"Maverick Catholic Archbishop Married by Rev. Moon"
by Chris Michaud (Reuters, May 27, 2001)
NEW YORK - Maverick Roman Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo on Sunday married a Korean acupuncturist in a group wedding organized by the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, leaving himself open to excommunication.
"At 71 years of age, after a lifetime of devotion to the church and to my priestly vows, the Lord has called me to take a step that will change my life forever," Milingo said in a statement issued in New York, on the eve of the wedding.
According to Canon Law, Milingo may be subject to automatic excommunication if the Vatican finds him guilty of apostasy, or renouncing his faith. Catholic priests are not allowed to marry without first leaving the clergy.
A controversial faith healer from Zambia who also practices exorcism, Milingo was married to Maria Sung, chosen as his bride by Moon.
About 60 other couples of mixed races representing major religions were also married during the one-hour ceremony at the New York Hilton Hotel conducted by Moon and his wife. The women wore white bridal gowns and veil while the men wore tuxedos.
As the couples stood arm-in-arm Moon, whose followers regard him as a messiah, read their marriage vows in Korean. They responded "yes" in unison.
Also among those married was former Catholic priest George Stallings of Washington, who was excommunicated in 1990 for creating the breakaway African American Catholic Congregation, of which he is now archbishop.
Stallings, 53, married Sayomi Kamimoto, 24, a staff assistant in New York for the Unification Church.
"THE COMMAND OF JESUS"
Milingo's statement on Saturday said that as a celibate priest, matrimony had been the furthest thing from his mind.
"It is only through the command of Jesus, and the counsel and support of Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, that I take this unexpected and bold step that I have wrestled with in my heart for some time."
Milingo said he and his new wife would return to Africa to bring a mission of healing and renewal to the continent where many countries are being ravaged by HIV and AIDS.
"I offer my eternal gratitude and respect to the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. I am and always will be devoted to the church that I love," he said.
The marriage is the latest in a string of embarrassments Milingo has caused the Vatican over what some Church authorities consider his unorthodox methods.
In defiance of diocesan bishops in Italy, Milingo has presided at colorful masses and meetings at which he has carried out impromptu exorcisms.
Last September, Milingo, who moved to Rome in 1983, was quietly stripped of his job in a Vatican department.
In November, the Vatican issued strict new rules aimed at curbing unauthorized exorcism and faith healing. Milingo was not mentioned by name, but many of the rules seemed to be drafted with him in mind.
NEW YORK -- A 71-year-old Catholic archbishop married a Korean acupuncturist Sunday in a group ceremony led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
A spokesman for the archdiocese of New York would not say what action, if any, the church planned to take. But Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the former archbishop of Lusaka, said he had no intention of leaving the church.
Milingo has long been at odds with the Catholic hierarchy, although he remains based in Rome and still carries his title. He said in a prepared statement that he had kept his priestly vow of celibacy since 1958 but has decided it's time for Catholicism to change.
"Now at 71 years of age, after a lifetime of devotion to the Church and to my priestly vows, the Lord has called me to take a step that will change my life forever, which will enable me to be a vehicle of His grace and blessing to Africa and the world, but one which I expect will alter my relationship with the Roman Catholic Church as well," Milingo said in a statement.
"As a celibate priest, matrimony was the furthest thing from my mind," said Milingo, who added that the step was "one that I have wrestled with in my heart for some time."
Milingo said his fiance, 43-year-old Maria Sung, requested that Moon and his wife officiate at the wedding, held at the New York Hilton. The couple plans to move to Africa.
In a five-page statement explaining his decision, Milingo said the Bible taught "it is only as a couple that we can fully reflect His [God's] nature."
Many priests have not been able to maintain their celibacy, he said.
"All manner of defilements, including unnatural lust, illegitimate children, and other secret horrors have burdened the lives of those seeking to serve Him. The increase of homosexuality and pregnancy among priests and nuns has become common knowledge. In this way, Satan's blood has continued to flow into and through God's Church."
Rev. Moon selected wife
Milingo, who claims to be able to heal the sick spontaneously and exorcise demons, said he had been "accused of all manner of earthly and spiritual evils, called to Rome ... questioned, examined, and isolated."
Milingo was archbishop of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, when he ran afoul of the Vatican over his ministry of faith healings and exorcisms. He resigned under pressure in 1983, a very rare occurrence with an archbishop below normal retirement age and in good health.
Milingo then was brought to Rome as a functionary in the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, but continued public meetings of healing and exorcism. Last year, he was quietly retired from the post.
Milingo's wife was selected by Moon and approved by Milingo within the past two weeks, said Phillip Schanker, the spokesman for the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the central group within Moon's movement.
He added that Moon selected a Korean woman who is a member of his Unification Church because "the theme of this marriage was interreligious and interracial."
The bride was dressed in a traditional white gown and veil. Milingo was wearing a black tuxedo.
In all, at least 60 couples were married during the ceremony.
Most Roman Catholics consider Moon's doctrines well beyond the bounds of traditional Christianity. For instance, the church says Jesus was divine "but he is not God," and followers regard Moon as the messiah who is completing the salvation Jesus Christ failed to accomplish.
Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo -- healer, exorcist, and now also a singer -- has repeatedly left the Vatican red-faced and was set to do so again on Sunday when he is married by Reverend Sun Myung Moon in New York.
Born in 1930 in a village in eastern Zambia, Milingo was illiterate until the age of 12, and so poor that he has said he only tried on his first pair of shoes when he turned 18.
But after studying theology, philosophy and the social sciences, he became a Catholic priest 10 years later.
Famous across Africa for his popular radio appearances, the Zambian preacher was nominated Archbishop of Lusaka at age 39, a post he held for fourteen years before falling out of the Vatican's good graces.
Milingo's activities as a healer and exorcist provoked widespread condemnation from the Holy See, which saw them as incompatible with his ecclesiastical duties.
Accused of having lost his mental stability, he was recalled to Rome in 1983 to face a trial by the clergy. In his autobiography, "The Healer of Souls," he accused the Vatican of literally "kidnapping" him and forcing him to live for months -- "like a prisoner" -- in a monastery.
He was eventually made deputy head of an organisation dealing with the pastoral of tourism at the Vatican, where he lived in virtual exile.
But he resumed his healing activities, first in Rome and later throughout Italy, Europe, and soon around the world.
Thousands of people "possessed by the devil" called for him to save them, leaving the Catholic clergy deeply divided over what to do with him -- some rejected the Zambian while others showed solidarity with him.
With the Italian media busy courting him, Milingo in 1995 pulled another surprise: dressed in a floral shirt and a baseball cap, with an array of traditional musical instruments in hand, the priest recorded his first music album, "Gubudu Gubudu" or "The Drunkard".
With the success of his first album, inspired by Zulu culture, the priest produced a second one three years later, which he named after himself and dedicated to the continuing battle against evil.
After being told he was a "clown" and a "sorcerer" by the Italian Cardinal Silvio Oddi, Milingo replied: "You only have to get yourself exorcised to avoid spending eternity next to Satan."
The Vatican was steadily growing more exasperated with the Zambian, particularly after he became cosy with South Korea's Unification Church, now with around 200,000 members worldwide known as "Moonies" after their leader.
Milingo was stripped of his functions, lost his official flat in Vatican City and moved to a village in the Italian region of Lazio, from where he would stage his world tours.
"In the Church, everybody has their own vocation and mine is to battle evil," said Milingo.
On Sunday, he is expected to marry a 43-year-old Korean woman -- personally selected by Moon -- during a mass wedding ceremony in New York, the Italian ANSA agency reported.
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