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  Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and new bride Maria Sung


Prelate who strayed finds a way to the Pope’s door

Foreign staff

ONE of the Catholic church’s most prodigal sons found his way home to the doorstep of the Vatican yesterday.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo scandalised the Catholic world in May when he defected to the sect of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and married a Korean acupuncturist in a mass wedding.

But he arrived unexpectedly at the papal summer residence at Castelgandolfo, southeast of Rome on Monday to demand - and a day later receive - a personal audience with the Pope.

"The meeting was the start of dialogue that one hopes can lead to positive developments," the Vatican said yesterday.

Milingo, wearing a dark suit and open-necked shirt, made no comment when he left the papal villa but tapped his fingers on his lips in silence. Until the last minute, it was unclear if the former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia would be admitted.

Exactly what welcome greeted the 71-year-old prelate is also something of a mystery. Milingo may have wanted to make amends to a Pope who backed his unorthodox prelate despite in the past despite charges of unauthorised faith-healing and exorcism.

But the meeting came just two weeks before an August 20 deadline by which Milingo, to avoid excommunication, has been told in no uncertain terms he must publicly return to the Catholic fold.

Last month, the Vatican spelled out how he must comply with conditions laid down by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He was told to "(a) Leave (wife) Maria Sung; (b) Sever all links with the sect Family Federation for World Peace and Unification; (c) Declare publicly his fidelity to the doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline of celibacy and manifest his obedience to the Supreme Pontiff by a clear and unequivocal act."

Yesterday, however, a spokesman for Moon’s sect said the archbishop had consummated his marriage and intended to start a family.

"He has begun conjugal life," said the Rev. Phillip Schanker.

Milingo had sought the papal audience to explain his reasons for marrying and his belief that priests should be allowed to have families, Mr Schanker said. Excommunication is a total severance from the Church. In modern times it has been rare, particularly for high-ranking prelates.

But last May’s wedding service in New York could not be overlooked. One of 60 performed during the day, it was personally conducted by Moon, who chose Milingo’s bride.

Milingo has worked in Italy since 1983. But in defiance of diocesan bishops, he presided at colourful masses and meetings at which he carried out impromptu exorcisms.

Last September he was quietly stripped of his job in a Vatican department.

In November, the Vatican issued strict new rules on exorcism and faith healing. Milingo was not mentioned by name, but many of the rules seemed to have been drafted expressly with him in mind.


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