.- A Vatican official who attended yesterday’s meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the heads of Vatican dicasteries to discuss the case of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and priestly celibacy, told CNA that the future of the rebellious former Archbishop of Lusaka (Zambia) “depends almost exclusively on his own decisions.”
Yesterday evening, after the almost 3 hour long meeting with the Holy Father, the Vatican released a statement confirming the centrality of celibacy in priestly life, but made no reference to the future of Milingo.
“In the Apostolic Palace this morning, November 16, the Holy Father presided at one of the regular meetings of the heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia, for a moment of shared reflection,” the official statement released yesterday said.
"The participants in the meeting had at their disposal detailed information concerning requests for dispensation from the obligation of celibacy presented during recent years, and concerning the possibility of readmission to the exercise of the ministry of priests who currently meet the conditions established by the Church.”
"The value of the choice of priestly celibacy in accordance with Catholic tradition was reaffirmed, and the need for solid human and Christian formation was underlined, both for seminaries and for ordained priests," the official statement concluded.
Asked by CNA what was decided about Archbishop Milingo, the Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, emphasized that the meeting between the Pope and the heads of the Vatican dicasteries “was one of consultation, not an executive one,” and therefore, no immediate policies were established.
“The Holy Father listened carefully to all opinions, and from there it is up to him how and even if he will act upon the recommendations,” the source told CNA.
Nevertheless, the Vatican official recalled that at present Archbishop Milingo has been excommunicated, and that “the only way (for him) to change that condition is to repent, make a public statement of his repentance and make the proportional material and spiritual reparations for the damage and scandal created by his latest decision.”
The official admitted that such reparations would include “changing completely his lifestyle and disappearing from public life altogether,” especially considering that “this is the second time he is a source of a major scandal.”
Asked if he though it was likely to convince Milingo to come back to the Church for a life of penance, considering the level of public exposure he enjoys and also considering he has signed a commercial agreement with “Da Vinci Code’s” Dan Brown to advise him in his next project, the official responded: “the Church works always on the assumption that the human heart can always open itself to God’s grace and come back to God’s path.”