The Holy See announced on Thursday that the former Archbishop of Lusaka, Emmanuel Milingo, has been dismissed from the clerical state after persistently acting against Church teaching. Milingo had already been suspended and excommunicated latae sententiae for serious transgressions in the last eight years.
The Holy See reported that despite repeated efforts to return the African archbishop to "full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops" his continued neglect for Church doctrine has merited him the "further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state."
The former archbishop has a history of disobeying Church law.
The first of what the Vatican called "this unhappy series of events" took place in 2001 when Milingo tried to marry Mrs. Maria Sung, at which time he was subject to a "medicinal" suspension. He was not deterred as he subsequently pushed for the abolition of the discipline of priestly celibacy by leading groups and giving interviews "in open disobedience to the repeated interventions of the Holy See," reads the Vatican press office's official statement regarding the case.
Then, on Sept. 24, 2006 in Washington, D.C., Milingo ordained four bishops without the required pontifical mandate. Two days later on Sept. 26, he was excommunicated "latae sententiae"—by the very commission of the offense —following the order of the Holy See.
"Sadly," says the Vatican's statemtent, "Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to to full communion" with the Catholic Church. "Rather he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of the Holy Church."
It was recently brought to light, read the statement, that Milingo has once again taken part in the ordination of another round of bishops without the permission of the Apostolic See.
Due to these new "grave crimes" the archbishop is now being penalized with dismissal from the clerical state.
According to Canon Law, due to the combination of penalties, Milingo will now incur the "loss the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except... in those cases involving the danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire."
Therefore, continues the statement, "the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organized by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful."
The Vatican communique explained that the dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is quite exceptional but that it was necessary given the repeated offenses of ordaining new bishops. It also stated clearly that these new bishops were not to be considered valid, nor were any subsequent ordinations based on them. It also underscored the penalty of excommunication for any priests ordained without the pontifical mandate.
The Holy See concluded its statement by expressing the "profound sorrow" of the Church for the unapproved acts of the archbishop, and entrusted "to the power of prayer" the repentance of any other individuals involved in the condemned actions.