|From: News and Views | Beyond
the City |
Sunday, August 12, 2001
Bishop's Wife: Where Is He?
By DAVE SALTONSTALL
Daily News Staff Writer
he odd tale of the archbishop who
scandalized the Vatican by marrying a Moonie turned downright weird
yesterday as the prelate's wife threatened a hunger strike amid
signs he had returned to the Catholic fold.
Maria Sung, a follower of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, hinted that
the Vatican had kidnapped her husband, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo,
after he met with Pope John Paul last week in an effort to avert his
Milingo with wife Maria Sung|
"I am afraid that my husband is not free to speak with me," Sung
tearfully told a press conference at a Rome hotel. "I am asking the
church ... to tell me where he is."
In keeping with the air of mystery, however, Milingo was said by
his Italian handlers to be in the hands of God at a retreat, where
he couldn't be disturbed for 15 days.
The faceoff was the latest in a saga that began when Milingo — a
Zambian archbishop already on the outs with the church for his
exorcisms and faith healings — married Sung, an acupuncturist from
South Korea, in May at a group wedding at the Hilton Hotel in
The Vatican immediately read Milingo the religious riot act,
telling him he risked excommunication if he did not leave his wife,
sever links with Moon and declare his fidelity to the Pope and the
Catholic Church's law of celibacy.
The Pope originally set a deadline of Aug. 20 for Milingo to make
a decision but suspended the deadline this week after Milingo turned
up in Rome sporting his bishop's ring on his right hand and what
appeared to be a wedding band on his left.
The 71-year-old Milingo reportedly turned up unannounced at the
Pope's summer residence on Monday. The pontiff saw him briefly then
and again on Tuesday, after which the Vatican announced Milingo's
Milingo has said he doesn't want to leave the church and
indicated at a press conference Tuesday that he was going to take
time to reflect. In an apparent first for an archbishop, he also was
asked publicly if he had consummated his marriage.
The answer, which Milingo declined to give, could affect a
solution to the dilemma, given the Vatican's prohibition of sex
within the priesthood.
Last night, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, said
Milingo should be left alone to pray.
"The feelings of Maria Sung deserve respect, but also deserving
respect are the spiritual efforts of his excellency, Emmanuel
Milingo, who has freely asked for a period of reflection and
prayer," Benedettini said.
Whatever the outcome, Sung made it clear yesterday that she would
not give up her husband quietly. She said she hoped to begin her
hunger strike directly in front of the Vatican within three
"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
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