Credo: A Compendium of the Catholic Faith by Bishop Athanasius Schneider is promoted by its publisher, Sophia Institute Press, as offering “a clear and readable summary of Catholicism as a whole, given in the pastoral style of the apostles.” The marketing copy claims that the book’s author “shares a bold new articulation of timeless truths, while also engaging current issues with courage and kindness.”
The publisher of the book puts its claims of orthodoxy front-and-center, stating in the publisher’s preface that Credo is “a complete explanation of Catholicism which is both thorough and readable; true to the changeless Magisterium and captivatingly current; at once ancient and contemporary, faithful and fruitful.” Bolstering the claim is the fact that the book bears the imprimatur, dated July 7, 2023, of Bishop Peter Libasci of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire.
The book has enthusiastic endorsements from figures such as Bishop Joseph Strickland, Cardinal Robert Sarah, and Scott Hahn. Although Strickland is well known for his open dissent against the living Magisterium and the teachings of Pope Francis, the endorsements of Sarah and Hahn raise questions about their views and supports the claim that both are aligned with radical traditionalists in opposition to the pope and his teachings.
Unfortunately, having read through the book and finding many troubling contradictions of the Magisterium and doctrinal errors throughout, it is clear that this book is anything but orthodox and amounts to little more than radical traditionalist propaganda. From start to finish, examples of heterodoxy abound, ranging from the explicit rejection of teachings from Vatican II documents to criticism of passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. There are also multiple instances in which Schneider describes the official teachings and declarations of Pope Francis as “doctrinally erroneous.”
Although we’ve come to expect radical traditionalism from both Bishop Schneider and Sophia Institute Press (they published Taylor Marshall’s Infiltration, after all), Credo is especially concerning because not only does it purport to be a catechism, but the imprimatur by Bishop Libasci is a public indication that ecclesial authority has reviewed the book and determined that it is free from error. The book does not bear a nihil obstat, so perhaps it was not reviewed thoroughly.
I reached out to Bishop Libasci on Saturday to ask that he withdraw the imprimatur and to let him know that I planned to write an article about the book. I did not receive a direct reply from Libasci, who currently stands accused of sexually abusing a minor while serving as a priest in the diocese of Rockville Centre in New York in the 1980s, but today I did receive a message from a chancery staffer “to acknowledge receipt,” noting that “The Diocese of Manchester always appreciates the vigilance of the faithful.”
What are the problems with Credo? Honestly, there are too many to count, but let’s look at a few examples. These are not exhaustive but should demonstrate that Credo is a problematic text. (Note: These quotes come from the Kindle Edition of the book, which has different pagination than the print edition and does not correspond to the page number in the index.)
Examples of Problematic Teachings in ‘Credo’
96. Then man is not a creature that the Creator has willed for its own sake?10
No. Although man should never be used as a mere means to an end, the notion that man exists simply “for his own sake” is the self-referential error of anthropocentrism, rooted in the unchristian philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724–1804).
(Footnote 10 says, “The Council of Vatican II’s document Gaudium et Spes, 24 made the ambiguous affirmation that “man is the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake.”)
208. Then Muslims do not adore the one and merciful God “together with us” Catholics?39
No. Catholics consciously profess and adore “one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity,”40 not simply “the one God”; whereas one of the most famous and frequent Muslim prayers, the Al-Ikhlas Ayat, solemnly rejects this divine revelation.41
(Footnote 39 says, “For this ambiguous affirmation, see Council of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 16.”)
209. Is it true to say that Muslims hold the faith of Abraham?42
No. Abraham saw three and adored one43 (see Gn 18:2–3) and rejoiced in the vision of the future Redeemer (see Jn 8:56), excluding neither Christ nor the Trinity in his faith. Conversely, the Muslim explicitly excludes faith in Christ and the Holy Trinity.
(Footnote 42 says, “See this misleading phrase in Council of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 16, and repeated in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 841.”)
The section on “Human Dignity and Fraternity” contains numerous problematic assertions:
224. Is the dignity of the human person rooted in his creation in God’s image and likeness?
This was true for Adam, but with original sin the human person lost this resemblance and dignity in the eyes of God. He recovers this dignity through baptism, and keeps it as long as he does not sin mortally.
225. Then human dignity is not the same in all persons?
No. The human person loses his dignity in proportion to his free choice of error or evil; e.g., the dignity of Adolph Hitler and St. Francis of Assisi are not the same.
(Contrast these with many magisterial statements, for example CCC 1934: “Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all therefore enjoy an equal dignity.”)
226. Isn’t every human person a “son or daughter of the One who wants to be called ‘our Father’”?52
No. One becomes a child of God only through explicit faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word and Son of God, being reborn of God (see Jn 1:12–13) through the sacrament of baptism (see Jn 3:5; and 1 Pt 1:3–23). “It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants” (Rom 9:8).
(Footnote 52: “A regrettable affirmation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2212.”)
227. Does Christian humanism radically affirm the dignity of every person as a child of God, thereby establishing a basic fraternity?53
No. It is the sacrament of baptism that establishes basic human fraternity, for, “there is no parity between the condition of those who have adhered to the Catholic truth by the heavenly gift of faith, and the condition of those who, led by human opinions, follow a false religion”; and, “if anyone shall say that the condition of the faithful, and of those who have not yet attained to the only true Faith is on a par, let him be anathema.”54
(Footnote 53: “A confusing claim of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1676.”)
There are many more examples, including accusations from Bishop Schneider that St. John Paul II has gravely contradicted tradition and that Pope Francis has taught doctrinal errors. But the above should be sufficient to alert well-educated Catholics who seek to think with the Church that there are grave problems with this book.
We may cover these more in-depth in future articles. Also, in case you missed it, I went over some of the errors in Credo in the latest episode of The Debrief: