Vatican Excommunicates Archbishop Vigano

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a sharp critic of Pope Francis, has been excommunicated by the Vatican for the grave crime of schism, igniting debates within the Catholic Church.

Published July 06, 2024 - 00:07am

4 minutes read
Holy See (Vatican City State)
Vatican City State
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The Vatican has officially excommunicated its former ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, for schism, marking a rare and significant disciplinary action. The Vatican's doctrinal office found Vigano guilty after a meeting of its members, leading to his formal exclusion from the church on charges of schism, which is deemed one of the gravest crimes in canon law.

Schism occurs when an individual withdraws submission to the pope or rejects communion with the members of the church subject to him. The Vatican cited Vigano's refusal to recognize and submit to Pope Francis, his denial of the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council, and his rejection of communion with the church as grounds for the excommunication. Schism is particularly dangerous because it threatens the unity of the church, and Vigano's actions had led to significant discord among believers.

Vigano, known for his conservative stance and vocal criticism of Pope Francis, first gained public attention in 2012 during the Vatileaks scandal, where private papal documents were leaked, exposing corruption within the Vatican. His career in the Vatican took a turn when he was transferred to the United States, distancing him from Rome shortly after the scandal.

During Pope Francis' 2015 visit to the U.S., Vigano facilitated an encounter between the pope and Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This move sparked controversy, as Davis claimed the meeting signaled support for her cause, a claim the Vatican later contested by releasing footage showing the pope's private audience with a gay couple in Washington, D.C.

In 2018, Vigano further incited controversy by accusing Pope Francis and other Vatican officials of covering up sexual misconduct by American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He published an 11-page letter demanding the pontiff's resignation, leading to significant turmoil within the church. The Vatican's subsequent investigation largely absolved Pope Francis but found that numerous officials, including Vigano, had mishandled the McCarrick case.

Vigano's criticism of Pope Francis grew more intense over time, with the former archbishop endorsing various conspiracy theories and participating in far-right rallies. His claims eventually included calling Pope Francis a heretic and accusing him of being a 'servant of Satan,' statements which only broadened the schism between him and the Vatican.

The Vatican's decision to excommunicate Vigano underscores the severity with which it views his actions. Vigano himself regarded the excommunication as an honor, maintaining his defiant stance. This disciplinary action has sparked considerable debate, highlighting the ongoing tensions within the Catholic Church between traditionalist factions and the current papal administration.

Commentators from various perspectives have weighed in on the situation. Right-leaning sources emphasize the disruption Vigano caused within the church, while left-leaning commentators focus on the former archbishop's alignment with far-right ideologies and his attacks on Pope Francis for adopting a more inclusive and progressive stance.

Notably, Rebecca Hamilton from Patheos described Vigano as a tool of right-wing billionaires and international fascism, accusing him of aligning with those who seek to discredit Pope Francis for his advocacy for the poor and environmental issues. Hamilton also recalled how high-profile conservative figures, like Rush Limbaugh, criticized Pope Francis early in his papacy, labeling him a 'communist' for his focus on social justice.

The excommunication of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is a momentous event, reflecting broader ideological battles within the Catholic Church. It not only highlights the Vatican's efforts to maintain unity but also underscores the tensions between conservatism and progressivism that continue to shape the church's direction in the modern era.

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