Vatican defrocks maverick Archbishop Milingo

Archbishop Milingo

Archbishop Milingo

Zambian Archbishop Emmanual Milingo has been officially defrocked by the Vatican. The 79-year-old cleric was ordained in 1958. A gifted priest, in 1969 Pope Paul VI consecrated him as Bishop of the archdioceses of Lusaka,  as one of Africa's youngest bishops. He served there for 14 years. During the 1970's Milingo became famous as an exorcist and spiritual healer. In 1983 he was recalled to Rome because of controversy over his 'non-conventional' healing ministry. Pope John Paul II appointed him to the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. During this time Milingo appeared on Italian TV and radio shows, and conducted healing Masses which attracted thousands of people.

Archbishop Milingo hit the headlines in 1997 when he married Maria Sung, a 43 year-old South Korean acupuncturist, in a multiple wedding ceremony held by the Reverend Moon's Unification Church, in New York. Within days he had left his wife, had a personal meeting with Pope John Paul II, and renounced the marriage. Maria Sung staged a hunger strike outside the Vatican, claiming the Church was holding her husband against his will. After apologising to Ms Sung and the Church, Archbishop Milingo spent a year in spiritual retreat in Argentina and had a short reconciliation with the Church but  later rejoined his wife.  After a long silence, Milingo announced in 2002 that his new mission was to persuade the Church to allow priests to marry. In 2006 he ordained four married men as bishops, without the approval of the Holy See, thus incurring automatic excommunication. In recent months Milingo has continued ordaining bishops in illicit ceremonies.

The Vatican today issued the following statement:

"For a number of years the Church has followed with great concern the difficulties caused by the regrettable conduct of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. Many attempts have been made to bring Archbishop Milingo back into communion with the Catholic Church, including the consideration of suitable ways to enable him to exercise the Episcopal ministry. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were directly involved in those efforts and both Popes personally followed the case of Archbishop Milingo in a spirit of paternal solicitude.

"In the course of this unhappy series of events, Archbishop Milingo became irregular in 2001 as a result of his attempt to marry Mrs  Maria Sung, and incurred the medicinal penalty of suspension (cf. canons 1044 para. 1, n. 3; 1394 para. 1 of the Code of Canon Law). Thereafter, he headed certain groups calling for the abolition of clerical celibacy and gave numerous interviews to the media in open disobedience to the repeated interventions of the Holy See, creating serious upset and scandal among the faithful. Then, on 24 September 2006 in Washington, Archbishop Milingo ordained four bishops without pontifical mandate.

"By so doing, he incurred the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae' (canon 1382) which was declared by the Holy See on 26 September 2006 and is still in force today. Sadly, Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops. Rather, he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of Holy Church. Specifically, in recent months Archbishop Milingo has proceeded to several other episcopal ordinations.

"The commission of these grave crimes, which has recently been established, is to be considered as proof of the persistent contumacy of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. The Holy See has therefore been obliged to impose upon him the further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.

"According to canon 292 of the Code of Canon Law, the penalty of dismissal from the clerical state, now added to the grave penalty of excommunication, has the following effects: loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire. Consequently, the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organised by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful.

"It must be pointed out that the dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is most extraordinary. The Holy See has felt obliged to act in this way due to the serious consequences for ecclesial communion resulting from repeated episcopal consecrations carried out without pontifical mandate; nevertheless, the Church hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his ways.

"As for those recently ordained by Archbishop Milingo, the Church's discipline in imposing the penalty of excommunication 'latae sententiae' upon those who receive episcopal consecration without pontifical mandate is well-known. While expressing hope for their conversion, the Church reaffirms what was declared on 26 September 2006, namely that she does not recognise these ordinations, nor does she intend to recognise them, or any subsequent ordinations based on them, in the future. Hence the canonical status of the supposed bishops remains as it was prior to the ordination conferred by Archbishop Milingo.

"At this moment, as the Church experiences profound sorrow for the grave acts perpetrated by Archbishop Milingo, she entrusts to the power of prayer the repentance of the guilty party and of all those who - be they priests or lay faithful - have in any way co-operated with him by acting against the unity of Christ's Church".

Source: VIS

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