The “Community of the Lady of All Nations”, better known as the Army of Mary, has forced Catholic Church authorities to sanction this group which has its headquarters in the Archdiocese of Quebec City.
Following earlier consultations with the Bishops of Canada and also with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a declaration of excommunication that applies to various members of the Army of Mary. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the office of the Holy See responsible for questions regarding faith and morals. Its declaration was made with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI.
Despite repeated warnings by the Bishops of Canada, including Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec City, members of the Army of Mary earlier this year participated in ordinations forbidden by and not recognized by the Catholic Church. The actions obliged the Congregation to issue the declaration, it states, because of “the very grave situation” and given there was no “hope of another solution.”
The list of those members of the Army of Mary incurring excommunication include Father Jean-Pierre Mastropietro, for having attempted to perform ordinations; those claiming to have been ordained by him as deacons and priests; other members of the movement and its associated works who have entered into schism by participating in the ordinations despite an earlier warning issued by Cardinal Ouellet on 26 March 2007, and who remain “determined to continue to associate with” the movement; and “whoever knowingly and deliberately embraces” the heretical teachings of the Army of Mary. The declaration states the excommunications are “latae sententiae”, that is they were incurred automatically.
In a letter issued at the time of its declaration, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith also expressed its hope the situation surrounding the Army of Mary would now be clearer. "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,” the letter states.
The declaration of excommunication follows a lengthy process, including appointments by the Holy See of Pontifical Commissioners for the priests associated with the Army of Mary. Most Reverend Gilles Cazabon, O.M.I., Bishop of Saint-Jérome, Quebec, served in this capacity until 2003 when he was succeeded as Pontifical Commissioner by Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J., recently named Archbishop of Ottawa. In the letter issued with its declaration, the Congregation expressed its appreciation to Archbishop Prendergast for the many efforts taken in an effort to avoid schism.
In 2001, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a doctrinal note confirming that the teachings promoted by the Army of Mary were contrary to the fundamental doctrines of the Catholic Church.
In March 2007, Cardinal Ouellet issued a public warning that those responsible for the Army of Mary had excluded themselves from the communion of the Catholic Church, that its particular teachings were false, and its activities not to be frequented or supported by Catholics.