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Vatican excommunicates Viganò for schism

The Vatican has officially excommunicated Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith announced Friday.

Viganò was found guilty of the canonical crime, or delict, of schism, or the refusal to submit to the pope or the communion of the Church, at the conclusion of the Vatican’s extrajudicial penal process on July 4.

The Vatican’s doctrine office announced the “latae sententiae” excommunication (automatic excommunication) on July 5, citing Viganò’s “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 of the legitimacy and magisterial authority of the Second Vatican Council.”

The former papal nuncio to the United States is now excommunicated, the most serious penalty a baptized person can incur, which consists of being placed outside the communion of the faithful of the Catholic Church and denied access to the sacraments. 

The ruling comes after Viganò defied a Vatican summons to appear before the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith to face charges of schism last week.

The former Vatican diplomat — who garnered headlines in 2018 for alleging that senior Church officials covered up abuses committed by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick — has repeatedly rejected the authority of Pope Francis since then and has called on him to resign.

In a lengthy statement shared on social media June 28, Viganò accused Pope Francis of “heresy and schism” over his promotion of COVID-19 vaccines and his overseeing of the 2018 Vatican-China deal on the appointment of bishops.

He also said he has “no reason to consider myself separate from communion with the holy Church and with the papacy, which I have always served with filial devotion and fidelity.”

“I maintain that the errors and heresies to which [Francis] adhered before, during, and after his election, along with the intention he held in his apparent acceptance of the papacy, render his elevation to the throne null and void,” Viganò wrote.

Viganò, who has been in hiding for years, announced on social media June 20 that he had been summoned to Rome to answer formal charges of schism.

The specific charges outlined against Viganò, according to a document he himself posted, involved making public statements that allegedly deny the fundamental elements necessary to maintain communion with the Catholic Church. This included denying the legitimacy of Pope Francis as the rightful pontiff and the outright rejection of the Second Vatican Council.

In response to the charges, Viganò said in a June 21 statement that he had not sent any materials in his defense to the Vatican, noting that he did not recognize the authority of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith “nor that of its prefect, nor that of the person who appointed him.”

Viganò’s excommunication can only be lifted by the Apostolic See.

This article was originally published on CNA.

Author Name

Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.

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