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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 22:22 GMT 23:22 UK
Farewell meeting for archbishop's wife
Maria Sung stands outside the Vatican during her hunger-strike
Ms Sung's supporters have regularly protested at the Vatican
The Roman Catholic archbishop who scandalised the Vatican with his Moonie marriage has met his estranged spouse for the first time since he publicly renounced her earlier this month.

For the great love of my husband, I'll respect his decision

Maria Sung
The 71-year old Zambian cleric, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Lusaka, met 43-year-old Maria Sung at central Rome's Arcangelo hotel on Wednesday to inform her of his decision in person, the Vatican said.

He gave Ms Sung, who had been on hunger-strike to demand a personal meeting with her husband, a hand-written letter stating he had renounced his marriage and returned to the Church.

I sympathise with your suffering. I am with you in everything

Archbishop Milingo
"I'll respect his decision," his wife later told reporters. "But that doesn't change the feeling I have for him in my heart."

Ms Sung said her husband had said he loved her "as a brother to a sister", and had not sought her forgiveness.

Their meeting, although face-to-face, was not private. At least five of Ms Sung's entourage were reportedly present, and even more from the Vatican side.

"Everyone was crying," her spokesman said. "Both of them expressed a lot of love for each other."

Vatican accused

Archbishop Milingo's marriage at a ceremony led by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, and his subsequent renunciation, dominated the Italian press this summer and reporters were out again in force on Wednesday in an attempt to catch the ill-starred couple.

"My commitment to the life of the Church, including celibacy, does not allow me to be married," the cleric wrote in the letter quoted by the Vatican.

Archbishop Milingo with his letter
The archbishop has said his flock in Zambia needs him
Saying that his religious calling was his "primary pledge and the right one", he expressed his sympathy with Ms Sung.

The sensational marriage to the acupuncturist from South Korea began with a Unification Church mass wedding in New York in May.

The news provoked fury at the Vatican, which threatened to excommunicate the bridegroom.

Archbishop Milingo had a personal meeting with Pope John Paul II on 8 August after which he disappeared from public gaze until he appeared on TV on 24 August to announce he was leaving his wife.

Ms Sung at that time accused the Vatican of "drugging" the archbishop whom she said she would love "for the rest of my life".

She also suggested she might be pregnant, although tests later confirmed she was not.

She now says she looks forward to being reunited with her husband "in the afterlife".

The BBC's Freya Michie
"His wife started a hunger strike ten days ago"
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