POPE John Paul II met with an archbishop who was
married in one of the Rev Sun Myung Moon's mass weddings and broke
his vow of celibacy.
The Vatican said it was the start of a
dialogue, but its threat to excommunicate the archbishop remains.
The Rev Emmanuel Milingo had his audience with the pope at the
pontiff's summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, in the hills outside
A Vatican statement said it hoped the meeting could "lead to
But the Vatican has already threatened to kick Milingo out of the
church if he doesn't leave his wife by Aug 20, sever ties with
Moon's movement and remain celibate.
Milingo has said he has no plans to do so, and today, a spokesman
said he had consummated his marriage and intended to start a family
with his new wife.
"He has begun conjugal life," said the Rev Phillip Schanker, who
is also a spokesman for Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and
Milingo had sought the papal audience to explain his reasons for
marrying and his belief that priests should be allowed to have
He has said that celibacy has fulfilled its purpose but is now
poisoning the priesthood.
"He has come to understand that all the blessings of God were
meant to be given through the family," Schanker said.
Schanker said the meeting was arranged through private channels
because Milingo's official requests for an audience with the pope
had been met with silence from the Vatican.
Milingo went to Castel Gandolfo at first yesterday evening, met
with Vatican officials, and returned today morning for his audience.
He made no comment to reporters after the meeting.
The 71-year-old archbishop was married May 27 in a group ceremony
at a New York hotel in one of Moon's mass weddings. His bride,
43-year-old Maria Sung, was selected by Moon, as is customary in
After the wedding, Milingo asked to be released from his vow of
celibacy. But Schanker - and Milingo's own official website - said
Milingo consummated the marriage before hearing back from the
Milingo's wife travelled with him to Rome, but was not present in
his meeting with the pope, Schanker said.
Milingo has said he doesn't want to leave the church that he
loves, although he has said it needs to be reformed.
He has long been at odds with the Catholic hierarchy.
He was archbishop of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, when he ran
afoul of the Vatican over his faith healing and exorcisms. He
resigned under pressure in 1983, a very rare occurrence with an
archbishop below normal retirement age and in good health.
Milingo then was brought to Rome as a functionary in the
Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant
Peoples, but continued public healing and exorcism. Last year, he
was quietly retired from that post.