Wife of Archbishop Demands to See Her
Saturday, August 11, 2001
|Saturday: Maria Sung cries during a
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VATICAN CITY — The wife of an
archbishop who scandalized the Vatican by getting married
pleaded tearfully Saturday to be allowed to see her husband
and threatened to go on a hunger strike if church officials
denied her request.
Maria Sung suggested that the church was
holding her husband, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, against his
will after he met with the pope and Vatican officials in an
effort to open a dialogue and avert his excommunication.
"I am afraid that my husband is not free to
speak with me," Sung told a press conference at a Rome hotel,
reading from a prepared statement in Italian. "I am asking the
church that my husband loves to tell me where he is."
Milingo, a Zambian, and his wife traveled
to Italy last week, and Milingo met Tuesday with Pope John
Paul II to discuss his reasons for getting married in one of
the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's group weddings. Milingo has said
priests need not be celibate and that God's blessings were
meant to be given through the family.
||Emmanuel Milingo is escorted by
Italian police officers after a meeting with the
After the meeting, the Vatican suspended
its threat to throw Milingo out of the church while talks
continued. The Vatican had previously said Milingo faced
excommunication if he didn't leave his wife by Aug. 20, sever
his ties with Moon's movement, publicly promise to remain
celibate and "manifest his obedience to the Supreme Pontiff."
In a statement Saturday, the Vatican's
orthodoxy watchdog ・the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith
・said Milingo had decided to reconcile after meeting with the
pope and being reminded "of his responsibilities to God and
"After the lamentable events to which he
was a protagonist, he has decided to take a period of
reflection and prayer in view of his total reconciliation,"
the statement said.
Milingo has said he doesn't want to leave
the church, and after his meeting Tuesday with the pope said
he was going to take time to reflect and pray. But he said he
would have to consult his wife before deciding what to do
Sung said she hadn't seen her husband since
Monday. They spoke briefly by telephone Wednesday. "He told me
he was facing a difficult fight, and that he was not free to
talk, but would call back soon," she said.
Efforts to reach Milingo through his
Italian handlers had failed, she told reporters, speaking
behind a pink-framed photograph of the smiling couple.
One of Milingo's Italian handlers, Alba
Vitali, who helped arrange the meeting with the pope, has said
Milingo was in the hands of God in retreat, where he couldn't
Sung, who repeatedly broke down in tears
and at one point briefly left the press conference, said she
would begin fasting in three days or less if she wasn't
allowed to see her husband.
"My husband told me he would give his life
to protect me," her statement read. "But I don't know where he
is, and I am afraid for what is happening to him. So now, I am
willing to give my life to find him."
Milingo has long been at odds with the
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.
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