Was Archbishop Viganò’s Excommunication Justified?

By pintswaquinas July 10, 2024

On July 4, 2024, Pope Francis excommunicated Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò for schism. Archbishop Viganò has long been a hero in many Traditionalist circles for his criticism of the pope and openness to the Traditional Latin Mass.

Now even the Society of St. Pius X is distancing itself from the archbishop.

Was Archbishop Viganò’s excommunication justified? Yes. Here’s why.

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What is schism?
We often think schism means that someone has a doctrinal disagreement with the Church. But that’s part of the definition of heresy. Schism is fundamentally a break of charity. Paragraph 2089 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it as “the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

That doesn’t mean one has to agree with the pope’s personal opinions. And one may even charitably seek clarification on the pope’s official actions in a way that doesn’t undermine fidelity and obedience to him.

But one has to maintain communion with the Supreme Pontiff and those subject to him. An example of schismatic behavior is refusing to attend a legitimate Novus Ordo Mass even when it’s your only option because you reject it.

Archbishop Viganò is guilty of schism.
Archbishop Viganò denied the legitimacy of Pope Francis’ pontificate when he said, “I maintain that the errors and heresies to which [Francis] adhered before, during and after his election, along with the intention he held in his apparent acceptance of the papacy, render his elevation to the throne null and void.” That, of course, amounts to a refusal to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

He has also rejected the authority of the Second Vatican Council, something no Catholic can do. At the close of the council, Pope St. Paul VI said, “[The Council] has invested its teachings with the authority of the supreme ordinary magisterium, which ordinary magisterium is so obviously authentic that it must be accepted with docility and sincerity by all the faithful, according to the mind of the Council as expressed in the nature and aims of the individual documents.”

Does Archbishop Viganò have legitimate grievances?
Sure he does! We live in a time of confusion, and many of us are frustrated that the Church hierarchy doesn’t do more to clarify things and defend the faith and tradition.

But this is no excuse to embrace schism. Christ didn’t promise us that the pope would always act in the best manner. He guaranteed that He would guide the Church and preserve the pope from error when he teaches infallibly.

Pope Francis has made many unclear, confusing statements, but none amount to heresy, as Archbishop Viganò claims.

Let us pray for the archbishop, who may truly believe he’s acting for the good of the Church. And let us pray for the pope, that he rises to the challenges of our age in a way that makes the truth of the faith shine with a new splendor throughout the world.

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