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Catholic Church Excommunicates Ex-Vatican Ambassador To Nigeria

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A former apostolic nuncio to Nigeria and the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò,  has been formally excommunicated by the Vatican for schism.

The excommunication of the senior priest is a rare and severe penalty within the Catholic Church in modern times.

Meteor had reported how the former apostolic nuncio (the Vatican’s ecclesiastical diplomat) in Nigeria, issued a statement denouncing Pope Francis and calling for his removal from office. Vigano served in Nigeria from 1992 to 1998.

The statement, delivered amidst a backdrop of mounting tension within the Church, accused the pontiff of leading the Church astray and embracing doctrines contrary to traditional Catholic teachings.

The decision, announced by the Vatican’s doctrinal office, follows a lengthy process that bespeaks the deep divisions within the Church hierarchy.

According to a press release from the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Viganò, 83, was found guilty of the reserved delict of schism, signifying his refusal to acknowledge the authority of Pope Francis and the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

The statement says, “On 4 July 2024, the Congress of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith met to conclude the extrajudicial penal process referred to in canon 1720 CIC against the Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganò, titular Archbishop of Ulpiana, accused of the reserved delict of schism (canons 751 and 1364 CIC; art. 2 SST).

“His public statements manifesting his refusal to recognize and submit to the Supreme Pontiff, his rejection of communion with the members of the Church subject to him, and the legitimacy and magisterial authority of the Second Vatican Council are well known.

“At the conclusion of the penal process, the Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganò was found guilty of the reserved delict of schism.

“The Dicastery declared the latae sententiae excommunication in accordance with canon 1364 § 1 CIC. The lifting of the censure in these cases is reserved to the Apostolic See. This decision was communicated to the Most Reverend Viganò on 5 July 2024.”

The proceedings against Archbishop Viganò gained public attention when he disclosed the Vatican’s summons to defend himself against charges of schism.

His refusal to engage in the process led to the appointment of a public defender on his behalf.

In his statement on X.com, the archbishop consistently referred to Pope Francis by his name: Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

He had said, “I do not recognize the authority of the tribunal that claims to judge me, nor of its Prefect, nor of the one who appointed him.

“This cowardly and culpable surrender began with the convocation of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and with the underground and highly organised action of clergymen and laity linked to the Masonic sects, aimed at slowly but surely subverting the structure of government and magisterium of the Church in order to demolish Her from within.

“It is useless to look for other reasons: the documents of the secret sects demonstrate the existence of an infiltration plan conceived in the nineteenth century and carried out a century later, exactly in the terms in which it was conceived.

“We find ourselves in the surreal situation in which a Hierarchy calls itself Catholic and therefore demands obedience from the ecclesial body, while at the same time professing doctrines that before the Council the Church had condemned; and at the same time condemning doctrines as heretical that up until then had been taught by all the Popes.

“How would the Pontiffs of recent centuries have acted today? Would they judge me guilty of schism, or would they rather condemn the one who claims to be their Successor?”

Pope Francis. Photograph: Vatican News/X.com.

Archbishop Viganò has been a controversial figure within the Church, particularly known for his outspoken criticisms of Pope Francis and allegations of misconduct within the Church hierarchy.

 His accusations, including claims that the Pope was aware of sexual misconduct allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, have stirred significant controversy but have been consistently denied by the Vatican.

The excommunication carries serious implications under Canon Law, including restrictions on participating in sacraments and holding ecclesiastical offices.

Despite this punitive measure, Archbishop Viganò remains unrepentant, continuing to communicate through social media platforms.

In response to his excommunication, Archbishop Viganò quoted scripture, urging his supporters to stand by him: “If they keep quiet, the stones themselves will start shouting.”

This decision highlights ongoing tensions within the Catholic Church over doctrinal and administrative reforms, with Archbishop Viganò representing a faction opposed to what he perceives as liberalising trends within the Church.

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