. Then they eliminate sick people; then the handicapped, for instance those with Down syndrome, and so on. This is the path of the new dictatorship, patterned after the Nazi dictatorship in Germany and the Communist dictatorship in the Soviet Union. This is a process which leads ultimately to an exasperated egoism, to a cruel and inhuman society. (p. 51)

“Society has arrived at a mad, insane way of thinking that is tainted with blasphemy, because gender ideology and homosexuality are an enormous blasphemy and a rebellion against the wisdom and majesty of God the Creator. . . . a detachment from reality because they say that we decide what reality is, what creation is, what man is, and so on. They seize on what is in some way the most mysterious part of creation, human sexuality. It is a very mysterious and holy area, given by God for participating in the transmission of new life, and life is a mystery. This is the means to continue mankind, to transmit life—God gives life, but the parents transmit life as co-participants. Secularists want to appropriate this domain to themselves. They say, ‘We, and no longer God, say who is male and who is female.’ This is blasphemy, rebellion, and insanity at the same time.…
           “In so many nations, by law there can now be a valid and legal marriage between persons of the same sex, which is clearly madness and contradicts all reality, all evidence. We have arrived at this point, and it is all a movement which grew out of anthropocentrism and the elimination of God from society. Therefore, we have arrived at a new pagan society, in some ways worse than pagan societies of the past. At least pagans in Roman and Greek society still accepted reality.” (p. 52)

“Since the Council, one of the greatest dangers inside the Church has arisen out of interreligious dialogue. The way such dialogue was conducted, especially in the Assisi meetings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI—seen in their results—were expressions of a relativizing of the uniqueness of Christ and His Church for the eternal salvation of souls. It is a relativizing of the biblical truth that Christ is the unique Savior and that all who are not Christians have to accept Christ as their God and Savior and adore Him in order to be saved. It is a relativizing of the obligation and indispensable mission of the Church to proclaim this truth clearly to all non-Christians. In this way, clerics in the Church in our days are committing, in my opinion, a great sin of omission in neglecting to proclaim Christ to all non-Christians, as the Apostles did. Interreligious meetings like those held in Assisi convey to the entire world the message that the Catholic religion stands on the same level with other religions, as a member of a kind of ‘Parliament of the World’s Religions.’ … the impression that we are all travelling on parallel tracks to the same God and will all reach the same end, and that we don’t have to be bothered if there are still people of other religions who do not know or do not accept Christ. We have only to be nice and tolerant with one another, promoting goals such as ‘Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.’
          “However, such a reductive attitude is a betrayal of the Gospel. We have to change the method of interreligious dialogue. If the Apostles used this method, they would not have converted so many people to Christ. They would not have died as martyrs but in their beds.” (pp. 97-98)

“The whole crisis in the Church, as seen after the Council, was manifest in an incredible inflation of frenetic human activity to fill the void or the vacuum of prayer and adoration, to fill the void created through the abandonment of the supernatural. …
           “Efforts to fill this void have been tried, for example, in continual Church meetings and gatherings at different levels and in different forms—continuous synods. This is oftentimes busy work with a very pious mask. It is a waste of money; it is a waste of time that could be used for prayer and for direct evangelization. The phenomenon of permanent meetings, assemblies and synods on various levels is a kind of parliamentarization of Church life and is therefore worldly, although masked with the impressive word ‘synodality.’ There are episcopal meetings on the continental, regional, and national level, on the subnational level, on the diocesan level, and so on. We are suffocated with continuous meetings and every meeting has to produce papers. So, we are really submerged by the weight of papers and papers and papers. This is pure, frenetic Pelagianism. Not only is this taking money and time away from evangelization and prayer; it is also an extremely cunning method of Satan to take away the successors of the Apostles and priests from prayer and evangelization—under the pretext of a so-called ‘synodality.’
“There is only one parallel in the history of the Church to such excessive episcopal meetings, and that is the fourth century, precisely when the Arian heresy was dominant and reigning. They would gather together and hold meetings, and in those times St. Gregory of Nazianzus said: ‘I am resolved to avoid every meeting of bishops, for I have never seen any synod end well, nor assuage rather than aggravate disorders’ (Ep. 130 ad Procopium).
           “To be honest, I am bored with episcopal meetings and synods. As much as I love my brother bishops and love to meet them, this method of continual synods and assemblies, which are often dominated by frenetic activity, are influenced by the spirit of Pelagianism and Modernism. They are often sterile and give the impression of an enormous show of clerical vanity.” (pp. 112–13)

