Auxiliary Bishop Schneider has affirmed the SSPX thinks with the Church's mind. Hence, there should be no serious reason for denying the priestly society full canonical recognition.
From the blog, Rorate Caeli [the Spanish-language version, Adelante la Fe], we offer some extracts from a recent interview of Bishop Athanasius Schneider concerning the SSPX and other matters of the post-conciliar crisis.
Note that we have rearranged the order of the interview questions/answers and made some minor corrections to the translation.
Adelante la Fe: Your Excellency has recently visited the SSPX seminaries in the United States and France. We know it was a "discreet" meeting but, can you make an evaluation for us of what you saw and talked with them about? What expectations do you have of a coming reconciliation and which would be the main obstacle for it?
Bishop Schneider: The Holy See asked me to visit the two seminaries of the SSPX in order to conduct a discussion on a specific theological topic with a group of theologians of the SSPX and with His Excellency Bishop Fellay.
For me this fact shows that for the Holy See the SSPX is not a negligible ecclesiastical reality and that it has to be taken seriously. I am keeping a good impression of my visits. I could observe a sound theological, spiritual and human reality in the two seminaries.
The "sentire cum ecclesia" of the SSPX is shown by the fact that I was received as an envoy of the Holy See with true respect and with cordiality. Furthermore, I was glad to see in both places in the entrance area a photo of Pope Francis, the reigning Pontiff. In the sacristies there were plates with the name of Pope Francis and the local diocesan bishop. I was moved to assist the traditional chant for the pope ("Oremus pro pontifice nostro Francisco…") during the solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
To my knowledge there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition, meanwhile they should be accepted as they are. This was indeed Archbishop Lefebvre’s petition to the Holy See: "Accept us as we are".
I think the issue of Vatican II should not be taken as the "conditio sine qua non", since it was an assembly with primarily pastoral aims and characteristics. A part of the conciliar statements reflects only its time and possesses a temporary value, as disciplinary and pastoral documents do. When we look in a two millennia old perspective of the Church, we can state, that there is on both sides (Holy See and the SSPX) an over-evaluation and over-estimation of a pastoral reality in the Church, which is Vatican II.
When the SSPX believes, worships and conducts a moral life as it was demanded and recognized by the Supreme Magisterium and was observed universally in the Church during a centuries long period and when the SSPX recognizes the legitimacy of the pope and the diocesan bishops and prays for them publicly and recognizes also the validity of the sacraments according to the editio typica of the new liturgical books, this should suffice for a canonical recognition of the SSPX on behalf of the Holy See.
Otherwise the often repeated pastoral and ecumenical openness in the Church of our days will manifestly loose its credibility and the history will one day reproach to the ecclesiastical authorities of our days that they have "laid on the brothers greater burden than required" (cf. Acts 15:28), which is contrary to the pastoral method of the Apostles.
Other extracts from the interview
Adelante la Fe: In your book Dominus est, ...[you] offer some remarks on the history and liturgy of Holy Communion. In which ways has the practice of receiving Communion in the hand weakened faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist?
Bishop Schneider: It is now a proven fact that a considerable part of those who receive Holy Communion habitually in hand, especially the younger generation which had not known the manner of receiving Communion kneeling and on the tongue, do not fully have the Catholic faith in the Real Presence, because they treat the consecrated Host almost in the same exterior manner as they take ordinary food. The exterior minimalistic gesture has a causal connection to the weakening or even loss of the Faith in the Real Presence.
Adelante la Fe: On January 15, 2012 Your Excellency participated in the 4th Rencontre pour l’unite catholique in Paris, with a lecture on New Evangelization and Holy Liturgy. In this important dissertation you addressed the five wounds in Christ’s liturgical mystical body: the priest turned towards the congregation, Holy Communion taken in the hand, the new Offertory prayers, the disappearance of Latin in liturgical celebrations and the performing of some ministries, such as those of lector and acolyte, by women…
Bishop Schneider: None of these liturgical wounds can even remotely be supported by Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. They have been introduced according to a specific agenda of a small group of liturgists who fatally occupied key positions in the Roman Curia in the immediate post-conciliar period and who with cunning and tricks presented such radical changes (with the exception of the practice of Communion in hand) sometimes as the will of the pope and sometimes as an almost unanimous decision of the members of the Commission of the Liturgical Reform.
Such manipulations are documented e.g. in the book of Cardinal Fernando Antonelli The Development of the Liturgical Reform and in the book of Louis Bouyer Memoires, both authors being members of the post-conciliar Liturgical Commission and so eye and ear witnesses of the above mentioned manipulations.
