tIn what may be the final act of the long-running Catholic drama centering on Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the Vatican announced today that Milingo has been formally removed from the clerical state – in layman’s terms, defrocked.
tAs today’s Vatican statement noted, such a step is highly unusual for a bishop. The Vatican said it was compelled to act because of Milingo’s “persistent contumacy,” especially his decision to ordain several bishops without papal permission for his “Married Priests Now!” movement, which seeks to promote optional celibacy in the Catholic church.
The last case of a bishop being removed from the clerical state came in 2008, with Fernando Lugo, the president of Paraguay and former Bishop of San Pedro who resigned in 2005 in order to pursue a political career. Lugo had requested laicization in 2006 but the Vatican had consistently refused, relenting only after he won the presidency in April 2008.
tMilingo had been considered excommunicated since 2006 on account of his defiance of church authority.