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Wednesday August 15 9:24 AM ET

Vatican Releases Archbishop's Note

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican (news - web sites) released what it said was the signed, handwritten letter of a married archbishop who decided to leave his wife and return to the Catholic church.

The release Wednesday was designed to rebut suggestions by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo's wife that the Vatican had fabricated the letter or pressured Milingo to write it.

The single-page letter, written in Italian, was signed ``Milingo'' and corresponded to the typewritten transcript released a day earlier by the Vatican.

In it, Milingo said he had decided to recommit his life ``in the Catholic church with all my heart, renounce my living together with Maria Sung and my relationship with the Rev. (Sun Myung) Moon and the Family Federation for World Peace.''

``I am your humble and obedient servant,'' said the letter to Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II, dated Aug. 11.

The handwriting appeared to be similar to a document written by Milingo that was displayed earlier this week by a Moon spokesman.

Milingo, 71, scandalized the church when he married Sung, a 43-year-old South Korean doctor, in one of Moon's mass weddings May 27. The Zambian archbishop has said celibacy is poisoning the priesthood and that God's blessings were meant to be given through the family.

Both Milingo and Sung have dodged questions about whether the marriage was actually registered in New York City. Sung also refused to comment Wednesday when asked whether she had been previously married, as some reports have suggested.

Milingo met with the pope August 7 to explain his reasons for getting married. Sung says she hasn't heard from him since the next day, and says she fears the Vatican is holding him as a prisoner against his will.

The Vatican has not disclosed Milingo's whereabouts, saying only that he is on a spiritual retreat and that he should be left alone to pray.

Sung announced she had started a hunger strike on Tuesday, and on Wednesday at dawn returned to St. Peter's Square - the heart of the Roman Catholic Church - to pray.

``I'm continuing my fasting condition until I see him,'' Sung said Wednesday.

A spokesman for Moon's movement, the Rev. Phillip Schanker, said he was convinced Milingo's letter was written ``under duress.''

``We'll respect whatever he wants, but we're not convinced this is what he wants,'' Schanker said Wednesday. ``Our request is one: Let him stand up in front of the world and talk to the world.''

For the second time in a week, Sung refused Wednesday to meet a Vatican delegation that had come to her hotel to see her. She said she planned to file a complaint with Italian police, probably a missing persons report.

Sung has suggested she may be pregnant, but has said she was not worried about possible health risks from her fast and will only drink water.

Most Catholics consider Moon's doctrines beyond the bounds of traditional Christianity. For instance, Moon's followers regard Moon as the messiah who is completing the salvation Jesus Christ failed to accomplish.

In each of the past two years, Milingo has appeared at group weddings conducted by Moon. Moon arranges the marriages personally.

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Earlier Stories
Vatican: Archbishop Giving Up Wife (August 14)
Bishop's Wife Starts Hunger Stroke (August 14)
Archbishop's Wife Prays at Vatican (August 13)

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