Thursday, December 17, 2009

Addio, Milingo

Already excommunicated for his 2006 ordination of four married men as bishops, this morning the Holy See announced the dismissal from the clerical state of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the colorful Zambian who's long vexed the Vatican.

Ordained archbishop of Lusaka by Pope Paul VI in 1969 (in the first such rite using the post-Conciliar liturgy), in 1983 Milingo was called to Rome amid concerns over his Charismatic healing services and given a desk job at the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerants.

Having continued his ministry of song and prayer in Italy, becoming a well-known presence in Italian media in the process, in 2001 the archbishop sparked a storm after fleeing Rome to marry Maria Sung, a Korean acupuncturist, at a New York mass wedding of the Reverend Sun Muyng Moon's Unification church. Weeks later, as Milingo's Moonie marriage became Rome's summer soap opera, he was reconciled following a meeting with John Paul II and renouncing his attempted union.

In summer 2006, Milingo vanished again, this time to resurface with Sung in Washington and announce the founding of "Married Priests Now!," a movement calling for both the overturn of the Latin church's discipline of mandatory celibacy and the reconciliation of men who've resigned the priesthood to marry. Three months later, following his ordination of the four married clerics without papal mandate, the excommunication was levied.

Despite the ultimate sanction, Milingo has continued conferring orders. In early 2008, the prelate released a book, "Confessions of an Excommunicated," formally presenting it in Rome.

Here, the Vatican announcement:
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 § 1, n. 3; 1394 § 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 organized 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 recognize these ordinations, nor does she intend to recognize 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 cooperated with him by acting against the unity of Christ’s Church.
PHOTO: Getty