PODCAzT 116: Bp. Athanasius Schneider’s proposal for a “Syllabus” on the correct interpretation of Vatican II

His Excellency Most Rev. Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, has made quite a splash over the last few years.

He first caught people’s eyes at the Synod on the Eucharist in 205 in Rome where he gave an intervention, as a priest, while secretary of the liturgy committee of the bishops’ conference in Kazakhstan.  He suggested to the Fathers of the Synod, if you can believe this, that faith in and devotion to the Eucharist wasn’t all that it should be in some places.  He suggested that to foster faith and devotion we should perhaps kneel and receive Communion – I am not making this up – on the tongue rather than in the hand.

Athanasius SchneiderHis ideas found favor in some high quarter, for soon thereafter he was consecrated bishop.  A book with his radical views was published by the Vatican’s own publishing house with a preface by the then-secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship, Malcolm, now Cardinal, Ranjith.   His book Dominus Est is in now in English.

On 17 December 2010, again in Rome, Bp. Schneider gave an address at a conference which attracted more attention.

In the face of chaos which has been caused by a misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council, by liberals who want to use the Council as a tool to force the Church into conformity with the world, or traditionalists who desire to reject the Council, Bp. Schneider proposed that there should be a document with magisterial effect which corrects false interpretations and offers positive guidelines.  This would be a sort of “Syllabus”, both of errors and proper principles.

The whole text in English is HERE, thanks to the good folks at EWTN.

To set up his proposal, Schneider offers an over view of the “pastoral” objective of the Council in 7 Vote for Fr. Z!points, derived from Sacrosanctum Concilium 9.

He states that the only authentic interpreters of the Council are Councils themselves and the Roman Pontiffs.  Therefore, in his exposition, Bp. Schneider makes extensive references to addresses of Bl. John XXIII and Paul VI during the sessions of the Council itself wherein they talk about the purpose and goals and context of the Second Vatican Council.

Bp. Schneider has strong and good observations about liturgical practice and, and this will raise the hackles on liberal necks, the need for brave faithful pastors who will not shrink from doing their duty in protecting and teaching the Catholic Faith without distortions or diminution.  He has mordant observations in this regard, though delivered in a gentle way.

I have read the entire text of the address from beginning to end.  It is long, so you may want to listen in stages.  You will find the part about rupture and the proposal for a “Syllabus” in the second half.

I read all the references and citations.  I don’t use the convention of saying “quote… unquote” or the like.  Hopefully you will hear the citations in the way I read them.

I hope this will be useful to those of you who haven’t the time or patience to read the address, but can listen to it with attention.

At the end of my PODCAzT I include a tune that was on the pop charts in October 1962 as the Second Vatican Council was opened and underway.  It says something about those times and, in a way, Bp. Schneider and perhaps even the undersigned.

Name that tune.


Some pertinent PODCAzTs:

095 09-11-24 40 years ago… Paul VI on the eve of the Novus Ordo (Part III)
094 09-11-20 40 years ago… Paul VI on the eve of the Novus Ordo (Part II)
093 09-11-16 40 years ago… Paul VI on the eve of the Novus Ordo

Some recent PODCAzTs:
115 11-01-16 Singing the Eucharistic Prayer; Fr. Z sings and rants
114 11-01-07 Sing those Litanies!
113 10-12-12 More winter poems
112 10-12-08 Winter poems
111 10-12-23 4th Eucharistic Prayer; don Camillo (Part IX); digressions included
110 10-08-19 Learning the Roman Canon in Latin for Seminarians

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in HONORED GUESTS, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Ef-lover says:

    Lets pray the time round the good bishop will receive the red hat

  2. kgurries says:

    I think this Bishop is on the right track. It reminds me of the recent conference given by Msgr. Pozzo (given to FSSP) where he outlined specific errors of interpretation — and contrasts the errors with the true doctrine given by the council itself. I could see this taking the form of an encyclical (similar to CQ) with an addendum listing several condemned propositions (similar to the Syllabus). It’s a great idea and certainly do-able for this Pope.

  3. Pigeon Street says:

    Thanks Father – you’re a star. I was wondering would you address this in a post and now you’ve gone and produced a podcazt. I shall look forward to listening to this.

  4. Mike says:

    Just bought the good bishop’s book on Amazon for $8; next price is in the 70s, and another seller has it for $142. Yes!

