Catholic Archbishop Jan Lenga, the former head of the Diocese of Karaganda, Khazakhstan and now retired in Poland, was ordered to stop delivering sermons and speaking with the media because of his frequent statements that Pope Francis is a "heretic" spreading "untruths and sins" and "leading the world astray."
Archbishop Lenga has rejected the order to be silent, issued this month by Polish Bishop Wieslaw Mering, because no one in the Polish church apparently has the authority to silence him, reported Crux.com.
Lenga belongs to a religious order, the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception, and is living as a guest of the order in Lichen, Poland. He reportedly is only subject to an order from the Pope.
“Christ gave me authority through the church to proclaim the truth, and I’ll do so as long as I live,” said Lenga, 69, as reported by Crux.com. “I won’t yield to degradation by those whose own statements and actions are entangled with heresy and sectarianism."
“What right do they have to recall what pertains to the church when they themselves have never upheld it?” he said.
In a Feb. 25 interview with Gloria TV, Archbishop Lenga said his critics should “form their own church, rather than usurping power in the Catholic Church.”
Archbishop Lenga has "co-signed several letters urging Pope Francis to clarify marriage and family teachings after the pope’s 2016 encyclical 'Amoris Laetitia,'" reported Crux.com. "He also signed a May 2019 'Declaration of Truths' alongside U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke."
Cardinal Burke is a member of the highest court at the Vatican and the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Other church leaders who signed the declaration were Cardinal Janis Pujats, archbishop emeritus of Riga, Tomash Peta, archbishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, and Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Khazakhstan.
In a book-length interview on YouTube, Archbishop Lenga said he still recognizes Benedict XVI as the Pope; Benedict resigned in February 2013, the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years. Lenga also stated he does not include the name of the "usurper and heretic" Francis in his Mass prayer intentions.
"Bergoglio [Pope Francis] has not confirmed himself in the faith and is not passing that faith to others, he is leading the world astray," said Archbishop Lenga, as reported in The Tablet. "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," said the archbishop.
In a Jan. 20 interview on Polish television, according to Crux.com, Archbishop Lenga "said 'many bishops and cardinals' lacked a 'deep faith' and had adopted 'an attitude of betrayal and destruction' by seeking to 'correct Christ’s teaching,' adding that current confusion in the church indicated 'the Antichrist is here.'"
Bishop Mering, who has ordered Archbishop Lenga to stop talking to the media, said he would leave the "final decision" on this controversy with the Pope.
“I’m acting in the name of the church, which has a hierarchical structure -- we cannot tolerate a situation in which this archbishop omits the Holy Father’s name from the canon of the Holy Mass,” said Bishop Mering, as reported by Crux.com.
“My request that he stop speaking to the media is to prevent an evil sensation," he added. "Some will praise the archbishop, while others will be scandalized by the divisions he’s initiated.”