ROME - Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who shocked the Vatican by marrying a woman chosen by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, has written to Pope John Paul II renouncing his life with his Korean wife and reconciling with the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said today.
In a letter issued by the Vatican today, Archbishop Milingo, 71, said he had turned his back on Mr. Moon's Unification Church, satisfying three conditions set by the Vatican for the Zambian prelate to avoid excommunication.
"I now rededicate my life to the Catholic Church with all my heart, I renounce my life together with Maria Sung and my dealings with Rev. Moon and his Family Federation for World Peace," read the letter, which was dated Aug. 11.
Ms. Sung, whom Archbishop Milingo married on May 27 in New York City in a mass wedding organized by Mr. Moon, accused the Vatican of holding the archbishop a prisoner.
"I am convinced he is a prisoner," said Ms. Sung, who had said on Monday that she might be pregnant with the prelate's child.
"I have tried to move the consciences of people who are holding him," she said at a news conference in Rome. "Now I think it is time to go to the police."
Last week, Archbishop Milingo turned up in Rome unexpectedly, It was apparently an attempt to make amends with the Vatican, which had threatened to excommunicate him after his marriage.
He has not been seen in public since last Wednesday.
Ms. Sung, 43, arrived in Rome a few days after Archbishop Milingo met the pope, demanding to see her husband. She has started a fast and has said she will not eat again until she either sees him or dies.
"What the Vatican has said until now has been all lies," Ms. Sung told reporters. "I don't believe it. Someone else is making him say these things."
"Even if he telephones me and tells me he wants to leave me, I still won't believe it because I'm sure he will have been drugged," said Ms. Sung, an acupuncturist from South Korea.
The Rev. Philip Schanker, a spokesman for the Unification Church, who traveled to Rome with Ms. Sung, attacked the Vatican's handling of the situation.
"Tonight I fear only for the archbishop's life because any institution built on such falsehood will crumble no matter what," he told reporters. "This isn't the Middle Ages. If the Vatican wants to do the right thing, they should let Milingo speak for himself."
A Baptist minister in the group backing Ms. Sung added, "The archbishop's silence leads us to believe that his human rights are being violated."
The Vatican has said that Archbishop Milingo is on retreat for a "period of reflection and prayer."
The archbishop said last week he was torn between his wife, the pope and his respect for Mr. Moon.
In July, the Vatican told the archbishop that he would be excommunicated unless he agreed to:
"(a) Leave Maria Sung, (b) sever all links with the sect, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, (c) declare publicly his fidelity to the doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline of celibacy and to manifest his obedience to the Supreme Pontiff by a clear and unequivocal act."
In the letter issued today, Archbishop Milingo said he had heard the pope's call to come back to the Catholic Church partly as "a paternal order to live out my faithfulness and obedience to you, Christ's representative on earth."
He added in his letter to the pope, "I am your humble and obedient servant."
VATICAN CITY -- A Zambian archbishop whose marriage scandalized the Vatican is leaving his wife and returning to the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said Tuesday, quoting the archbishop as having told the pope: ``I am your humble and obedient servant.''
Ignoring his celibacy vow, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo was married in a mass ceremony conducted by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon on May 27 in New York. The Vatican said Milingo also was breaking his ties to Moon.
The case not only embarrassed the Vatican but also raised concerns that Milingo might break from the church and consecrate his own -- noncelibate -- bishops.
The Vatican released a brief letter it said the 71-year-old Milingo wrote Saturday to Pope John Paul II announcing the decisions, which followed talks with Vatican officials.
The letter said Milingo was recommitting his life ``in the Catholic church with all my heart, renouncing my living together with Maria Sung and my relationship with the Rev. Moon and the Family Federation for World Peace.''
``I am your humble and obedient servant,'' the letter to the pope said.
The Vatican released the letter a few hours after the woman Milingo married, Maria Sung, said she has begun fasting to force Vatican officials to reunite her with her husband. She said she would renounce food ``until he is free to meet me or until I die.''
``If he says he wants to leave me, in his own voice, I'm sure he's under the effect of drugs,'' she told reporters after the Vatican announcement. ``I will continue fasting until I die and my spirit will be near him.''
