I was recently privileged to meet Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan and hear him talk on “The original Divine meaning of Marriage”. Bishop Schneider is a strong defender of the faith like the great Saint Athanasius whose name he shares.
In his talk, Bishop Schneider explained that “because of the hardheartedness of Fallen Man, divorce had been allowed by Moses”, but that this was “contrary to the absolute indissolubility God had planned for marriage.” Although they knew “the divine truths about the beginning of marriage”, it was the Pharisees and the Scribes who were, “the first liars about the possibility of a contrast between doctrine and pastoral practice.” When “they asked Jesus about the basic legitimacy of divorce” He “proclaimed to them through His Gospel, Jesus still proclaims to the man of all times, the unchangeable divine truths about marriage.” “From the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication*, and shall marry another, commiteth adultery.” [Matt 19; 8-9] “Jesus restored the serious and divine truths about marriage and human sexuality. He “does not permit any exceptions in relation to alleged pastoral practices.”
“In His teaching Jesus is going so far as to proclaim”, that “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”[Matt 5: 28] “This commandment of Christ is universally valid and means any lustful sexual desire for a person who is not the…legitimate spouse is in the intention, in the eyes of God, already sinning against the Sixth Commandment.”
“During the past 2000 years there have been, in the life of the Church, again and again attempts to reinterpret the crystal clear and uncompromising teaching of Christ on the indissolubility of marriage and on the inequity of any sexual acts outside marriage, such acts [being] against the will of God.”
Bishop Schneider went on to say that “a radical contradiction to the doctrine of Christ and to the teaching of the Apostles on marriage was established by Martin Luther”, who called “marriage a merely worldly thing,” and thus “in theory, and in practice”,opened “the door to divorce.”
His Lordship then went through several examples throughout history of Catholic bishops and cardinals giving in to fear and pressure from authorities to “admit” invalid second marriages. Yet there were also those who remained courageous though many gave in. One “example, particularly blunt in its manner, almost the entire episcopate of England, in the time of king Henry VIII, consented to the divorce of the king. The entire episcopate, the Catholic episcopate, with the one exception, St. John Fisher.” There was also “a part of the college of cardinals in the case of the invalid second marriage of the Emperor Napoleon.” When “some courageous cardinals protested against this invalid marriage” they were forbidden to wear their scarlet cassocks. The “politically correct cardinal” were allowed to wear them”but the courageous cardinals” had to wear black cassocks, and as such they were known as the “black cardinals”. “I think in our time,” Bishop Schneider said, “we have the need of more ‘black cardinals’ and ‘black bishops’.”
In regard to the proposal to admit the divorced and re-married to Holy Communion, Bishop Schneider said that “it is not possible, because this would be against the will of God since the Word of God says “the adulterous will not inherit the kingdom of God” [1 Corinthians 6:9] He said that such attitudes resemble those of the early Christian Gnostics “for whom, there could be definitely, a contradiction between doctrine, and practice” and also Martin Luther’s error “that you can receive forgiveness without real repentance and without real intention to amendment…the council of Trent condemned this.” Yet it is proposed by a certain group within the church “composed mainly of priests, and even bishops and cardinals”that divorced and re-married Catholics “who are living in adultery”would undergo “a penitential time”, after-which they can “continue in adultery, receiving the Sacraments”. Such proposals are “unfortunately, in a hidden way, written in the preparatory text for the Synod”on the Family (which will convene in Rome this October).
“No Catholic who still takes seriously his baptismal vows should allow himself to be intimidated by these new sophistic teachers, of fornication and adultery, even though some of these teachers hold the office of a bishop or of a cardinal. Such teachers in ecclesiastical offices are certainly not disciples of Christ.” They “take Christians again back to the time before Christ, to the attitude of hardheartedness, and of blindness of the heart towards the original, holy and wise will of God. They take Christians back to an attitude similar to that of the Pagans, who don’t know God and don’t know His will. Only the “original divine truths regarding marriage and sexuality which Christ has restored and the Church has unchangingly transmitted…will bring new life”.
*CHAP.19 Ver.9. Except it be, &c. In the case of fornication, that is, of adultery, the wife may be put away: but even then the husband cannot marry another as long as the wife is living. [The Holy Bible; Douay-Rheims]
Recommended reading; Dominus Est! – It is the Lord! by Bishop Athanasius Schneider