A bishop who called Pope Francis the antichrist is defying a Polish Church order to stay silent.

– Banned from saying Mass to “halt the spread of scandal”

The former Archbishop of Karaganda in Kazakhstan, Jan Lenga, was banned until further notice by Wloclawek Bishop Wieslaw Mering from giving sermons and saying public Masses.

That was for criticising the reigning pontiff and refusing to include him in his prayers.

“Canon Law empowers the local diocesan bishop to take disciplinary steps which might halt the spread of scandal among the faithful”, Wloclawek chancellor Fr. Artur Niemira explained to Poland’s Catholic Information Agency KAI of the restrictions imposed on Lenga.

Though he was born in what is now the Ukraine and served in Kazakhstan until retiring in 2011, Lenga now lives in Poland in a house belonging to his Marian Order, by arrangement with the Vatican.

“Archbishop Lenga is to refrain from delivering sermons and publicly conducting the liturgy. This same ban also applies to contacts with the media”, Niemira stated.

The spokesman added that the restrictions on Lenga will remain in place until further punishments are decided upon by the Vatican.

For his part, however, Lenga took to WRealu24.tv February 22 to insist that “Christ gave me the authority through the Church to proclaim the Truth, and I will do this until I die”.

Lenga warned Bishop Mering that no restriction by him or the Vatican would silence him, and made the most of his media appearance to call again on Pope Francis and other “poor bishops” to repent.

– Polish Church had regretted last month that bishop “misleads the faithful”

Novena reported January 22 that the Polish Bishops were already taking steps then to silence Lenga.

At that time, Polish Bishops’ Conference spokesman Paweł Rytel-Andrianik issued a statement distancing the Polish Church from the views of the controversial prelate.

“Archbishop Lenga has never been and is not a member of the Polish Episcopal Conference”, declared Rytel-Andrianik.

The spokesman said that for that reason Lenga’s views “cannot be identified in any way with the Polish Episcopal Conference… They cannot be treated as the positions of the Polish Bishops”.

“Archbishop Lenga does not represent the Catholic Church in Poland”, Rytel-Andrianik insisted, adding that “it is regrettable that Archbishop Lenga appears in the media and misleads the faithful”.

– Support for Sarah and Viganò, criticism of “heretic” Bergoglio

Rytel-Andrianik was reacting in January to another appearance by Lenga in Polish media that caused outrage and bewilderment even among the ranks of Poland’s ultraconservative hierarchy.

In a talk show on Polish state television, Lenga praised the merits of the Latin Mass and applauded Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sarah’s interference in the debate on compulsory priestly celibacy.

If only Benedict had spoken up earlier, the opening to optional celibacy at the Amazon Synod could have been avoided, Lenga said.

The prelate added that without compulsory celibacy, the Church would become an “ordinary earthly party and human organisation”, without a trace of the divine.

Lenga also voiced support for self-proclaimed Vatican ‘whistleblower‘ Carlo Maria Viganò – infamous for accusing Pope Francis of covering up the sex abuse of now ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

He also attacked German Bishops’ President Cardinal Reinhard Marx, whose Church, Lenga said, has “nothing to do” with the Catholic Church.

On YouTube and in a book published in Poland in 2018, Lenga admitted he still recognised Benedict XVI as Pope and accused “heretic” Francis of preaching falsehood and sin in the place of 2,000 years of Church traditions.

“Bergoglio has not confirmed himself in the faith and is not passing that faith to others, he is leading the world astray”, Lenga thundered in the video, still circulating on social media.

“He proclaims untruths and sins, not the tradition which has endured for 2000 years… He proclaims the truth of this world, which is precisely the truth the devil”.

In May 2019, Lenga also signed his name along with a small number of other ultraconservative cardinals and bishops including US cardinal Raymond Burke to a “declaration of truths” reaffirming 40 key Church doctrines in the face of the “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation” that the co-signers said had taken hold under Francis’ pontificate.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.