In a letter addressed to the Joseph Strickland, Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Astana, Kazakhstan, encourages the courageous American bishop in his confession of the Catholic faith and in the preservation of the flock entrusted to him.
In this letter, dated August 2, 2023, the auxiliary bishop expresses his gratitude to the Bishop of Tyler for his “intrepid dedication to uncompromisingly keep, transmit, and defend the Catholic faith.” He applies to him the words of St. Basil: “The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers” (Epistle 243).
Quoting the same saint again, he applies his words to the current situation: “The doctrines of true religion are overthrown. The laws of the Church are in confusion. The ambition of men, who have no fear of God, rushes into high posts in the Church, and the exalted office is now publicly known as the prize of impiety.”
“The result is that the worse a man blasphemes, the fitter people think him to be a bishop. Clerical dignity is a thing of the past. There is a complete lack of men shepherding the Lord's flock with knowledge.… Faith is uncertain. . . . The mouths of true believers are dumb, while every blasphemous tongue wags free; holy things are trodden under foot” (Epistle 92).
He adds that the words of St. Basil in his letter to Pope Damasus, in which he asks for the help and effective intervention of the Pope, are entirely applicable to our current situation: “The wisdom of this world wins the highest prizes in the Church and has rejected the glory of the cross. Shepherds are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ” (Epistle 90).
But, continues Bishop Schneider, “unlike St. Basil, who addressed Pope Damasus, you don’t have, unfortunately, the real chance to address Pope Francis in order that he may help you to keep zealously the holy traditions of the past. On the contrary, the Holy See put you now under scrutiny and threatens you with intimidations and deprivation of the episcopal care of your flock in Tyler.”
And this, for one reason only: “Like St. Basil, St. Athanasius, and many other confessor-bishops in history, are keeping the traditions of the Fathers; only because you are not silencing the truth, only because you are not behaving like now a few bishops of our day, who—using the words of St. Gregory Nazianzus—'are serving the times and the demands of the masses, leaving their boat to the wind which happens to blow at the moment . . ..”
And to encourage his correspondent, the bishop continues: “However, dear Bishop Strickland, you have the happiness, that all the popes of the past, all the courageous confessor-bishops of the past, all the Catholic martyrs, who, in the words of St. Teresa of Avila, were ‘resolved to undergo a thousand deaths for any one article of the creed,’ to support and encourage you.”
“Furthermore, the little ones in the Church pray for you and support you; they are an ever growing, yet small, army of lay faithful—in the United States as well as all over the world—who were put on the periphery by high ranking churchmen, even in the Vatican, whose main concerns seems to be pleasing the world and promoting their naturalistic agenda and the approval of the sin of homosexual activity under the guise of welcoming and inclusion.”
Bishop Schneider finally states, “I pray that more bishops in our day may, like you, raise their voice in defense of the Catholic Faith, providing thereby the spiritual nourishment and consolation for many Catholics, who feel themselves abandoned like orphans. For sure, future popes will thank you for your intrepid fidelity to the Catholic Faith and to its holy traditions, by which you have contributed to the honor of the Apostolic See, which was partly darkened and stained by our unfavorable time.”
It is interesting to note that, as the crisis continues to grow, those who keep the Faith, even if they have yet to perceive the depth of the crisis and its origins in the Second Vatican Council, are finding the paths traced by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre over 50 years ago.