Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, interviewed recently in London by Daniel Blackman for 1P5.
DB: Within the Church there is a long history of Jewish converts to the Faith – Alphonse Ratisbonne, […]Edith Stein, WWII Chief Rabbi of Rome Eugenio Zolli, and more recently former Orthodox rabbi Jean-Marie Eli Satbon. Yet a recent document from the Commission for Interreligious Relations with the Jews, says the Church has no formal organised mission to convert the Jews (par 40-49). Is that now true? Is this a correction of previous teaching and practice?
BAS: This is truly wrong. It contradicts the words of Our Lord who said “Go and teach all people,” he did not say “all people except the Jewish people,” he said all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that If you don’t believe in me you won’t have life. He told this to the Jews also, and he continues to say this to the Jews of our days. They too need to be obedient to God’s covenant which Jesus instituted. Therefore the apostles preached to the Jews in the synagogue.
For 2000 years the Church has always prayed for the conversion of the Jews. This is an act of mercy and love. The church invites and encouraged the Jews to come to Christ. There were converts, even saints who were Jewish converts. Alphonse Ratisbonne founded a religious congregation to evangelize the Jewish people. So it is for me ever valid, and no Church document can invalidate this because it contradicts the words of Our Lord, it contradicts the Apostles, and all the unchangeable and permanent words of the Church for over 2000 years.
DB: You live in a country that is about 70% Muslim. What is your experience of living in a Muslim majority country? Is there cooperation or conflict? Do Muslims become Catholics?
BAS: Thanks be to God there is peace and harmony, the people are very tolerant, and there is no hostility. There has not been extremism in the mentality and culture of the people, and the government is very active in supporting inter-religious dialogue. They are very vigilant to avoid, and even expel from the country, those who are extremist.
The government organises meetings to share common values for society, there is nothing theological about these meetings, but only to make a contribution to improve the social life of the people, which I consider very positive. For example, in this current world-wide gender ideology which is now imposed on a world wide scale with dictatorial methods, thanks be to God, the Muslims share the same view on this issue. Together we condemn the gender agenda, and influences that are against the family.
DB: Does the Catholic Church have a mission to Muslims?
BAS: It is also our duty yes, they are redeemed by Christ, and they have to know Christ the same as the Jews do. But of course it is difficult to evangelise the Muslims in Islamic countries. It is very dangerous. But at least we can give, in those countries, our witness and presence. I have experiences of people with a Muslim background who start to seek Christ and ask for the truth, so I have witnessed conversion among my personal contacts. Since we have liberty and freedom, and since we are not yet in Islamic majority countries in Europe, not yet I say, as it can come, but since not yet, we can use and should use the mission to our Islamic neighbours, not proselytism which is not morally correct, but to evangelise.
DB: Europe has suffered several Islamic terrorist attacks –Paris, serious concerns in Belgium, and also the Middles East, parts of Africa, and Pakistan, among others. Why is this happening?
BAS: Well I don’t’ know exactly how ISIS arose, but we can see that it would be impossible for ISIS to have so many weapons and arms if they were not financed and supported by someone strong. They are doing business in arms on such a scale that it is not possible without a powerful state who gives, maybe through intermediaries, the finance and weapons they need.
Another point I would like to make is this – the international community – US, NATO – have enough power to finish off ISIS, and they could have done it in the beginning. They have good, very good, secret services that already knew about the rise of ISIS, but they have done nothing. The EU, NATO, USA, have done nothing, yet they had the knowledge. They did not prevent ISIS. They have enough power, yet they allowed the ISIS terrorist movement.
DB: Why do you think that might be?
BAS: I don’t know their intentions, the intentions of the powerful of our world, the Western states. I don’t know why they didn’t prevent it. You can say that indirectly, they supported it. It could be that they have political aims. Through ISIS, they have programmed to bring about the invasion of many Muslim people to Europe, to bring about a destabilization, even in the heart of Europe, not just the Middle East. Such a huge presence of people from another culture, with a more radical view of Islamic religion, will cause conflicts, with time, and tensions with the local population. It is and will cause a general instability and confusion. Maybe someone who is powerful would like to use this instability for a purpose.
DB: The Church has a long history, over a number of centuries, of denouncing Freemasonry. However, the new code of canon law has removed any reference to masonry, and we no long longer see documents or hear anything from Church leaders about this. It can give the impression Masonry is no longer a danger. The Masonic lodges have also warmly welcomed Pope Francis.
BAS: Freemasonry is in itself intrinsically not compatible with Christian or Catholic faith, it is intrinsically not compatible, because the nature of freemasonry is anti-Christian. They deny Christ, and they deny the objective truths, they promote relativism, which is contrary to the truth, to the Gospel. So they promote the doctrinal errors of the Masonic philosophy. This is incompatible with Christian and Catholic faith.
Freemasonry has also an esoteric aspect, which is not Christian. They have rituals and ceremonies which are esoteric, which they openly admit, and such ceremonials are contrary to the faith. Their symbols and rituals demonstrate that they are against the divine truths in the Gospel – these things transmit show that Freemasonry is another religion. I repeat, freemasonry is another religion, it is an anti-Christ religion.
For the full interview read much more at One Peter Five.