Archbishop who opposed Pope Francis excommunicated from Catholic Church

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(CP) A Roman Catholic archbishop who questioned the legitimacy of Pope Francis and portions of the Second Vatican Council has been excommunicated from the Catholic Church for the canonical crime of schism.

Carlo Maria Viganò, 83, who served as the Vatican's ambassador to the United States from 2011 to 2016, was informed Friday by the Vatican's doctrinal office that it had found him guilty, according to a press release from the Holy See.

"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 of the legitimacy and magisterial authority of the Second Vatican Council are well known," the Vatican said.

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

According to canon law, schism is defined as a "refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."

The decision from the Vatican comes two weeks after the Catholic Church's disciplinary body issued a decree summoning Viganò to an extrajudicial trial in Rome for "the crime of schism."

The archbishop did not appear at his own trial, according to The Washington Post. He had earlier tweeted that he assumed his sentence "has already been prepared, given that it is an extrajudicial process." In a lengthy statement on June 20, the prelate said he considered the charges against him "an honor."

Now that he is excommunicated, he is formally considered to be outside of the Catholic Church and is barred from partaking in Catholic sacraments, including Communion, and is forbidden from ordaining priests or officiating Mass.

Viganò had drawn attention in recent years by calling for the resignation of Pope Francis, whom he refers to using his given name Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

In 2020, Viganò accused a cabal of leaders within the Catholic Church of permitting "heresy, sodomy and corruption" to run amok in the institution. In a letter to then-President Donald Trump, he claimed there was a "deep church" that was enabling evil. He described a group as "mercenary infidels who seek to scatter the flock and hand the sheep over to be devoured by ravenous wolves."

Viganò also penned a letter in 2018 that alleged dozens of former and current high-level Catholic officials covered up accusations of sexual abuse against disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, according to the National Catholic Register.

Viganò took special aim at the pope, accusing him of ignoring his predecessor's sanctions against McCarrick and urging him to resign to "set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick's abuses."

Weeks before his schism charge, Viganò alleged on May 29 that Francis had committed the "same abuses" as McCarrick while serving as a bishop in Argentina, though he offered no evidence.

"Bergoglio does not want to oust homosexual seminarians and priests: he rather wants to complete the work of infiltration and corruption of the Clergy through homosexuality and pedophilia, so that by declassifying the serious sinfulness of sodomy and corruption of minors the door opens on the civil front to decriminalization of these crimes," Viganò said at the time.

Viganò was relatively muted in his response to his excommunication on social media, though he retweeted figures such as Gen. Michael Flynn, who accused the pope of hurling the Catholic Church into a state of schism.

"The church under this dark Pope is in a state of Schism," Flynn tweeted. "Church leaders and the laity world wide, especially in America, need to wake up. When someone of [Viganò's] stature is excommunicated, we Catholics are in serious trouble. Like many other globalist institutions, the Church of Rome under Bergoglio is out of touch with the sentiment of their ekklesia."

"I say to my brothers: 'If you are silent, the stones will cry out,'" Viganò also tweeted, citing Luke 19:40.

© The Christian Post