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Priest's wife thinks fast

August 13, 2001

VATICAN CITY: The wife of the Zambian archbishop who scandalised the Vatican by getting married has appealed to church officials to let her see her husband and threatened to go on a hunger strike if they refuse.

Korean acupuncturist Maria Sung suggested at the weekend that her husband, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, was being held against his will by the church and vowed to risk her life to find him.

"I am afraid that my husband is not free to speak with me," a tearful Ms Sung said at a Rome press conference.

Archbishop Milingo and his wife, who were married in one of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's mass weddings in New York on May 27, travelled to Italy last week. He had sought an audience with the Pope to explain why he got married.

He has said that priests need not be celibate and that God's blessings are meant to be given through the family.

The Pope received him last Tuesday. After the meeting, the Vatican suspended its threat to excommunicate him while talks continued. It had said previously that Archbishop Milingo faced excommunication if he did not leave his wife by August 20, sever his ties with Reverend Moon's movement, promise to remain celibate and "manifest his obedience to the Supreme Pontiff".

A Vatican statement said the archbishop had been reminded by the Pope "of his responsibilities to God and the church".

Archbishop Milingo said he would take time to reflect and pray, but that he would have to consult his wife before deciding what to do next.

Ms Sung said she had spoken to her husband by telephone on Wednesday: "He told me he was facing a difficult fight, and that he was not free to talk, but would call back soon."

Ms Sung said she would begin fasting in three days or less if she were not allowed to see her husband.

AP

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