Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Sunday, September 07, 2008

Honk if You've Had It with Milingo

In 2006 Abp. Emmanuel Milingo was excommunicated for illicitly ordaining married men to the episcopate. Now, Abp. Milingo is traipsing through his native Zambia trying to get Catholic priests to agitate for an end to priestly celibacy in the Roman Church (Catholic World Report, Aug-Sep 2008, p. 15). The excommunicated archbishop assures clergy not to worry about ecclesiastical repercussions because "excommunication does not exist."

Folks, I've had it with Abp. Milingo's incessant eye-pokes against priestly celibacy. If you have, too, read on.

Fernando Lugo's recent departure from the ranks of the clergy with ecclesiastical permission (per 1983 CIC 290) answers an open question, namely, whether Rome would actually dismiss a bishop from the clerical state if he were bent on violating certain ecclesiastical laws.* With the Lugo case having demonstrated Roman willingness to protect the clerical state against episcopal exploitation, it's time to move against Abp. Milingo. Here's how.

Abp. Milingo's excommunication for illegal ordinations got the headlines, but before that, he faced "suspension" for attempting civil marriage; for the last two years, it appears that the unrepentant archbishop has lived in daily violation of Canon 1394.1. The prelate's protracted contempt for the prohibition against priests (let alone bishops!) attempting marriage leaves him liable not only to the penalty of suspension, but to dismissal from the clerical state. Support for imposing this stiffer penalty on Milingo builds when one recalls that Canon 1326.1.1 allows judges to punish more gravely those who, after a lesser penalty was imposed, demonstrate their "obstinate ill will" (see also 1983 CIC 1393). If Abp. Milingo is not a man of obstinate ill will, who is?

I could cite several other penal norms against the archbishop, but we don't really need them. What we need is for Rome to step in and protect the faithful from the neuralgic scandal of this obviously recalcitrant, civilly married and suspended, and later excommunicated, bishop by dismissing him, once and for all, from the ranks of the clergy.

I'd be happy to help with the paperwork. + + +

* A few historical examples of episcopal expulsions from the ranks of clergy have been suggested: Cesare Cdl. Borgia in 1498 (nope, Borgia was only a deacon); Charles Maurice de Talleyrand in the early 1800s (possibly, but the case would pre-date codified canon law by a century); and auxiliary bishop James Shannon in 1968 (maybe, but the available documentation on his status is inconclusive). Doesn't matter: Lugo's case, arising cleanly under the 1983 Code, makes the search for older precedents irrelevant.