  5. RichR says:

    I think it is a good sign that these things are being said more and more by high-ranking churchmen….and in Rome, no less! It shows that these things are on the minds of more and more clergy. Hopefully there will be a re-sacralization of the Mass (and Liturgy of the Hours) soon.

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    I had the good fortune to be His excellencies book bearer when he celebrated a Pontifical High Mass for the LMS conference at Downside Abbey last augaust and the privelige of recieving Our Lord from him; a wonderful and humble man.

  7. benedetta says:

    Ah, the Crystals, one of the great girl groups of Motown! He’s a rebel…he’s always good to me, always treats me tenderly…This dj once upon a time says excellent choice to close it out…

    And what a great podcaZt, thank you.

  8. benedetta says:

    Am putting on some Supremes now in your honor…

  9. irishgirl says:

    Wow-His Excellency nailed it!
    May he get a red hat in the near future!
    Will this talk come out, print-wise, in English? I know a group of traditional Catholics who are so dead set against ANYTHING that has come out since the Council. But they so stubbornly call our Holy Father Benedict XVI a ‘Modernist’. I can’t even say anything contrariwise in defense, because they won’t listen anyway. I wish I was more ‘learned’ [in a good and articulate way].
    ‘Name that tune’—hey, I know this one, Father Z; ‘He’s A Rebel’, by the Ronettes [I think]. I grew up during that time of the 1960s!

  10. Philippus says:

    Faith of Our Fathers – lovely to have sung in school assembly as a young lad.

  11. spesalvi23 says:

    Ahh… very nice: ethnic German, father’s name Josef, mother’s name Maria – and then he lived in Rottweil – so he’s an authentic Rottweiler… I think I like that.

  12. asperges says:

    This is a man of extraordinary insight and holiness. He preaches as clearly as he writes. I also met him last year at Downside abbey. He made a huge impression.

    We will hear, God willing, much more of him and I believe his ideas will be well received by those who matter. There could not be a better mind to set forth or oversee such a conciliar Syllabus as he proposes.

    He has a very good record so far in persuading the Pope to take his ideas on board.

  13. Someone over on Praytell blog stirred up feathers by suggesting that the gulf which exists between the reverent way OF masses are celebrated by Catholics in the former Soviet Union, and the lackadaisical manner they are done in Western Europe, America, etc…. stems from one thing: persecution. His Excellency Schneider is a product of a little band of Catholics which has suffered greatly and produced innumerable martyrs for the Faith.

    Being familiar with a number people from his ‘clan’, I would not mistake his irenic countenance for passivity. The man is on fire. He is a prophet!

  14. Henry Edwards says:

    It’s difficult to see how promulgation of such a syllabus of errors is likely now. When the Church hierarchy constituted in a way that discourages any such forthright acknowledgment of disastrous errors imposed on the faithful by the Church itself since Vatican II, and now permeating virtually every aspect of faith and practice. Particularly since every level of Church administration has been so thoroughly involved in this imposition that blame must be shared all around. A recent Remnant article includes the following paragraph:

    It is hard to meet an intelligent, Mass-going Catholic today who still denies the Church is in crisis. Most recognize the decline but still refuse to lay blame at the feet of those who had the audacity to arrogate to themselves the power to change virtually every aspect of the Church’s identify in less than a generation. What took millennia to organically grow through rites and rituals and ideas and Tradition –while nurtured by the hands of saints – was deemed anachronistic by an imperious generation of churchmen who thought they knew better. In time, when the age of novelty is far passed, our descendants will no doubt marvel that these men got away with it.

    Perhaps both the explanation of the problem and the difficulty of its solution is that they got away with it because “they” were most of them.

  15. SonofMonica says:

    irishgirl: I am 100% behind the Holy Father and am extremely grateful for his liberation of the Traditional Latin Mass, but I have to admit that his seeming infatuation with the Neocatechumenal Way gives me cause for great concern. You can get on Youtube and watch the Neocats dance around the table (they won’t call it an altar) during the Eucharist (they won’t call it a Mass). How can Pope Benedict issue Summorum Pontificum and then turn around and approve the statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, which uses neither the Ordinary Form (in any recognizable form, at least not by the rubrics) nor the Extraordinary Form? Sometimes I fear that Pope Benedict is more keen on diversity for diversity’s sake, rather than for the purpose of restoring or adhering to the Church’s authentic tradition. Sometimes. Other times, when he is combating modernism in speeches, I am more hopeful. But I can at least somewhat sympathize with your traditionalist friends’ plight.

