Confirmed: It's A Split
Whispers has received definitive confirmation that, at yesterday's ceremony at Washington's Imani Temple (home of the breakaway African-American Catholic Congregation), Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo ordained four prelates of the Old Catholic church to the indisputably valid Roman episcopate, passing to them his lineage and, with it, the episcopal lineage of Pope Paul VI, who ordained Milingo as archbishop of Lusaka in 1969. An Associated Press story yesterday had caused confusion by referring to the ceremony as an "installation," particularly as the ordinands had previously claimed episcopal orders through other channels.
While the Holy See last week raised the specter of "canonical suspension" on the renegade Zambian prelate with a deadline of 15 October, yesterday's action places Milingo under an automatic latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Holy See under the provisions of canon 1382. In the west, the break is comparable only to the events of June 1988, when the traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops of his own, incurring the excommunication of all involved and creating the great schism of the 20th century.
Milingo and his four prelates -- the "Council of Bishops" of the "Married Priests Now!" movement -- are meeting today in Washington to discuss the division of their responsibilities.
Expect a statement from the Holy See quickly.