A Milestone for Future Magisterial Rectifications

Par Rédacteur


We reproduce here, with the kind permission of Paix liturgique, an article published on 28 April entitled: ‘A Catechism for the Catholic Church. Bishop  Schneider’s Compendium of the Catholic Faith.’ (Paix Liturgique France)

A little more than thirty years after the Catechism of the Catholic Church of 1992, a work, which could be described as the Catechism for the Catholic Church, has seen the day. Éditions Contretemps, part of Renaissance Catholique, has just published Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book, Credo, Compendium of the Catholic Faith, the first edition of which was published in the United States (Sophia Institute Press, 2023). We publish below the particularly relevant presentation written by Karen Darantière, the translator of the book.

At the front of the book are the warm approvals of Cardinal Sarah, Bishop Strickland, etc. They praise the classical, question-and-answer form, its clear and direct prose, understandable by all. “The special value of this Compendium consists above all in the fact that numerous current questions and problems (such as: transhumanism, Pentecostalism, prohibition of traditional Catholic rites, Mother Earth worship, Asian methods of meditation, female priesthood or diaconate) are clarified in the light of the traditional teaching of the Church,  offering the faithful helpful orientation in times of confusion.” (Fr. Michael Fiedowicz, Faculty of Theology, Trier).

In his interview with Jean-Pierre Maugendre (Mgr Schneider répond aux questions de Jean-Pierre Maugendre à propos de son livre Credo, compendium de la foi catholique – Renaissance Catholique), Bishop Schneider says of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by John Paul II: “The new Catechism of the Catholic Church contains certain ambiguous doctrinal formulations that should be clarified in the light of the perennial Tradition of the Church.”

The same aim is expressed in the passage from the Compendium concerning the unity of the Church and ecumenism: “[true ecumenism must lead to] the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it” (this is a quotation from Pius XI’s Mortalium animos); no, it is not right to say that “the Spirit of Christ uses the separated Christian communities as ‘means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth that has been entrusted to the Church.’” This proposal, which Bishop Schneider firmly rejects because it “insinuates a quasi-legitimacy for separated Christian communities, undermining the unicity of the Catholic Church and promoting doctrinal relativism,” is, as he says in a footnote, a quotation from Vatican II’s Unitatis Redintegratio, n° 3.

In short, this Compendium is intended as, and is, a milestone for necessary future corrections.

Credo by Bishop Athanasius Schneider[1]: Manna from Heaven for our Time

A response to an urgent need

Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s “Credo: Compendium of the Catholic Faith” responds to an urgent need for clarity in the transmission of the Catholic faith.  Cardinal Sarah declared this forcefully at the launching of this book in Rome last October:

“In this time of serious crisis in the Church, … too often we hear so many discordant opinions coming from the mouths of so many high-ranking prelates on doctrinal and moral issues; … a true cacophony reigns today in the teachings of pastors: bishops and priests; … the result is confusion, ambiguity, and apostasy; … deep bewilderment and devastating uncertainties have been inoculated in the souls of many Christian believers.”

Such is the problem to which Bishop Schneider’s catechism provides the solution.  Where there is confusion, his catechism brings clarity.  Instead of cacophony, harmony is heard. In it we find the purity of the faith, free from blemish, and the unity of the faith, in its simplicity, the only guarantor of the unity of the Church in God.

A clarity that dispels the current darkness

This remarkable work conveys traditional Catholic teaching while at the same time clearly responding to the errors of our time, thus dispelling the darkness of recent decades.  Here are some examples of this beautiful clarity:

  • on the traditional Mass: to the question: “Why is this link with antiquity so essential for the sanctity of right worship?” he answers, “God has revealed how He desires to be worshipped: therefore, this sanctity cannot be fabricated or decreed; it can only be humbly received, diligently protected, and reverently handed on.”
  • on the authentic renewal of the Church: to the question: “What have the popes prescribed for authentic renewal of the Church?” he responds by quoting St. Pius X: “‘The true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists.’”  
  • On communion on one’s knees and on the tongue (a subject dear to his heart), he writes: “… we believe, adore and submit to the ineffable divine Majesty hidden in the little host, allowing ourselves to be fed by God like little children, since this supernatural food is His alone to give, and we cannot earn it or be ‘equal’ to it.”

The perennial doctrine and morals of the Church, immutable in all times and places, are thus accompanied by responses to our current woes, the complete enumeration of which would be very long, but among others, we can mention: the female diaconate or priesthood, ecumenism, the death penalty, gender ideology, the diversity of religions, religious freedom, human dignity,  papal infallibility, the charismatic movement, Freemasonry, pornography, and sex education.  This book has the great merit of clarifying the ambiguous statements of the conciliar documents, as well as those of the Catechism of John Paul II.  For example, to the question, “Does the Holy Spirit use false religions to impart grace and salvation to man?” he replies:

“No. Although God is able to give graces to a man who practices a false religion in view of his innocent ignorance and sincere good will, such graces would in nowise be mediated by or owing to the false religion itself.  Rather, grace may be given despite this man’s error, and in order to lead him out of that error into the truth of right faith.”  (This clarifies Unitatis Redintegratio, 3 and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 819.)