  16. The Egyptian says:

    the Fr O’Briens of this world would have a stroke, and Sister Pantsuits would swoon
    sounds like fun!

    We can only pray
    Love this Pope
    Love the Bishop

  17. oratefratres says:

    Does anybody know the literal and correct translation of this line below from his Grace?

    “Syllabus errorum circa interpretationem Concilii Vaticani II”

  18. jlmorrell says:

    I would welcome a syllabus if it were done properly, but I’m not holding my breath. And, if I may ponder aloud, what good will another syllabus do when that of Pius IX has been virtually ignored (overturned?) for over 45 years.

  19. Sam Schmitt says:

    @SonofMonica – You can hardly say that the Holy Father has an “infatuation” with the Neocatechumenal Way. In fact, he’s been on their case since before he became pope. Soon after he was elected he has ordered them to clean up their liturgies and other things, though they have been slow to get in line.

    Sandro Magister at chiesa has been documenting this for a long time now.

  20. ipadre says:

    A song from my days in Charismatic prayer groups comes tom in. “The Spirit is a movin!”

    Thanks be to God, we are being led out of the dessert by Moses, I mean Benedict XVI.

  21. oratefratres: “Syllabus of errors surrounding the interpretation of Vatican Council II.”

  22. chonak says:

    In case the phrase isn’t familiar to some readers: it’s an echo of the 1864 “Syllabus of errors” published at the order of Pope Pius IX, to list various then-contemporary errors. The document was issued the same day as his encyclical “Quanta cura”.

  23. Tony Layne says:

    I’m sure this particular paragraph would be of great interest to frequenters of this blog:

    “An interpretation of rupture of doctrinally lesser weight is shown in the pastoral-liturgical field. One can cite under this topic the loss of the sacred and sublime character of the liturgy and the introduction of more anthropocentric gestural elements. This phenomenon makes itself evident in three liturgical practices well known and widespread in nearly all the parishes of the Catholic world: the nearly total disappearance of the use of the Latin language, the reception of the Eucharistic Body of Christ directly on the hand and standing, and the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice in the modality of a closed circle in which priest and people continually look each other in the face. This manner of praying, that is: not all facing in the same direction, which is a more natural bodily and symbolic expression with respect to the truth of everyone being spiritually turned toward God in public worship, contradicts the practice that Jesus Himself and His Apostles observed in public prayer at the temple or in the synagogue. Moreover, it contradicts the unanimous testimony of the Fathers and all the prior tradition of the Eastern and Western Church. These three pastoral and liturgical practices, in noisy rupture with the laws of prayer maintained by generations of faithful Catholics for nearly a millennium, find no support in the conciliar texts, but rather contradict either a specific text of the Council (on the Latin language, see Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 36, § 1; 54), or the “mens”, the true intention of the conciliar Fathers, as can be verified in the Acts of the Council.”

  24. michael-can says:

    Can anyone of you, learned, please tell me
    1)how did the Altar get turn around and become a table?
    2)How did all the bishop of most of the dieocese world wide decide to do away with the kneeler and communion on the tongue and then adapted the hand communion and standing?
    3) whose started the standing during consecration?
    4) why is it so troublesome for the bishop to obey the Pope, most has a mind of their own, most wanted to be protestant, only few are still Catholic.
    5) if any bishop is reading this, please take note! you are gambling and your chip are those souls in your hand….!

  25. chonak says:

    Thanks for recording this, Father Z. Since this was originally a conference talk, it does benefit from being read aloud. And a bravo for your fortitude in making an hour-long podcazt!

  26. Jack Hughes says:


    You were at downside as well? were you there just for the Mass or like me were you there for the training conference as well?

