.- In a statement released by the Holy See Press Office this morning the Holy See announced that “unfortunately” scandalous African Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, along with four men he supposedly ordained bishops Sunday, “have incurred excommunication” - according to the directives of Canon Law.
Milingo, who is married and on a personal campaign to make celibacy optional for Roman Catholic priests, ordained four married men Sunday as Roman Catholic bishops, reported the Associated Press.
Archbishop Milingo installed George Augustus Stallings of Washington, Peter Paul Brennan of New York, Patrick Trujillo of Newark, and Joseph Gouthro of Las Vegas during a ceremony at a Capitol Hill church. The four men claim affiliation to the breakaway Synod of Old Catholic Churches.
The Vatican’s communication says,"For this public act, both Archbishop Milingo and the four ordinands have incurred excommunication 'latae sententiae,' as laid down in Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law.”
The four men have joined Milingo’s Married Priests Now organization, which has announced its intent to change Catholic rules on celibacy by refusing to obey the Church’s teaching or hierarchy.
Stallings, who is a former Catholic priest who broke from the Church in 1989 and declared himself bishop of his own Cathedral in Washington, D.C., told the AP that the men consider themselves validly ordained Roman Catholic Bishops.
However, the Vatican communication notes that “the Church does not recognize, nor does she intend to recognize in the future, these ordinations and all ordinations deriving from them; and she considers the canonical status of the four supposed-bishops as being that they held prior to this ordination.”
Though, by virtue of his episcopal status, Milingo is capable of validly ordaining the men, they are not considered Roman Catholic Bishops due to their schismatic act.
The Holy See noted that it has followed the actions of Milingo, “with great concern.” The new association of married priests, the Vatican said, is “spreading division and confusion among the faithful.”
"Church representatives of various levels have tried in vain to contact Archbishop Milingo in order to dissuade him from persisting in actions that provoke scandal, especially among the faithful who followed his pastoral ministry in favor of the poor and the sick,” the Vatican said.
“The Apostolic See, attentive to the unity and peace of the flock of Christ, had hoped that the fraternal influence of people close to Archbishop Milingo would cause him to rethink and return to full communion with the Pope. Unfortunately the latest developments have made these hopes more unlikely,” the communication lamented.
The Vatican's Congregation for Bishops had reportedly demanded that the 76-year-old archbishop send the Pope a letter of repentance for his previous actions by Oct. 15 or face “canonical suspension.” The suspension would bar Milingo from ordaining priests, leading Mass and performing other sacraments.
The Vatican said Milingo also violated Church law when he established his new organization, Married Priests Now, and when he celebrated Mass with married clergy. He introduced Married Priests Now in July in Washington, D.C., where he currently resides with this wife.
Today’s statement from the Holy See concluded with a call for prayer. "At times of ecclesial suffering such as these, may prayers intensify among all the community of the faithful."