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15 August 2001 Wednesday 24 Jamadi-ul-Awwal 1422

Archbishop renounces wife for church

VATICAN CITY, Aug 14: Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who shocked the Vatican by marrying a woman chosen by Rev Sun Myung Moon, has written to Pope John Paul renouncing his life with his Korean wife and returning to the Catholic Church.

In a letter sent to the Pope last week but released by the Vatican only on Tuesday, Milingo also said he had turned his back on Moon's Unification Church, satisfying three conditions set by the Vatican for the African prelate to avoid excommunication.

"I now rededicate my life to the Catholic Church with all my heart, I renounce my life together with (wife) Maria Sung and my dealings with Rev Moon and his Family Federation for World Peace," read the letter, dated Aug 11.

Milingo and Sung married at a mass wedding in New York last May, prompting the Vatican to threaten to cut him off unless he left his wife, severed links with Moon's church and show his obedience to the Pope "by a clear, unequivocal act".Last week Milingo turned up unexpectedly at the Pontiff's summer residence near Rome, apparently to make amends.

A tearful Sung arrived in Rome soon afterwards, demanding to see her husband and saying she might even be pregnant with the Zambian-born archbishop's child.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sung said she was convinced Milingo would come back to her but that if he didn't, she had begun a hunger strike at midnight on Monday and was ready to continue it and die for him.

"We married before God and if he decides it is no longer true, I am ready to die. But I don't believe my husband will go back on his decision," the 43-year-old told a news conference. Rev Philip Schanker, a spokesman for the Unification Church, who has travelled to Rome with Sung, said she did not believe Milingo could have decided to return to the Catholic fold without consulting her.

"She believes the Vatican is trying to steal her husband," Schanker said. "This isn't the Middle Ages. If the Vatican wants to do the right thing, they should let Milingo speak for himself," he said. Milingo has not been seen in public since last Wednesday and the Vatican has said he is at a retreat for a "period of reflection and prayer". Schanker hinted that he and Sung believed Milingo was being held against his will.

"This is now a police situation. His wife will go to the police and wants to see her husband," Schanker said, accusing the Vatican of doing something "criminal". he surreal story of a Catholic Archbishop joining Moon's sect, marrying and possibly expecting a child has gripped the Italian imagination since Milingo, a controversial faith healer and exorcist, returned to Rome.-Reuters

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The DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2001