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28/08/2001 21:49  - (SA)   E-mail story to a friend
Archbishop's wife is taken ill

Rome - The wife of controversial Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Zambia was reported ill in Rome on Tuesday after entering her third week of hunger strike in a highly publicised attempt to win back her estranged husband.

Maria Sung, a 43-year-old Korean acupuncturist, has written an open letter to Pope John Paul II saying she wants to see her husband again. Sung said she had been "united to Milingo before God" during a group ceremony conducted by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church last May.

The woman, who has told Italian reporters she has lost 8kg since she began fasting 15 days ago, plans to continue her hunger strike until she is able to meet her husband in person.

Archbishop Milingo, who was threatened with excommunication because of his marriage, has since left his wife and has appealed for forgiveness during a private meeting with the pope.

"I love you as a sister and I will continue to pray for you for the rest of my life," 71-year-old Milingo said after agreeing to separate from his wife and cut off all ties with the Moon sect.

Followers of Reverend Moon have seized on the Milingo-Sung saga to engage in a high-profile diplomatic battle with the Vatican.

The two sides were still locked in negotiations aimed at arranging a meeting place for the couple.

Meanwhile, Sung for the first time in two weeks failed to turn up in St Peter's Square, where she had been following morning Mass. Instead, she was replaced by an empty chair placed there by Moon followers.

Sources close to the Vatican have quietly expressed frustration at the way the pope has handled the affair. - DPA

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