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Archbishop Milingo's marital mystery
|Thursday, 9 August 2001 18:59
Archbishop Milingo's marital mystery By UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI religion correspondent WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Mystery surrounded Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo Thursday as he prepared for a possible second meeting with Pope John Paul II. After a four-day separation, his wife is reportedly on her way to join him in the Italian capital, Rome. The African prelate is currently out of contact with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon who wedded him to South Korean acupuncturist Maria Sung in May, according to Moon's spokesman Phillip Schanker. "The archbishop is staying in a villa outside Rome where he cannot be reached," the Rev. Schanker continued. "His wife is coming down from Milan. If she does not hear from her husband by Friday she is going to give a press conference." Two weeks before his threatened excommunication, Milingo, a former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, had met with the pope on Aug. 7 at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Following this encounter, the threat of excommunication was suspended, according to a Vatican announcement. Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican's press office, called the meeting "the beginning of a dialogue that one hopes will be able to lead to positive developments." Maurizio Bisantis, an Italian Milingo supporter, who helped arrange the meeting, told Catholic News Service that the archbishop spent 45 minutes alone with the pontiff. They were then joined for another hour by other prelates, including Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith. It was Ratzinger who had issued an ultimatum to Milingo threatening him with the severest form of excommunication if he did not end his "asserted matrimonial union" with Maria Sung and his association with Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and Unification by Aug. 20. "We understand that prior to the meeting, Ratzinger sent the Holy Father a private letter listing the archbishop's alleged previous wrongdoings," the Rev. Schanker told United Press International. UPI however was unable to verify this claim. Milingo had been in trouble with the Vatican over unauthorized exorcism and faith healing rites. Quoting Vatican sources, KNA, a German Catholic wire service, reported Thursday that the Holy See had begun a "process of clarification that could be of long duration because complicated theological issues will have to be discussed." KNA suggested as one solution that the Roman Catholic Church consecrate Milingo's marriage. "But this would presuppose that he be formally relieved of his status as a cleric," the agency stated. According to several canonical lawyers, this frequently happens in the case of ordinary priests. However, "it is the practice of the Holy See never to release bishops from their ordination vows," declared Father John Beal, who teaches canon law at Washington's Catholic University. Milingo told a Rome news conference on Wednesday, "this time I am no longer single and I must consider another person, my wife, and her human rights. Also my wife must understand the church's reasons." The Rev. Shanker, spokesman for Moon's Family Federation for world Peace and Unification, said, "The Rev. Moon believes that Archbishop Milingo has a mission to the Roman Catholic Church." Schanker suggested that because of this, Moon could live with an arrangement by which Milingo stayed with his wife but severed all links with his organization. According to Schanker, Milingo had breakfast with Moon on Sunday. "I then drove him and his wife to the airport. They flew to Barcelona, Spain, and then on to Milan, Italy, where they parted," said Schanker. "They have only spoken once by telephone since." Shanker said that Milingo continued to Castel Gandolfo, while Maria Sung remained in Milan with acquaintances. In Castel Gandolfo, Milingo showed up unannounced at the papal summer residence, Catholic News Service reported, although Schanker said that a "private encounter" had been arranged by the painter Alba Vitala. According to the CNS report, Milango was met by Bishop Stanlislaw Dziwisz, the Pope's personal secretary. At that point, John Paul II met Milingo briefly to "greet him and ask him to pray" before the audience on the following day. Sources in Rome told UPI Thursday the Vatican was "most concerned" about the possibility that Milingo might "illicitly though validly" ordain priest for a schismatic church linked to Moon. "That's why there is a chance that if the archbishop agreed not to do that the Holy Father might show some flexibility," a Vatican insider suggested. UPI is owned by News World Communications Inc., a media company founded by Moon. -- Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved. --
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