ROME – A Vatican decree published on social media by Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former nuncio to the United States who has accused Pope Francis of abuse coverup, states that he has been accused of schism.

In a decree dated June 11, 2024, the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) ordered Viganò, who served as apostolic nuncio to the United States from 2011-2016, to present himself at the DDF offices at 3:30p.m. on Thursday, June 20, to answer to charges of schism. The decree was signed by Monsignor John Kennedy, secretary of the DDF’s disciplinary section.

The decree, published on social media by Viganò himself and broadly reported in international media, said he was summoned “so that he may take note of the accusations and evidence regarding the crime of schism of which he has been accused.”

These charges, according to the decree, are based on “public statements which show the denial of the elements necessary to maintain communion with the Catholic Church: denial of the legitimacy of Pope Francis, breaking communion with him, and rejection of the Second Vatican Council.”

Viganò, who according to Vatican sources did not show up for his June 20 summons, was also advised of his right to be represented by legal counsel in his defense, and that if he did not select a lawyer, one would be appointed for him.

In his response to the charge of schism posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Viganò included a copy of the decree and said he regards the accusations against him “as an honor.”

“I believe that the very wording of the charges confirms the thesis that I have repeatedly defended in my various addresses,” he said, saying, “it is no coincidence that the accusation against me concerns the questioning of the legitimacy of Jorge Mario Bergoglio and the rejection of Vatican II.”

The Second Vatican Council, he said, “represents the ideological, theological, moral, and liturgical cancer of which the Bergoglian ‘synodal church’ is the necessary metastasis.”

Viganò did not specify whether a lawyer had represented him at the DDF on June 20, but voiced his belief that the sentence against him “has already been prepared,” given that his is an extrajudicial process, meaning it is an administrative procedure, as opposed to a canonical trial.

A longtime official at the Vatican, Viganò first shot to global notoriety during the August 2018 World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

On the last day of the pope’s visit, carefully choreographed to navigate enduring suspicion of the Catholic Church related to the country’s clerical abuse scandals, Viganò published an 11-page “testimony” in which he accused Pope Francis of covering up for former cardinal and priest, Theodore McCarrick, who was charged with sexually abusing minors and the sexual harassment of adult seminarians.

Viganò in the letter called on Pope Francis to resign, claiming Francis knew about allegations against McCarrick yet eased restrictions on his ministry and travel, and he also alleged a broad homosexual culture inside of the Vatican.

Since then, he has consistently published open letters questioning Pope Francis for alleged doctrinal heresies and abuses of authority. He has also rejected many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and was critical of the pope’s decision to restrict the Traditional Latin Mass.

Prior to his appointment to the United States, Viganò caused waves in Rome when, while serving as the secretary, or number two official, in the Government of the Vatican City State, he attempted to expose alleged overspending and mismanagement, and earned a reputation as a whistleblower.

On the other hand, he was also seen by many Vatican insiders as a prickly personality who could be difficult to work with.

Speaking to journalists on the margins of an event celebrating Cardinal Celso Costantini, a key figure in the development of the church in China, Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Viganò has “assumed some attitudes to which he must respond.”

“It is normal that the Doctrine of the Faith has taken control of the situation and is carrying out those investigations which are necessary to to delve into this situation,” he said, noting that Vigano was also given the opportunity to defend himself.

Parolin said he was “very sorry” about the turn of events, saying of Viganò, “I always appreciated him as a great worker very faithful to the Holy See, in a certain sense also an example; when he was apostolic nuncio he worked extremely well, I don’t know what happened.”

Follow Elise Ann Allen on X: @eliseannallen