Vatican Excommunicates Former Ambassador to U.S.

The Vatican said on Friday 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 he implemented after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

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

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

Since then, he has adopted an anti-vaccine stance and accused “deep state” forces in the West of waging war in Ukraine and demonizing Russia.

Although excommunicated, Archbishop Viganò will be able to retain his title, but he will not be allowed to celebrate Mass, receive or administer the sacraments, or hold official positions within the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Archbishop Viganò did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Robert Moynihan, editor of a Vatican magazine that frequently shares Archbishop Viganò’s views, said the archbishop had been summoned to appear before the Vatican department responsible for religious discipline on June 28 but had not come to Rome to do so.

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

He also again attacked 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' vision of a church that was “immigration-friendly, eco-friendly and gay-friendly.”

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

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