“I continued to believe [as a young man] that there was no substantial problem with the Council texts. On one side, I observed the Council texts being abused by the liberals, and on the other side, it seemed to me, in those years, that the criticisms of Archbishop Lefebvre were exaggerated. It was for me impossible to think that a Council or a pope could make any mistake. Implicitly I considered every word of the Council and the pope as infallible, or at least without error. …
           “It was for me a kind of unconscious and total ‘infallibilization’ of the Council—unconsciously, not on the theoretical level—and of all pronouncements of the popes. I was uncomfortable when there were critics, and I did not like to follow or study the critics because I was afraid of going in a direction that would be unfaithful to the Church and to my devotion to the pope. Instinctively, I repressed every reasonable argument which could, even in the slightest, be a critique of the Council texts.
           “Nowadays, I realize that I ‘turned off’ my reason. However, such an attitude is not healthy and contradicts the tradition of the Church, as we observe in the Fathers, the Doctors, and the great theologians of the Church over the course of two thousand years.” (116–17)
          “An honest examination shows that in some expressions of the Council texts there is a rupture with the previous constant tradition of the Magisterium. We have to always bear in mind the fact that the chief end of the Council was pastoral in character, and that the Council did not intend to propose its own definitive teachings.” (119)

“At that time, there emerged a movement of laity who said: ‘We protest the dilution of the faith and the trivialization of the Holy Mass. What we observe is not the faith that was always and everywhere transmitted to our forefathers.’ This lay movement inside the Church was growing [also] independently of Archbishop Lefebvre’s work, and today it is continuing to grow in strength and numbers in response to the pontificate of Pope Francis. I think that with the tremendous and almost unprecedented interior crisis in the Church we are witnessing today, the hour of the laity has arrived. They also feel responsible for the conservation and defense of the faith. The true intention and teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the laity is being realized now in our days ever more clearly, in many meritorious and courageous lay initiatives for the defense of the Catholic faith. We have arrived at a grotesque situation, in which the sheep are beginning to unmask the infiltrating wolves in sheep’s clothing, i.e., the unbelieving, apostate, and debauched cardinals, bishops, and priests.” (125-26)

“Secularism is very strong, because Pope Francis is mostly addressing—and, in my opinion, in an exaggerated manner—issues which do not of themselves belong to the task of the Apostles, of the Successors of the Apostles, since he mainly promotes purely worldly realities . . . [e.g.] climate change, the environment, the care of plastic waste disposal, immigration. These are not the proper competencies of the Church; they belong to the government. Oftentimes, before the Council, the liberals or the world would accuse the Church of interfering unduly in affairs that properly pertain to secular powers. Today this is really taking place through the pope’s excessive concern for secular and temporal affairs. The pope is interfering and occupying himself with duties that belong to secular powers.
           “Looking at history, we had examples of popes who occupied themselves mainly with secular issues. I think of Pope Julius II, who spent a great deal of his time in warfare, leading on horseback and dressed as an army commander; or Leo X, who spent his time dealing mostly with arts and amusements, unconcerned about the dangerous increasing conflagration of the Lutheran heresy in the Holy Roman Empire, especially in Germany and in northern Europe. …
           “When the bishops and the pope neglect supernatural realities and the primary care of souls, they sometimes turn to caring for the body. The Apostles refused to do this, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter six. St. Peter, the first pope, said it is not right for them to ‘serve tables,’ i.e., to focus on the bodily and temporal needs of people, while neglecting prayer and the ministry of the Word, and the proclamation of revealed truths.” (p. 142)

“Doctrine is the truth and is the foundation for the entire life of the Church and Christians. Therefore, Our Lord Jesus Christ is called in the Gospel ‘Master,’ that is, ‘Teacher’ (magister; didaskalos). Teacher means to give a teaching, a doctrine. Our Lord said: ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent Me’ (Jn 7:16). And of the Holy Spirit He says: ‘He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you’ (Jn 14:26). ‘He will not speak on his own authority’ (Jn 16:13). The entire basis of our life is the truth, the Logos, the Word who became flesh. The Word (Logos) is the other name of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity is called properly ‘Son,’ Son of the Father, the Son of the Living God. The Holy Scripture did not say, for instance, that the ‘act,’ the ‘action’ became flesh, but that the ‘WORD’—the truth—became flesh. The famous German poet Goethe, who was a known Freemason, was not fond of the expression ‘In the beginning was the WORD’ (Prologue of John’s Gospel), but instead preferred to say, ‘In the beginning was the action.’ We might also ask: Why does Holy Scripture not say: ‘Love became flesh,’ but rather, ‘The Word became flesh’? Why does it not say, ‘Feeling or sentiment became flesh?’ or ‘Mercy became flesh,’ but ‘The Word, the Logos, became flesh’? Indeed, the Truth became flesh. And so, the truth, and with it the faith, is the foundation, the rock of the whole edifice of Christian life. God based His work of saving mankind on truth. We must not separate truth from love. However, truth serves as the basis for love, like a rock, and protects love.” (165–66)

There is so much more like this…

I’ll stop here and leave the rest for you to discover and rejoice in. The Lord is our strength and our shield, and He always raises up prophetic voices to speak His truth without political correctness, without watering down, without dissembling guile, without craven fear. Thank God for Bishop Schneider and for this incredible book.

LifeSite prepared a short video about the presentation of the book in Rome this past Monday, October 14:

The Remant has a longer video about the same event, which already has nearly 50,000 views: