Friday, March 14, 2008

Who will be the new bishop of Hexham and Newcastle?

Yesterday I was at a clergy lunch. As might be expected the conversation was dominated by recent events. Conversation soon turned to trying to guess who our new bishop might be. Naturally names of priests of the diocese were put forward as we imagined them as bishop until we remembered that it appears to be very rare these days for a priest of a diocese to become bishop of his own diocese. So it may well be another episcopal vicar or auxilary bishop from an archdiocese. However I`m holding out for bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan who made a name for himself at the Synod on the Eucharist speaking about a preference for receiving holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. He is an auxilary bishop and so is free. He also speaks English and is 46 years old. I`m not really expecting a transfer from Kazakhstan to Newcastle but I must try and get a copy of his book on the Eucharist. Here is an article about him from the Catholic News Agency of America: it all makes sense to me.

Bishop calls receiving Communion on the tongue more reverent

“It is not a question of ritualism, but a question of faith and love for Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider

CNA STAFF, Mar 5, 2008 / 06:21 am (CNA).- Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Kazakhstan, in a new interview has expanded his advocacy of reverence at Mass and receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

The Vatican Editing House recently released Bishop Schneider’s book "Dominus Est: Meditations of a Bishop from Central Asia on the Sacred Eucharist." The book contains a foreword by Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, the Vatican’s Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments.

In a video interview conducted by, Bishop Schneider said that his book aims to "strengthen the consciousness" of the holiness of Mass among the clergy and laity.
The archbishop said that contemporary celebrations of Mass were "so superficial," lacking "due concentration" and "visible, external signs of reverence."

"We are composed of body and soul," Bishop Schneider said. "We have to worship and to adore Christ in this moment also with our body. There is a mutual influence between the exterior sign and the interior disposition.

“Therefore, here is not a question of some 'right,' but here is a question of-- we are dealing with the Lord Himself, and therefore we cannot be silent, especially I as bishop, and say 'OK, it's all OK.' It's not all OK. When we love our Lord, we have to strengthen this moment in order that it become more sacred in order to educate the exterior sign of adoration, which is also an education of faith."

He referred to the common formal gestures used to greet a president, a king, or a queen, saying comparable respect for the King of Kings was necessary.

"It is not a question of ritualism,” he said, “but a question of faith and love for Our Lord, Jesus Christ."

The archbishop responded to one objection to receiving Holy Communion in the hand, which claims that because one sins more with the tongue than with the hand, the hand is more fitting to receive the Sacrament. He dismissed the argument, by saying that, "In any case, Holy Communion comes on the tongue."

In the interview, Bishop Schneider also addressed the history of the reception of Holy Communion and the question of whether contemporary abuses, such as receiving Holy Communion while chewing gum, can be corrected.

You can watch the interview here:

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