.- The Vatican has excommunicated members of the controversial Community of the Lady of All Nations, better known as the Army of Mary, based in the Archdiocese of Quebec.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the declaration of excommunication on July 11, after extensive consultations with the Canadian bishops and the Vaticans Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Pope Benedict XVI approved the declaration, which was only announced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 12.
Despite repeated warnings by the Canadian bishops, including their local bishop, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, members of the Army of Mary participated in ordinations forbidden by the Catholic Church.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said it was forced to issue the declaration because of the very grave situation and because there was no hope of another solution. The investigation into the Army of Mary has been going on for six years.
Those excommunicated include Fr. Jean-Pierre Mastropietro for having attempted to perform ordinations as well as the six priests and deacons claiming to have been ordained by him.
The declaration noted that other members who participated at the ordinations, despite a warning from the cardinal, and those who continue to associate with the movement have entered into schism with the Church and are also, therefore, excommunicated. The excommunications were incurred automatically.
The declaration concludes by stating: Whoever knowingly and deliberately embraces this doctrine incurs an excommunication latae sententiae due to heresy.
"It is our hope that the clarification provided by this present Declaration will assist those whose faith may be harmed by this schismatic group to remain faithful to the Catholic Church, reads a letter that accompanies the declaration.
The excommunications follow a lengthy process, including appointments by the Holy See of Pontifical Commissioners for the priests associated with the Army of Mary. Bishop Gilles Cazabon, OMI, of Saint-Jérome served in this capacity until 2003. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, of Ottawa succeeded him.
The Canadian bishops had issued a doctrinal note in 2001, confirming that the teachings promoted by the Army of Mary were contrary to the doctrines of the Church. The group has contradicted the Catholic faith by claiming that their founder, 86 year-old Marie-Paule Giguere, is the reincarnation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In March 2007, Cardinal Ouellet issued a warning that those responsible for the Army of Mary had excluded themselves from the Catholic Church, that its particular teachings were false, and its activities were not to be attended or supported by Catholics.