Bishop Schneider: Catholics are not called to blind obedience to the Pope

February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Asked about the confusion in the Church today stemming directly from Pope Francis and how the faithful are to respond, a prominent Catholic bishop has said Catholics do not owe blind obedience to the Pope, adding that blind obedience is characteristic of a ‘dictatorship,’ not the Church

“As Catholics,” he said we have “to be submitted, (canonically) I mean, to the Pope, to the Vicar of Christ to accept his authority, to have respect for him, to pray for him, and to have a supernatural love for him.” But, he added, “this does not mean blind obedience; of course no[t] because we are not in a dictatorship.” “In a dictatorship yes, we have to obey blind or in the army.”

Rather, Bishop Schneider said, “the Church is a family were discussion is possible” and also “correction with respect and with love.” When this is not possible, he added, “there is not a true atmosphere of Church spirituality.” It would be an “atmosphere of intimidation, of repression, of fear and this is not atmosphere of the Holy Spirit.”

“St. Paul was public and even today, as he wrote this in his letter and his letter is inspired by the Holy Spirit for all generations until the end of the world, they will read the correction of the first Pope as word of God.” As Paul made the correction of the first Pope public, said Bishop Schneider, so too if Paul were alive today “he would use the Internet” as this would be similar to using his letters sent to all churches. “Therefore, there is no difficulty and problem to me that the four Cardinals published their public appeal to the Pope.”

Click HERE for the full article

Here is an article with the full interview too in which Bishop Athanasius Schneider emphatically says :

"When a bishop does this [pressuring priests to give Communion to the “remarried”], he commits a grave abuse of power; he is ordering to sin.* And when a bishop – or even a pope – commands me to sin, I have to refuse these [commands] because I have to obey God***. And therefore, in this case, the priest has to say: “You Excellency, dear Bishop, you order me to commit a sin, and I cannot [do] this, I have to obey God. And I cannot obey you in this case.”

Obviously His Excellency made this statement in the context of the current very heated debate in the Church over the issue of communion for the divorced and remarried… but that aside, I think this is a good reminder during all papacies. I think some of the faithful have an over inflated sense of the role of the papacy in the spiritual life of the Church. He is not equivalent to the Mormon Prophet uttering divine revelations. The Church is not a single super-diocese over which the Pope is the one and only true bishop. Vatican II was careful to clarify the role of the local bishops in order to avoid excessive interpretations of Vatican I’s dogmatic decree on papal primacy. While the Pope does have universal jurisdiction, and is *the *Vicar of Christ, each and every bishop is truly a Vicar of Christ in and over the local Church entrusted to him…not a mere vicar or deputy of the Pope.

Asked about the confusion in the Church today stemming directly from Pope Francis

A terrible accusation to make against the Holy Father. I will never read anything that comes from that website.

“Do not ever forget these three things: devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, devotion to Mary Help of Christians, and devotion to the Holy Father!” - Saint John Bosco

What do Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims and atheists all have in common?

They don’t obey the Pope.

I do not trust lifesitenews. At all. Too hysterical and divisive in their own right. It seems that they give little obedience, but demand it of the Church. They are media and Catholic or not, all media must be discerned carefully.

Saint Francis of Assisi vowed obedience to his Bishop in all things except sin. As utterly difficult as that is, we need so much more of it today.

With all due respect to the saint, I don’t think we can put devotion to the person of the Holy Father on the same level as our devotion to Our Lady or to the Blessed Sacrament. Keep in mind that this is a very recent notion. Do you think the average Catholic in, say, the 2nd through 17th centuries, had any notion who the current Pope was or what he was saying in very distant Rome?

I agree that a degree of devotion to the Bishop of Rome is appropriate… but it is also necessary to have devotion to one’s local bishop:
*See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. * - St. Ignatius of Antioch

I strongly feel that reconciliation with the Orthodox Churches is not an option until modern Catholics tone down the very novel hyper-devotion to the papacy…which simply wasn’t present in most of Catholic history.

Devotion to the Pope is as old as the Church itself:

15 "Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that when Peter came, his shadow at the least, might overshadow any of them, and they might be delivered from their infirmities." Acts 5:15

See also:

Don’t let EO apologists fool you. All of their arguments against the Pope were made up in the second millennium. You won’t find anyone in the first millennium who argues against the supremacy of Rome.


I agreed with article, which said if a pope asks us to sin, we have an obligation to refuse. That’s correct.

During the history of the Church, we have had popes who have been heretical. Let’s not forget it’s happened and it is a possibility. We do not owe blind obedience to anyone, including the Pope (key word being “blind”). We only obey if it’s not sinful.

I agree.Lifesite News seems rather sensationalistic in their news.A few articles appear to be authentic and inspirational but on the whole they are very misleading.

No, we have not had heretic Popes. That is a lie made up by the enemies of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

The Church of Rome has never erred, and never will err.

I agree. This isn’t the first article of theirs where I’ve seen pretty horrible accusations and insinuations about the Pope.

I thought they were simply supposed to be a pro-life website? :shrug:

The Pope himself would never engage in such rhetoric. How do your comments advance the Church’s cause of ecumenism?

I disavow the ad hominem attacks on LifeSiteNews.

The bishop’s statement is reported as accurate.

Our first obligation is to the Truth, not to any office or any one man or woman.

With all of the virtue-signaling going and false humility and other emotions going on, Catholics in America especially would do well to avoid scandal and listen to the bishop.

Or be prepared to fall into darkness and stand with your hands on hips with a crooked look on the face asking “Huh? How did THAT happen?”.

Actually we have. Pope Honorius was condemned by one of his successors…not by enemies of the Church. Yes, the reigning Pope condemned the previous Pope… You can read all about it from a Catholic source…try the Old Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent.
Papal infallibility does not mean that a pope is protected from holding personal heretical opinions. He simply can’t bind the Church to those opinions.
We don’t help the cause of apologetics by exaggerating the merits of the papacy. Popes are sinners and, outside of very, very, very limited circumstances, fallible. Many popes have been saints…but not all.

To quote the Formula of Hormisdas, by showing that “the whole, true, and perfect security of the Christian religion” resides in the Apostolic See of Rome.

I didn’t say anything about the primacy of Rome, which certainly has always existed. I’m talking about devotion to the person of the Pope. I stand by my earlier comments. Most Catholics in most of Church history wouldn’t have had a clue what the Pope in distant Rome was saying or doing… the hyper-devotion you’re advocating is novel.
St. Peter was obviously a special case…the Church was also very small at that point. I’m not arguing against devotion to the person of the Pope…but it needs to have its limits. Popes can and do make mistakes. Our local bishop is our primary shepherd as far as we as individual Christians are concerned.

Yet modern Popes don’t speak the way you are… Can you imagine Pope Francis saying something along the lines of “the problem with you Orthodox is that you don’t obey me!”

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