Pope Excommunicates Trump-Loving Ultra-Conservative

Gregory A. Shemitz/Reuters
Gregory A. Shemitz/Reuters

The Vatican on Friday informed a Donald Trump-supporting archbishop that he is being excommunicated for refusing to recognize Pope Francis' authority after years of outspoken public attacks.

Carlo Maria Vigano, an ultra-conservative who served as the Vatican’s diplomat to Washington, D.C. between 2011 and 2016, was formally accused last month of schism, which is one of the most serious offenses in canon law. Schism is “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him,” according to the Vatican.

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“His public statements manifesting his refusal to recognize and submit to the Supreme Pontiff, his rejection of communion with the members of the Church subject to him, and of the legitimacy and magisterial authority of the Second Vatican Council are well known,” the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith said in a press release confirming that Vigano was found guilty and excommunicated.

Vigano said in a lengthy statement last month that he considered it “an honor” to be accused. “On the day on which I was supposed to present myself to defend myself before the Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith, I have decided to make public this declaration of mine, to which I add a denunciation of my accusers, their ‘council,’ and their ‘pope,’” he wrote. He also attacked Francis’ church for being “inclusive, immigrationist, eco-sustainable, and gay-friendly.”

Expelling the cardinal is likely to increase tensions between Francis and conservative American Catholics, a group he as described as having “a very, strong, organized, reactionary attitude,” and whom he accused in 2023 of replacing faith with “ideologies.”

Vigano has been increasingly hostile to Francis since making the explosive allegation in 2018 that the pope had known for years about claims of sexual misconduct against U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but had “continued to cover” for him. Vigano called for Francis to resign, later accusing the pope of being a “servant of Satan.”

Pope Francis has faced a string of public attacks from Vigano.

Pope Francis has faced a string of public attacks from Vigano.

Stefano Costantino/SOPA Images via Getty Images

Francis authorized an investigation into what was known about McCarrick’s behavior, with a report released in 2020 finding that many church officials including, Pope John Paul II, had been aware of the allegations against him. The report was also critical of Vigano for failing to look into new allegations against McCarrick and not enforcing Vatican restrictions on him when ordered to do so, according to the Associated Press.

Vigano thereafter made increasingly baroque attacks on Francis while also drifting into conspiracy theories, backing bogus claims about COVID vaccines and making proclamations about the evils of the “deep state.” This week, he shared an X post from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in which the MAGA congresswoman asserted: “The Covid vaccines are killing people.”

He’s also won the praise of Donald Trump. In 2020, Vigano wrote a letter to the then-president in which he linked COVID restrictions and Black Lives Matter protests as the work of “the children of darkness.” “It is quite clear that the use of street protests is instrumental to the purposes of those who would like to see someone elected in the upcoming presidential elections who embodies the goals of the deep state,” Vigano wrote.

“So honored by Archbishop Vigano’s incredible letter to me,” Trump wrote in a tweet sharing a link to the crazed prose. “I hope everyone, religious or not, reads it!”

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