VATICAN CITY -- A Zambian archbishop whose marriage scandalized the Vatican is leaving his wife and returning to the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said Tuesday, quoting the archbishop as having told the pope, "I am your humble and obedient servant."
Ignoring his celibacy vow, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo
was married in a mass ceremony conducted by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon on May
27 in New York.
The Vatican said Milingo is also breaking his ties
to Moon. The case not only embarrassed the Vatican but also raised
concerns that Milingo might break from the church and consecrate his
The Vatican released a brief letter that
it said the 71-year-old Milingo wrote Saturday to Pope John Paul II
announcing the decisions, which followed talks with Vatican
The letter said Milingo was recommitting his life "in
the Catholic Church with all my heart, renouncing my living together with
Maria Sung and my relationship with the Rev. Moon and the Family
Federation for World Peace."
"I am your humble and obedient
servant," the letter said.
The Vatican released the letter a few
hours after Sung, the woman Milingo married, said she had begun fasting to
force Vatican officials to reunite her with her husband. She said she
would renounce food "until he is free to meet me or until I
"If he says he wants to leave me, in his own voice, I'm sure
he's under the effect of drugs," she told reporters after the Vatican
announcement. "I will continue fasting until I die and my spirit will be
The Rev. Phillip Schanker of Moon's church denounced the
Vatican for "arrogantly trying to steal her husband."
"This is not
the Middle Ages," he said. "He can get in a car and be with her in one
Sung says she has been kept apart from her husband since
they traveled to the Vatican and Milingo met with the pope last
The Vatican has not disclosed Milingo's whereabouts, saying
only that he is on a spiritual retreat.
Sung, a 43-year-old South
Korean doctor, suggested Monday that she may be pregnant. But she said she
was not worried about possible health risks from her fast.
and Milingo have dodged questions about whether the marriage performed by
Moon was registered in New York City.
Milingo had been threatened
with excommunication for marrying Sung. He has said that priests need not
be celibate and that God's blessings were meant to be given through the
Moon's doctrines are considered to be well beyond the
bounds of traditional Christianity. For instance, followers regard Moon as
the Messiah who is completing the salvation Jesus Christ failed to
In the past two years, Milingo has appeared at group
weddings conducted by Moon. The rituals are a central practice of Moon's
religion, and Moon arranges the marriages personally.