The Rev. Phillip Schanker of Moon's church denounced the Vatican for ``arrogantly trying to steal her husband.''
``This is not the Middle Ages,'' he said. ``He can get in a car and be with her in one hour.''
Sung says she has been kept apart from her husband since they came together to the Vatican and Milingo met with the pope last week.
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, a 43-year-old South Korean doctor, suggested Monday that she may be pregnant. But she said she was not worried about possible health risks from her fast and will only drink water.
Both she and Milingo have dodged questions whether the marriage performed by Moon was actually registered in New York City.
Milingo had been threatened with excommuncation for marrying Sung. He has said priests need not be celibate and that God's blessings were meant to be given through the family.
Most Catholics consider Moon's doctrines well 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. The rituals, called ``Holy Blessing Ceremonies,'' are a central practice of Moon's religion, and Moon arranges the marriages personally.
ROME - The wife of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who says she may be pregnant by the prelate, began a hunger strike Tuesday and said she was ready to die if he renounced their marriage and returned to the Catholic Church.
"If I can't meet him on earth, I will die and with my spirit I will be close to him," Maria Sung told a news conference. "Marriage is still valid even beyond death."
Milingo, a controversial Zambian-born faith healer and exorcist, scandalized the Catholic world in May when he married Sung at a mass wedding organized by Rev Sun Myung Moon.
Last month the Vatican threatened to excommunicate Milingo unless he left his wife, severed all his links with Moon's sect, publicly declared his fidelity to the doctrine of celibacy and clearly demonstrated his obedience to Pope John Paul.
He has not been seen in public since last week when he told reporters he was torn between his wife, Pope John Paul and his respect for Moon, who is hailed as a Messiah by his followers but is decried as dangerous by others.
Sung said she believed her husband was being kept from her by force and that she would pray at the Vatican every day starting just after dawn for him to be given back.
"I love Emmanuel Milingo with all my heart and am ready to give my life to protect him, just as he would do for me. I want to meet my husband face to face, without anyone's control," Sung said, reading from a statement in broken Italian.
A spokesman for Moon's Unification Church said Sung wanted to sit in St Peter's Square with a large picture of her husband from dawn to dusk during her hunger strike.
Sung, a Korean acupuncturist, stopped eating at midnight and will only drink water from now on, the spokesman said.
Asked if she was concerned about the effect not eating would have on any child she might be carrying, Sung said Milingo was her priority at the moment.
"The most important person right now is the one who is already alive but who isn't free -- Monsignor Milingo. My health and any other situation is secondary to that," she said calmly.
Sung, 43, told reporters Monday she suspected she may be pregnant. But she said she would not take a pregnancy test until her husband was by her side.
"If it comes out positive, people will say I am using it to get him back and if it is negative, there is a risk they will just let me go," she told a throng of reporters tracking her story assiduously in an otherwise quiet August.
As the strange story of a Catholic archbishop marrying and possibly expecting a child took its latest bizarre twist, Italian and Vatican police stepped up their guard in St. Peter's Square and stopped reporters following Sung into the basilica.
Milingo shot back into the public eye last week when he turned up unexpectedly at the Pope's summer residence southeast of Rome in an apparent attempt to make amends following the sensational group wedding in New York where he married Sung.
The Vatican said the 71-year-old archbishop "had decided to pass a period of reflection and prayer ahead of his full reconciliation" with the Catholic Church.
Sung said she was convinced Milingo would return to her side and that she saw no reason for him to renounce his position as a Catholic archbishop or as her husband.
"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," she said.
ROME (AP) -- The wife of a Zambian archbishop whose marriage scandalized the Vatican went to the center of the Roman Catholic Church on Monday to pray that she be reunited with her husband.
Maria Sung's hour-long visit to the Vatican came after she announced plans to begin a hunger strike Tuesday if church officials denied her request to see her husband, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo. She said he was not the ``private property'' of the church.
``Since we got married and we are husband and wife and against our will we were separated, until we are united again together, I will fast,'' Sung told The Associated Press through a translator.
