By Hilary White
ROME, December 18, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Already excommunicated for ordaining four married men as bishops in 2006, the former head of the diocese of Lusaka, Zambia, Emmanuel Milingo, 79, now has been formally removed from the clerical state, an announcement from the Vatican said yesterday.
The Vatican said that Milingo's various acts of disobedience and defiance had caused "serious upset and scandal among the faithful."
"Sadly, Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops," said the statement.
"Rather, he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of Holy Church." These include the consecration as a bishop of Daniel Kasomo, another married man, in Nairobi, in June this year.
The "defrocking" means that the former Archbishop Milingo may not exercise "any ministry ... loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire."
"Consequently, the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organized by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful," the statement said.
This final chapter of the strange career of the now-Mr. Milingo follows his very public attempt in 2001 to contract a marriage with a Korean woman - "blessed" by cult leader Sun Myung Moon - without a dispensation from his priestly state.
In September 2006, Milingo staged a ceremony at the Imani Temple in Washington, home of a schismatic sect of former African-American Catholics, in which he ordained four men as Catholic bishops without a papal mandate, an act that incurs an automatic penalty of excommunication. The four were members of the Old Catholic Church, a sect of German origin that broke communion with the Catholic Church in the 1870s, and all were married.
According to the Catholic Church, ordination to the priesthood and the episcopate confers an irremovable "ontological" change like that conferred by baptism and which cannot be removed. It gives the bearer the power, though not necessarily the permission, to confect sacraments.
The reduction of a priest, or more rarely, a bishop to the lay state means that even if excommunicated, he is still able validly to perform ordinations to the priesthood and episcopate, though these would be regarded as illicit by the Church. Such illicit ordinations and episcopal consecrations have been a headache for Vatican officials since a number of rogue bishops broke with the Holy See in protest to changes in the Church following the Second Vatican Council.
Milingo has established a group called Married Priests Now which he calls a "personal prelature" and maintains a website that carries statements promoting the ordination of married clergy and calling on the Church to abolish the requirement of celibacy for priests.
He has been creating headlines, and problems for the Catholic Church, since 1983 when he was asked to step down as archbishop of Lusaka for his performance of exorcisms and faith healing practices at massive outdoor rallies.