Rome’s Doctrine Watchdog Charges Pope Francis’ Chief Critic, Archbishop Viganò, with Schism

Former Inquisition condemns Vatican whistleblower for rejecting Vatican II and denying Francis’s papal legitimacy.

By Jules Gomes Published on June 24, 2024

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal ambassador to the U.S., is facing excommunication and defrocking after the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog authority (led by the controversial Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández) charged the high-profile whistleblower with the canonical crime of schism.

Vigano was summoned to Rome Thursday to face an “extrajudicial penal trial” to answer charges at the Palace of the Dicastery of the Faith.

The summons accuses the outspoken prelate of making “public statements which result in a denial of the elements necessary to maintain communion with the Catholic Church,” considered in canon law as “schism” and defined by Canon 751 as the “refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

The notice, a copy of which was sent to The Stream, also accused Viganò of denying “the legitimacy of Pope Francis, rupture of communion with Him, and rejection of the Second Vatican Council.”

“I regard the accusations against me as an honor,” Viganò told The Stream in a statement. “I believe that the very wording of the charges confirms the theses that I have repeatedly defended in my various addresses.”

“Theological, Moral, and Liturgical Cancer”

The archbishop is being subjected to a fast-track disciplinary procedure that is used when the evidence gathered during a formal preliminary investigation is sufficiently clear, thus obviating the need for a full canonical trial.

The summons informs Viganò that he has the right to appoint an advocate or procurator who will defend him and can demand to see the evidence against him. The legal procedure, however, omits several rounds of formal arguments and rebuttals in the case of the expedited trial.

“I assume that the sentence has already been prepared, given that it is an extrajudicial process,” Viganò stated in his response to the DDF’s charges, blasting the Second Vatican Council as representing “the ideological, theological, moral, and liturgical cancer of which the Bergoglian ‘synodal church’ is the necessary metastasis.”

Doubling down on his repeatedly stated claim that the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Francis is a “counterfeit,” the archbishop said he “repudiate(s) the neomodernist errors inherent in the Second Vatican Council and in the so-called ‘post-conciliar magisterium,’ in particular in matters of collegiality, ecumenism, religious freedom, the secularity of the State, and the liturgy.”

Venerating Idols and Allying with Communist China

In his response, the archbishop, who has repeatedly called on Francis to resign, issued a lengthy series of charges (read it here) against the pontiff, accusing him of promoting lawless immigration, the LGBTQ+ ideology, the green agenda, and the globalism of the World Economic Forum.

Viganò also accused Francis of covering up and promoting senior officials mired in sexual scandals, venerating the Andean mother earth goddess Pachamama, mandating the use of the abortion-tainted COVID-19 experimental gene therapy, and complicity with the anti-Christian Communist Chinese regime. Most recently, Viganò circulated the claim that Pope Francis himself had sexually harassed seminarians in Argentina. Critics have speculated that this charge accelerated the prosecution of Viganò.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

“As the time approaches when I will have to give an account to the Son of God of all my actions, I intend to persevere in the bonum certamen and not to fail in the witness of faith which is required of each one who, as Bishop, has been endowed with the fullness of the priesthood and constituted Successor of the Apostles,” the 83-year-old prelate emphasized.

Comparing himself to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of St. Pius X (SSPX) — a traditionalist movement with tenuous links to the papacy — Viganò noted that “fifty years ago, in that same Palace of the Holy Office” Lefebvre “was summoned and accused of schism for rejecting Vatican II.”

“His defense is mine; his words are mine; and his arguments are mine — arguments before which the Roman authorities could not condemn him for heresy, having to wait instead for him to consecrate bishops so as to have the pretext of declaring him schismatic and then revoking his excommunication when he was already dead,” he said.

Archbishop Refuses to Attend Vatican Hearing 

On June 21, the archbishop sent an update to The Stream, clarifying that he had not presented himself in person to the DDF for the hearing as reported by some leftwing Catholic media outlets. “I have no intention of going to the Holy Office on June 28, and that I have not delivered any statement or document in my defense to the Dicastery, whose authority I do not recognize, nor do I recognize the authority of its Prefect, nor do I recognize the authority of the one who appointed him,” Viganò stated.

He elaborated: “I have no intention of submitting myself to a show trial in which those who are supposed to judge me impartially in order to defend Catholic orthodoxy are at the same time those whom I accuse of heresy, treason, and abuse of power. And among them are precisely the Jesuits, the first proponents of all the moral and doctrinal deviations of the last sixty years, starting with James Martin, S.J., the LGBTQ+ activist who is a regular visitor at Santa Marta.”

The Papacy vs. The Faith?

In January, several traditionalist blogs as well as the news portal of the German Episcopal Conference reported that Viganò had been conditionally reconsecrated as a bishop in 2023 by the English bishop Richard Williamson, who was expelled from the SSPX.

Williamson, one of the four bishops LeFebvre ordained against the wishes of Rome, is a well-known antisemite and holocaust denier who was fined 12,000 euro ($16,870) by a district court in the southern German city of Regensburg in 2010.

Viganò’s repudiation of Vatican II constitutes a serious challenge to the authority of the Roman magisterium and its claim to unchanging continuity, since Catholic ecclesiology holds that an ecumenical council held in union with the pope is infallible, a tenet rigorously argued by St. Robert Bellarmine in the sixteenth-century book Disputationes de controversiis Christianae fidei adversus huius temporis haereticos.

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The Catholic Church accepts 21 ecumenical or general councils beginning with Nicaea I (314-335) and culminating in Vatican II (1962–1965).

The crime of schism in Catholic canon law triggers a latae sententiae (incurred automatically) excommunication, to which other penalties can be added, including removal from ecclesiastical office and prohibition on the exercise of ministry.

If the accused does not repent, is judged to be obstinate in his crime, or “the gravity of scandal demands it,” he may be defrocked as a perpetual penalty.

Archbishop Viganò was appointed as apostolic nuncio to the USA by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 19, 2011, the memorial feast of the first North American Martyrs.


Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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