  27. THREEHEARTS says:

    There is an easy way to correct the reception of communion’s many blasphemies (See Fatima, the Angel’s suspension of the Chalice and Host and prayer)
    Do it as we did for years in the UK . Pass the Paten by hand (hand to hand0 and have the recipient hold it under his or her mouth. Both hands by the way

  28. Jakub says:

    “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their sign posts.” – St. John Chrysostom

  29. SonofMonica says:

    @Sam – Perhaps infatuation is a poor choice of words for the opinion I was trying to express about the Pope. What I mean to say is that I worry about him valuing diversity apart from its liturgical sister, legitimacy. After all, he recently referred to the Neocat way as a movement of the spirit… Really? The third person of the trinity tells you to disobey liturgical rules of the church? Tells you to deny the sacrificial nature of the mass? Tells you to dance in a druid circle? I do trust the holy father to bring in the sheep, and he’s doing a marvelous job of opening the fold, but I worry that he allows too many wolves to remain disguised in the pen with them. Its wonderful that he is finding ways to care for more and more children, but what good is taking on more children if you can’t tell any of them “no”?

  30. oratefratres says:

    I had made a Facebook page requesting our Holy Father to issue a Syllabus below. I thought of using social media to quicken the possibility of this Syllabus. I am hoping that it would recieve a multitude of the Faithful especially Bishops and Priest. That way, I am hoping that the Holy Father would notice and see the “sensum fidelium”.

    Please support this Facebook page below in the hopes of making a request to the Holy Father to Issue a Syllabus as suggested by Bishop Athanasius.

    I hope this works “sigh”. Here is the Link below:


  31. irishgirl says:

    SonOfMonica-thanks for your response to my post. I, too, am 100% behind our Holy Father. I call myself ‘a Traditional Catholic who is also a Papist’. But I share your concern about his recent approval of the statutes of the NCW. I’ve heard about some of the weird things that they do.
    But maybe he talked some sense into the group-who knows?
    I fear that the trad group I know will never listen to anything that our Holy Father says. They will still call him a ‘Modernist’. I was listening on the Internet radio station that they have; on the weekly call-in program the priest-host kept putting the Holy Father down, as well as criticizing the upcoming beatification of John Paul II. I had to turn it off; but what I really wanted to do was to email them and ask, ‘Who died and made YOU the Pope?’

  32. I read the text, which is excellent. One observation:

    Bishop Schneider: “An interpretation of rupture of doctrinally lesser weight is shown in the pastoral-liturgical field. One can cite under this topic the loss of the sacred and sublime character of the liturgy and the introduction of more anthropocentric gestural elements. ”

    I’m not keen on characterizing the liturgical rupture following the Council as being of “doctrinally lesser weight” than anything else. His Excellency makes the point that the sacred liturgy is indeed “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed and the font from which all Her power flows…” (SC 10)

    The liturgy is, in other words, the font of Divine truth. It therefore can be second to nothing in doctrinal weight, so I’m not certain the translation offered here or my read of it is precisely what Bishop Schneider truly meant.

  33. NCtrad says:


    Care to enlighten us as to which “group” you are speaking of? Based on your description of the call in program it sounds like it could be the SSPV, which is NOT trad but sedevacantist.

    Unfortunately, the Holy Father threw his lot in with the modernists at the council; but he seems to be trying to steer the Barque back on course, I pray.

  34. NCtrad says:


    And pointing out the difficuties surrounding the upcoming “beautification” and pointing out that the current Holy Father has, at times, endorsed modernists principles which were condemned by Pius IX and St Pius X doesn’t make one a “pope.”

  35. irishgirl says:

    NCTrad-yes, it is the CSPV (that’s what they call themselves now). I go to a chapel that they run in my Upstate NY city. I only go because of the Mass-I don’t go for the ‘politics’. There is an ‘authorized’ EF Mass which I used to go to, but it’s only done twice a month. And there is another EF Mass which is said in a small outlying parish by a diocesan priest who had spent some time in the FSSP, but I can’t always get there when the winter weather gets bad. Our diocese is not very welcoming to the EF-it’s in only four widely-spread parishes in the four diocesan regions.
    I’ve gotten to be friends with the priests, seminarians and Sisters of the CSPV. I’ve been to the ceremonies at their seminary and their convent. And I’ve been friends with people who go to the chapel that’s at their Sisters’ Mother House and Novitiate. I try to steer away from anything controversial when talking with any of them. They don’t teach heresy; their Masses are reverent and ‘predictable’ [i.e. no abuses]. I believe they are sincere Catholics who are trying to ‘hang on to’ and live the Faith. I just wish that they could get past their narrow views and actually LISTEN and READ what our Holy Father Benedict is saying!
    Regarding the rhetorical question I used, ‘Who died and made you Pope?’-it was something I wanted to say to the priest who does the call-in show.

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