Bishop Athanasius Schneider is speaking out in strong support of Cardinal Robert Sarah for his new book with Benedict XVI defending priestly celibacy, calling his actions “heroic.”
News of the forthcoming volume, titled “From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy, and the Crisis of the Catholic Church,” was announced on Sunday, receiving a wave of praise but also considerable backlash.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, January 14 (see full text below), the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan argues that the “slander and lies” directed against the Guinean cardinal only prove that the new volume on priestly celibacy is both “timely” and “necessary.”
Bishop Schneider writes: “One might say that the intervention of Cardinal Sarah has provoked, so to speak, the anger of hell.”
Cardinal Sarah, he says, has “given voice” to numerous bishops, priests and laity, who have been “stifled” by “influential groups” that are lauded by the world but may rightly be numbered among the “enemies of the Catholic Faith.”
In his statement, Bishop Schneider also notes, with regret, the “abandonment” Cardinal Sarah has suffered in recent days, “even by those persons who unambiguously and without human respect should have supported him and his intervention.”
The bishop also maintains that Cardinal Sarah has “proven” by the new book that he is a “true help” to Pope Francis and the Church, and he expresses his hope that the Pope may “effectively and fruitfully” consider the cardinal’s contribution.
He concludes his statement of support, assuring Cardinal Sarah that the “little ones” are grateful to him and close to him in prayer.
In recent months, Bishop Schneider has offered his own forceful defense of priestly celibacy in the Latin Church. In his own new book, “Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age,” His Excellency addresses those who advocate ordaining viri probati (i.e. sexually active married men), saying: “If you knew what the Catholic priesthood really is, you would never for any reason whatsoever advocate weakening or abolishing the apostolic tradition of priestly celibacy.”
Here below is the full statement of Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in support of Cardinal Sarah and his new book “From the Depths of Our Hearts.”
The book is now available for pre-order from Ignatius Press.