Excommunicated Vietnamese archbishop received back into church


VATICAN CITY -- A former archbishop, twice excommunicated for his opposition to Catholic reforms, repented and was received back into the church before he died last week, the Vatican said Monday.

The disclosure came four days after the death of Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc of Hue, a brother of slain South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, in the United States at the age of 87.


The Vatican issued without comment the prelate's request for forgiveness dated July 11 and a statement by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that Pope John Paul II 'deigned benignly to accord him absolution from the censure incurred.'

Thuc, who fled Vietnam following the assassination in 1963 of Diem and a second brother, Police Chief Ngo Dinh Nhu, ran afoul of the Vatican primarily for unlawfully consecrating bishops.

His first excommunication was in December 1975 after he consecrated three Spaniards, an Irishman and an American in Spain to draw attention to reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary at El Palmar de Troya near Seville.

The Spaniards included 'anti-pope' Clemente Dominguez, who after the death of Pope Paul VI in 1978 declared himself Pope Gregory XVII, successor to Paul with his Vatican at El Palmar de Troya.


Thuc repented a short time after the consecrations, and the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith lifted his excommunication Sept. 20, 1976.

But the prelate, an opponent of the reforms of the Second Vatican council, created three more bishops illegally in 1981 and published an attack on John Paul's claim to the papacy in Munich in 1982, leading to his second excommunication in April 1983.

In his declaration, Thuc said he wished 'to publicly retract all my previous errors.'

He specifically cited his 'illegitimately ordaining' the three priests as bishops in 1981 and his 'denial' of the Vatican Council reforms.

'I wish to sincerely ask you all to forgive me, praying for me, and redressing all scandal caused by such regrettable actions and declaration of mine,' he said.

Thuc called on the priests he made bishops in 1981, all other priests they since have ordained and their followers 'to retract their error, leaving actually false status and reconciling' with the church and Pope John Paul II.

In giving him absolution the congregation made clear this does not 'extend to the subjects unlawfully ordained by him.'

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