Maverick archbishop's wife may be pregnant

By Jane Barrett
August 13, 2001 12:58 pm EDT

VATICAN CITY, Aug 13 (Reuters) - The wife of controversial Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo marched into St Peter's Basilica on Monday, prayed for God to return her husband and said she may be carrying the African prelate's child.

"My period is late," Maria Sung said when asked about a report that she may be pregnant.

The 43-year-old Korean, who was mobbed by reporters outside St Peter's, also repeated a threat to go on a hunger strike until she can see her husband, who has gone into seclusion.

"Monsignor Milingo knows the date of my last period so you should ask him," she said after praying at the Vatican.

"I don't know if it is physical tiredness, all this travelling, or if I am pregnant, but I will wait to do a pregnancy test with him," she said, speaking through an interpreter.

Sung and Milingo married at a mass wedding in New York in May when the Zambian-born archbishop scandalised the Catholic world by joining the Unification Church of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

Last week, Milingo, a controversial faith healer and exorcist, suddenly turned up in Italy in an apparent attempt to heal the rift with Pope John Paul. A tearful Sung followed him soon after, demanding to see him again.

"If I am expecting a baby, it would be in the interests of the child to know its father. He would want to know his father," Sung said, adding that she planned to begin fasting on Tuesday.

The 71-year-old archbishop has not been seen in public for five days. An Italian man who says he is Milingo's spokesman said he had gone on spiritual retreat somewhere in Italy and would not reappear for between two and three weeks.

In a carefully choreographed visit to the seat of Catholic power, a smartly dressed Sung marched to the main altar of St Peter's, sat down and prayed for about 10 minutes.

"I told God that if he did not want me to die he should give me back my husband," Sung said in a composed voice, surrounded by a squad of body guards and a translator.

Vatican and Italian security guards had difficulty controlling the more than 50 reporters who followed her.

Before entering Christendom's largest church, Sung clutched a red handkerchief and wept in front of a bank of photographers. She walked to the centre of St Peter's Square and squatted in meditation at the obelisk in the middle.

After her heavily guarded trip to the Vatican, Sung said: "I'm simply a woman waiting for her husband."


The surreal saga of a Catholic archbishop who moved to Moon's Unification Church, married and could now become a father has kept Italians riveted, with new juicy details emerging almost daily like a well-scripted soap opera.

Since his sudden return, Milingo has said he is torn between his wife, the Pope and his respect for Moon who is hailed by his followers as the Messiah but decried as dangerous by many others.

After meeting the Pope last week, the Vatican said Milingo had "decided to pass a period of reflection and prayer ahead of his full reconciliation" with the Catholic Church.

It added that the Pontiff had "paternally called him to his responsibility towards God and the Church."

Milingo's priestly promises include a vow of celibacy. The Catholic Church does not recognise Milingo's marriage but if it transpires that his union has been consummated, it could further complicate an already complex situation.