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Archbishop Milingo's marital mystery

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Affiliate Info
Thursday, 9 August 2001 18:59 (ET)

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

 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

 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

 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.

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Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
All rights reserved.

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