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Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, greets Pope Francis in his car.Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, greets Pope Francis in his car after a meeting with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers at the cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Sept. 15, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (CNS)—Awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis, a bishop who frequently criticizes Pope Francis told reporters that speaking up when he disagrees with the pope is an expression of “collegiality.”

For example, Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, told reporters Pope Francis’ participation in the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions -- the principal reason the pope traveled to Kazakhstan -- was “dangerous” because it could “undermine the uniqueness and absoluteness of Jesus Christ as savior and of our mission to preach to all nations, to all religions, Jesus Christ.”

The bishop made his comments Sept. 15 while awaiting Pope Francis’ arrival at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in Nur-Sultan for a meeting with bishops, priests, religious, laity and seminarians.

Bishop Schneider said the congress could give the impression that the pope supports “a supermarket of religions” that people could choose freely from.

Bishop Schneider said the congress could give the impression that the pope supports “a supermarket of religions” that people could choose freely from.

“This is not correct because there is only one true religion, which is the Catholic Church, founded by God himself, but commanded to all men, to all religions, to believe and accept his son Jesus Christ, the only savior,” the bishop said.

Especially since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has professed its respect for other religions and for the sincere efforts of other believers to seek God, although it continues to profess its belief that the fullness of truth and the surest path to salvation is in Christianity. The Catholic Church supports and engages in interreligious dialogue to promote peace, mutual respect and religious freedom.

Although he has been critical of the pope, especially regarding the pope’s efforts to promote celebrations of the Latin-rite Mass only according to the reforms of Vatican II, Bishop Schneider told the reporters that if he expresses disagreement with the pope, he does so “with respect, fraternally.”

What would the Catholic Church be if no bishop can “say something to the pope. This is collegiality, this is fraternity,” he said. “I try to always do it through respect, through brotherly love, not through adulation.”

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