Taylor Marshall interviews Bishop Athanasius Schneider

In a video on YouTube, Bishop Athanasius Schneider was interviewed by Dr. Taylor Marshall on Vatican II. These two schismatics agreed that Vatican II taught heresy, and needs to be corrected. But there are some problems with this claim. So many problems.

First, if a Pope or Bishops were to teach heresy, would they not be automatically excommunicated? There is a consensus among fathers, Saints, and Doctors of the Church that an heretical Pope ceases to be Pope. And since the Popes from Pope Saint John XXIII to Pope Francis have all supported and taught what Vatican II taught, would they not then all be heretics who have lost their authority as Pope? In fact, John Paul I and John Paul II took their respective names to show their support for Vatican II (which was initiated by Pope John and confirmed by Pope Paul) from the very beginning of their Pontificates. Does this not imply that all these Popes were heretics, who were not valid Roman Pontiffs? Or can a heretic be a valid Pope?

Second, if Vatican II taught heresy, then it would not be a valid Ecumenical Council. Similarly to the situation with a Pope who teaches heresy, we cannot simply correct that Pope’s heresies and accept the rest of what he teaches. We might as well have a Protestant as Pope, if that were the case. An heretical Pope is not a valid Pope, and so an heretical Ecumenical Council is not a valid Council. Therefore, it is not acceptable for Vatican II to merely be corrected. If the Council taught heresy, it was not a valid Council. And all the Bishops and Popes who approved of this heresy would be automatically excommunicated and not be valid Bishops or Popes.

Third, the claim made by Bp. Schneider is false that freedom of conscience in religion implies the positive will of God. Schneider said: “If you say it is a right of your nature, you are saying that it is positively willed by God”. No, not every right, in the way that it is used, is positively willed by God. The right to freedom of religion according to conscience is positively willed by God so that we might freely choose to know and love God. If we misuse that right by participation in a false religion, such a decision is not positively willed by God. Similarly, it is certainly a human right granted by God to have free will and to make decisions in conscience as to how to live. This does not imply that God positively wills any sins that the person chooses with the God-given gift of free will. So the teaching of Vatican II that people in the world have the right to freedom of religion, does not imply that God positively wills the misuse of that right.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider complains about the teachings of the Pope and the Council, but does he not believe that the Pope and the Council have the right to teach, given by God? And does he therefore draw a similar conclusion that all that is taught is positively willed by God? He does not, since he opposes some of those teachings. So the misuse of a God-given right, such as freedom of religion and of conscience, does not imply that God positively wills any use whatsoever of that gift.

Fourth, Bishop Athanasius Schneider repeats in this interview an heretical claim which he previously stated in an interview with Michael Voris, that non-Christian religions do not have supernatural faith. They have only natural faith. This implies that only Christians have the state of grace, for the state of grace includes supernatural love, supernatural faith, and supernatural hope. Schneider does not believe that Jews, Muslims, nor any other non-Christians can have that state of grace. And that means he believes only Christians can die in the state of grace, and only Christians can be saved. Here’s my previous post on the Voris Schneider interview and the state of grace in non-Christians.

What Bp. Schneider wants is for the Church to teach what he teaches, that only Christians can be saved. And this appears to be the view of both Michael Voris and Taylor Marshall, both of whom have interviewed the Bishop on this topic. They do not believe that Jews are saved without conversion to Christianity. And the same for Muslims and all other non-Christians.

This view is a mitigated form of the heresy of Feeneyism. Fr. Feeney believed that only Catholics are saved. Extending this view to only Christians does not absolve the view of its heresy. The Church has clearly taught that non-Christians can be saved if their refusal to become Christian is due to invincible ignorance, and this is not a new “post-Vatican II” teaching.

Pope John Paul II: “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.” [Redemptoris Missio 10]

Second Vatican Council: “Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity.” [Gaudium et Spes 16]

Pope Pius IX: “Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.” [Quanto Conficiamur Moerore 7]

The teaching of the Church before, during, and after Vatican II is the same: non-Christians can be saved, if their failure to accept Christ is due to invincible ignorance. All who are saved, are saved by Christ, but some who are saved do not realize that they have implicitly accepted Christ and therefore been saved by Him.

In Matthew 25, the returning King (Jesus) praises those who are saved for having helped him when he was hungry, thirsty, in prison, etc. And they reply, in effect, When did we do that? They did not realize they were loving Christ when they were loving their neighbor. And yet, they are among the sheep who are saved.

In addition, Jesus clearly teaches that the woman of Canaan and the Roman Centurion each had supernatural faith. Yet they were not Jews and not followers of Christ. So it is contrary to the teaching of Sacred Scripture and contrary to the teaching of the Church to say that only Christians can have supernatural faith and (as is implied) that only Christians can be saved.

Yet this is what Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Taylor Marshall, and Michael Voris all believe. In fact, Voris openly defended the literal Feeneyites from the Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, New Hampshire against the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on this claim that only Catholics can be saved.

And Taylor Marshall goes so far, in one of his older posts (back when he was writing articles and not just sitting in front of a camera speaking ad lib.), to say that unbaptized infants end up in the limbo of Hell. But as I explain in my book on salvation (Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone), the teaching of the Magisterium has reached a point where we can conclude that unbaptized infants certainly go to Heaven.

Finally, Taylor Marshall and Bishop Athanasius Schneider err by usurping a role above Popes and Councils to judge them and their teachings. They don’t even offer much of a theological argument. Whatever is contrary to a common conservative point of view is simply condemned for being contrary to conservatism. This is not faithful worship of Jesus Christ, but the idolatry of conservatism. So it is ironic that they complain about the supposed worship of idols when they idolize conservatism, and also idolize their own understanding. For they put their own understanding above the Church, above which is only God.

Popes and Councils cannot teach heresy, cannot teach any grave error, and any teaching of a Council approved by the Pope is entirely inerrant, as Saint Robert Bellarmine taught. So if a teaching is difficult, we must accept it in faith, and not be like the pride-filled papal critics, who use their own understanding as the measuring stick to judge the Church Herself.
{6:61} Therefore, many of his disciples, upon hearing this, said: “This saying is difficult,” and, “Who is able to listen to it?”
{6:62} But Jesus, knowing within himself that his disciples were murmuring about this, said to them: “Does this offend you?
{6:63} Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending to where he was before?
{6:64} It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh does not offer anything of benefit. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
{6:65} But there are some among you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who were unbelieving and which one would betray him.
{6:66} And so he said, “For this reason, I said to you that no one is able to come to me, unless it has been given to him by my Father.”
{6:67} After this, many of his disciples went back, and they no longer walked with him.
{6:68} Therefore, Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
{6:69} Then Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.
{6:70} And we have believed, and we recognize that you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

The teaching of Popes and Councils is the teaching of Christ. Whoever rejects that teaching, rejects Christ. Whoever judges that teaching, judges Christ. And Christ shall be their judge at the particular and general Judgments.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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