Vatican Excommunicates Its Former Ambassador to the U.S.

The Vatican said on Friday that it had excommunicated Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the church’s former ambassador to the United States, after finding him guilty of schism for refusing to recognize the authority of Pope Francis and the liberal reforms enacted after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

Archbishop Viganò has emerged as one of the most unbridled conservative critics of Francis, calling him in public statements a “false prophet” and a “servant of Satan,” while embracing right-wing conspiracy theories and lauding former President Donald J. Trump.

In 2018, he wrote a 7,000-word letter calling for the pope to resign, accusing him of covering up sexual abuse by an American cardinal. Earlier, in 2015, he invited a critic of gay rights to greet the pope in Washington, challenging Francis’ message of inclusivity.

Since then, he has adopted anti-vaccine positions, and blamed “deep state” forces in the West for triggering the war in Ukraine and demonizing Russia.

Though excommunicated, Archbishop Viganò will be able to keep his title, but he will not be allowed to celebrate the Mass, receive or administer sacraments, and hold official positions within the church hierarchy.

Archbishop Viganò did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Robert Moynihan, the editor of a magazine on the Vatican that often communicates Archbishop Viganò’s opinions, said the Archbishop had been summoned to appear before the Vatican department in charge of religious discipline on Jun. 28, but he did not come to Rome to do so.

Instead, the archbishop published a statement in which he said that he did not recognize the authority of the tribunal “that claims to judge me, nor of its Prefect, nor of the one who appointed him.”

He also again attacked the liberal changes in the church and accused the pope of committing a “crime against humanity” by promoting vaccines. He also condemned the pope’s “adherence to climate fraud” and Francis’ conception of a church that was “immigrationist, eco-sustainable, and gay-friendly.”

Francis has also punished other outspoken right-wing clergy. Rev. Frank Pavone, an American who led the group Priests for Life, was defrocked in 2022, and Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading figure for Catholic traditionalists who believed Francis was diluting doctrine, was evicted from his subsidized Vatican apartment last year, according to reports.

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