-- (AP) -- The Vatican said Wednesday that it has suspended its
threat to excommunicate a Zambian archbishop who was married in a
mass wedding conducted by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
The announcement came a day after the Rev. Emmanuel
Milingo had an audience with Pope John Paul II in what the Vatican
said was the start of a dialogue it hoped could ``lead to positive
Milingo said Wednesday the pontiff asked him to think about what
he had done.
``I must reflect,'' Milingo told a news conference. ``I must
examine my conscience.''
But he stressed that any decision on how to proceed was not his
alone to make.
``By this time, I am no longer single and I must consider another
person -- my wife -- and her human rights,'' he said. ``Also my wife
must understand the church's reasons.''
The Vatican had 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.
A Vatican official briefing reporters said no new deadline was
set and it will likely take some time to resolve the case. A second
meeting between the pope and Milingo was scheduled for Friday.
Milingo had sought to explain to the pope his reasons for
marrying and his belief that priests should be allowed to have
families. He has said that celibacy has fulfilled its purpose but is
now poisoning the priesthood.
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 the Rev. Phillip Schanker of Moon's Family Federation
for World Peace and Unification -- and Milingo's own official
website -- said Milingo consummated the marriage before hearing from
Milingo dodged reporters' questions Wednesday about whether his
marriage was actually legally registered.
``The less said the better about these details,'' Milingo said.
``And let's have respect for my wife. Besides, we are in a process
that's already under way, and I can't speak about it.''
He said the threat of excommunication didn't come up in the 40
minutes he spent with the pope at the pontiff's summer retreat at
Castel Gandolfo in the hills outside Rome -- or during an hour-long
meeting with other senior Vatican officials.