The madness of Milingo

The madness of Milingo

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, as many of you know already, has leapt off his rocker again, returning to the woman he “married” in a Moonie ceremony several years ago and has now hooked up with a anti-celibacy group in the US.

Milingo spoke this past weekend at a conference he organized for laicized married priests agitating against the Church’s discipline. He said that the Vatican has demanded he repent and return, but he has refused.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, reportedly sent Milingo a letter pleading and demanding Milingo repent by no later than October 15 or face canonical suspension.

“Your behavior, activities and public statements during these past few months are completely contrary to the obligation of every bishop,” Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re wrote in a letter to Milingo that the archbishop showed The Associated Press. “In the name of Jesus Christ, I beg you to reflect seriously on your behavior and all its consequences.”

Ed Peters says that the letter is a curious piece of work since, by his actions, Milingo has already incurred a suspension latae sententiae, i.e. automatically. So why the formal letter? Ed has some speculation:

So what is the “threat” in Cdl. Re’s letter? Well, maybe Re is paving the way for a higher penalty such as excommunication to be imposed under Canon 1393 (for those who ignore lesser penalties). Milingo certainly seems to be providing as much provocation as he can for Rome to react sternly. Or maybe (and I admit this is, historically speaking, a long shot) the cardinal’s letter is laying the groundwork for a flat-out dismissal from the clerical state under Canon 1394, the penalty Milingo would likely be facing if he were only a presbyter.

Imagine if an archbishop is dismissed from the clerical state. That would set an interesting precedent. I can imagine certain groups calling for such treatment of other bishops who have committed canonical or civil crimes.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
1 comment
  • It means that for all practical purposes he is a layman. He cannot wear clerical clothing, he cannot present himself as Reverend or Father, he cannot celebrate any sacraments, except those for baptism and/or confession at the moment of death and when no priest is available.

    It also means he is cut off from any financial or other kind of support from the Church. (When a priest is ordained, the Church, in effect, promises to take care of him and provide for his needs in exchange for his self-sacrifice.)

    There may be other, more technical, provisions that I don’t know about.

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