It is a mysterious permission of God that the good intentions of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council and their moderate dispositions on liturgical reform, fell into the hand of impious and revolutionary liturgical ideologues. They brought the sacred liturgy of the Holy Roman Church in a state of captivity, in a kind of liturgical "exile of Avignon"…
Adelante la Fe: ...With so much talk about the "option for the poor", for the weak, why are we not aware of the presence of the Poorest among the poor in the Holy Eucharist? To what extent can we say protestant mentality has invaded the Catholic Church?
Bishop Schneider: The fact that Christ under the Eucharistic Species became today really the most weak, vulnerable, defenseless and the most dishonored in midst of the Church, is a clear and sad indicator to what extent the love and the integrity of the Catholic faith in the Eucharist and in the Incarnation diminished.
Indeed, the essence of Protestantism consists in the rejection of the fullness of the truth of Incarnation with all its implications and consequences: the visibility of the Church, of the sacramental life, of the concreteness and greatness of the Eucharistic Presence, of the incarnatorial characteristics of the liturgy.
The current crisis of the Church manifests itself mainly in these two attitudes: a gnostic spiritualism and a horizontal naturalism, and the very root of them is the anthropocentrism, which on its part is a typical characteristic of Protestantism.
Adelante la Fe: Does Your Excellency think pre-Vatican II Church was isolated form the real world, full of privileges and closed in itself? Was the aim of Vatican II creating a different Church from that received by Tradition?
Bishop Schneider: The period before Vatican II, especially after the Council of Trent, was characterized by an amazingly great and dynamic missionary activity, comparable in its effects to some degree to the missionary period after Pentecost, so e.g., the missionary work of St. Francis Xavier, especially the Jesuit Order as a whole, the admirable missionary work of several Religious Congregations in the African and Asian Continent in the 19th and the 20th centuries.
With her missionary work the Church contributed decisively also to a higher cultural, scientific and social-sanitary level of the life of many nations. ...the Church before Vatican II was in no way closed in herself or isolated from the real world.
Neither Pope John XXIII nor the vast majority of the Fathers of Vatican II aimed to create a different Church. All the documents and speeches of John XXIII, the preparatory documents of the Council (schemata) and the Acts of the Council itself demonstrate it well enough. The true relationship of the Church to the real world or to the temporal society has been always realized according to the theological principle "gratia supponit naturam", i.e., the grace (Church) presupposes the nature (world), purifying, elevating and perfecting it.
If the Church no more or not sufficiently enough influences the world and its realities with the supernatural gifts (grace, light of Divine truth) and instead deals predominantly with affaires of natural and temporal realities (e.g., social justice, ecology), than the Church closes herself in the temporal and deprives the world of the eternal, of heaven.
The fact that the predominant activity of many of the official structures of the Catholic Church (associations, commissions etc.) is isolated from the supernatural, from heaven, and is immersed in the temporal and in the horizontal, represents the core problem of the current crisis of the Church.
The obstacles in the implementation of Summorum Pontificum are based on the fact, that a considerable part of the clergy has a disturbed relationship with the principle of organic tradition and manifests a spirit of rupture towards the liturgical inheritance of the Church. On other reason of their resistance and antipathy towards Summorum Pontificum is the lack of self-criticism regarding some obvious defects of the post-conciliar liturgical reforms.
When I officiate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form or to be more precise in the Traditional Form, I have the salutary and beneficial awareness and experience that I am not the owner and the boss of the sacred rite, but really only the servant, fulfilling the will and the commands of the Church, the Bride of Christ, praying in the spirit and even with the concrete formulas and gestures which belong to the Catholic generations of a more than a millennial period.
One has an awareness to carry out even in the smallest ritual details something which is not pure human and temporal, but eternal and heavenly, celebrating the supreme act of adoration of the ineffable majesty of the Triune God, who mercifully overwhelms us with the redeeming graces.
The deepest root of the faith crisis is the anthropocentrism and naturalism, which manifest itself in an attitude of seeing and judging the truth of Divine revelation and of Divine worship predominantly with rationalist and pure humanistic criteria and with the criteria of the changeable human history. Such an attitude leads to a dogmatic, moral and liturgical relativism and ultimately a serious defect of faith and this is then no more far from apostasy and paganism.
The words of our Divine Savior refer in first place to all disciples of Christ and especially to the current crisis inside the Church: "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8).
It is an honor and a privilege to be faithful to the Divine truth and to the spiritual and liturgical traditions of our forefathers and of the saints and being therefore marginalized by those who currently occupy administrative power in the Church….With St. Athanasius I would like to tell you these words:
Those in the Church who oppose, humiliate and marginalize you, have occupied the churches, while during this time you are outside; it is a fact that they have the premises—but you have the Apostolic Faith. They claim that they represent the Church, but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray." (cf. Letter to his flock)