What one finds in this catechism is doctrinal purity, without compromise with the spirit of the world.  We are all suffering so much from the reigning ambiguity, this diabolical instrument wielded to subvert the Church! The clarity we find in Credo is therefore a priceless gift to our Holy Mother Church. 

Like a splendid cathedral

This compendium contains a clear, complete, and concise exposition of each article of Catholic faith, morals, and worship, in the traditional form of questions and answers, and includes more than 600 quotations from the Magisterium, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church.  It follows a classical plan in three parts: the first sets forth what we believe, following the Apostles’ Creed (lex credendi); the second explains the principles of moral action, following the order of God’s commandments (lex vivendi); the third deals with grace and the means of sanctification, especially prayer and the sacraments (lex orandi). 

The order and harmony of the structure are reminiscent of a splendid cathedral, supported by the pillars of faith, morals, prayer and the sacraments, and illuminated by divine truth which, thanks to the limpid questions and answers, like the light passing through the rose windows, shines in all its beauty.

A catechism for all Catholics

Credo is adapted to all Catholics universally: to young people who thirst for the truth, to parents and grandparents who want to transmit the faith to their children and grandchildren, to catechists who are preparing catechumens to receive the sacraments, to parish priests who want to recommend a solid catechism to their flock.  This book is written in a language which is understandable to those who are not versed in theological matters, yet precise and accurate.   In fact, Bishop Schneider gives voice to the Councils, the Fathers, the Doctors, including many quotations from the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, in a way that allows all the faithful to easily understand.  The only prerequisites are the love of sound doctrine, the will to know it better in order to love it better, and the desire to find a safe haven from the deluge of errors of our time thanks to clear and concise teaching. 

With the heart of a shepherd who loves his sheep, Bishop Schneider transmits the truths of our holy faith in a simple and profound way. He himself, in his preface, says for whom he has composed this work:

« I am compelled to respond to the requests of many sons and daughters of the Church who are perplexed by the widespread doctrinal confusion in the Church of our day. I offer this work, ‘Credo: Compendium of the Catholic Faith’, to strengthen them in their faith and serve as a guide to the changeless teaching of the Church. Mindful of the episcopal duty to be a ‘nurturer of the Catholic and apostolic Faith’ … my intended audience has been chiefly God’s ‘little ones’ … who are hungry for the bread of right doctrine.”

The mark of maternal solicitude

What touches me personally about Bishop Schneider’s book is that it is “dedicated to the mothers of all times, and especially of our day, who even among persecutions transmitted to their children the pure and changeless Catholic Faith with mother’s milk and love.” I think that these words also apply to him, as bishop, since he transmits the truth to us with paternal love.

Touching also is his devotion to Our Lady, whom Bishop Schneider invokes in his preface:  “May the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our tender Mother, worthily invoked in the Church as Destroyer of all heresies and Seat of Wisdom, protect us with her maternal mantle.” He also honors her with traditional titles that express her maternal care for us:

“Mary is at once our Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate and Mother, … because she cooperated in our salvation by agreeing to be Mother of the Redeemer, consenting to all His redeeming acts, and jointly offering His life to God on the Cross, … [and] because God, in giving us Jesus through her, has given us all graces through her.” 

Clearly, the Full of Grace answered his prayer in the accomplishment of this much-needed work.  

The gratitude of men of the Church and of the faithful

This work, carried out for the good of the Church, has the major support of Cardinal Sarah, who declares, “the publication of the book “Credo: Compendium of the Catholic Faith” is an initiative of great importance, and it has come at the right time”; and of Bishop Strickland, valiant Bishop of Texas, who affirms: “I am honored to join the faithful sons and daughters of the Church who have already expressed their appreciation for Bishop Schneider’s ‘Compendium’.”  It is to be hoped that other eminent prelates will also express their gratitude for this work.

The deepest gratitude, however, comes from countless faithful throughout the world who, like bleating sheep, have touched the heart of this good shepherd who with this work responds to their call, leading them to the heavenly pastures.  This gratitude is well expressed by Dr. Caterina Lorenzo-Molo, wife and mother, who says:

« I gave my children milk and love, but I did not always transmit all that a Catholic mother should. I now have a better chance for my youngest, having discovered Tradition and now having this ‘Compendium’. The way the book is organized (believing, living, and praying) is a service to us, the ‘little ones,’ whom the author declares to be his primary audience. One is left with a sense of calm (despite the current crisis), and a great desire to be better.”

In short, Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s Credo is truly manna from heaven for our time.

Karen Darantière (translator of the French edition of Credo)

[1] Credo: Compendium of the Catholic Faith, by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Sophia Institute Press, Manchester New Hampshire, 2023.