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 spent an hour Monday afternoon visiting St. Peter's Square and St. Peter's Basilica, first praying in front of an obelisk and then inside at the main papal altar.
Responding to journalists' questions, Sung, who was married May 27, also suggested she may be pregnant by Milingo.
She said her period is late, which could be because of travel and physical exhaustion ``or because I'm expecting a child.'' She said she will wait to be reunited with Milingo before taking a pregnancy test.
Saying she has complete faith in her husband's character and faithfulness to her, Sung rebuked the Vatican for keeping him away from her.
``Before being a Catholic, he is a human being,'' Sung said. ``He is not private property of the Catholic Church. I don't want to fight with the Catholic Church, all I want is to find my husband.''
Milingo and his wife traveled to Italy last week, and Milingo met with the pope to discuss his reasons for getting married in a mass wedding held by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's church. Milingo has said priests need not be celibate and that God's blessings were meant to be given through the family.
Sung said she hasn't seen her husband since Aug. 6 and hasn't heard from him since Wednesday.
ROMA - Il matrimonio non è stato per Milingo un colpo di scena né un gesto improvviso. Ho seguito personalmente ogni fase del suo percorso di avvicinamento. Come numerosi prelati cattolici, è in stretto contatto con la Chiesa dellUnificazione dallinizio del 94. Lunica differenza è che lui ha reso pubblica la sua adesione, gli altri sono rimasti segreti». Franco Pasqualini, ex portavoce in Italia e per anni stretto collaboratore del reverendo Moon, riscrive totalmente la storia del «caso Milingo». La vicenda è esplosa due mesi e mezzo fa, ma il legame fra il presule africano e gli unificazionisti è saldo da otto anni e coinvolge decine di uomini di Chiesa, soprattutto statunitensi, entrati nellorganizzazione interconfessionale del miliardario coreano.
In che modo avete avvicinato Milingo?
«Sette anni fa a Zocco, in provincia di Brescia, larcivescovo stava celebrando un rito collettivo di guarigione in un capannone. Cera una folla sterminata e tanti cercavano di avvicinarsi a lui dopo la messa. Abbiamo consegnato al suo segretario un bigliettino in cui gli illustravamo il nostro interessamento per la sua attività pastorale. Monsignor Milingo si mostrò interessato al carattere universalistico del movimento. Era stato centrato il primo obiettivo».
Perché proprio lui?
«Moon ha individuato in ogni religione dei leader carismatici che possono affiancarlo nella Chiesa dellUnificazione. Per noi Milingo è un personaggio carismatico di fama mondiale, un uomo di Dio che parla alle moltitudini e riesce a coinvolgerle. Nei progetti del nostro fondatore larcivescovo africano è la personalità più adatta per dialogare con la Chiesa, un preziosissimo referente nel mondo cattolico. Così come lo è Louis Farrakan, il capo degli islamici statunitensi. Una parte fondamentale della strategia di Moon».
Nel vostro gruppo dirigenziale sono rappresentate tutte le religioni?
«Sì, per la Chiesa dellUnificazione è più facile penetrare nelle confessioni protestanti. Hanno aderito al movimento molti battisti, episcopaliani (come George Bush senior) e metodisti. Ma sulla difesa della vita e la promozione della famiglia abbiamo trovato argomenti comuni con i cattolici e i musulmani. Milingo aveva già partecipato negli Anni 90 a matrimoni collettivi e meeting della nostra organizzazione. Lui ha reso pubblica questa sua vicinanza a Moon, altri personaggi della Chiesa cattolica non sono usciti allo scoperto. E adesso che è scoppiato il caso stanno attenti a non esporsi».
Esiste una lista di uomini di Chiesa avvicinati da Moon?
«Certo, i nomi dei prelati sono custoditi gelosamente nella sede centrale del movimento. Nellelenco ci sono personaggi di primo piano del mondo cattolico, teologi e monsignori che condividono le nostre battaglie per la moralizzazione del mondo e non fanno mancare il loro sostegno. Nei piani del reverendo Moon, Milingo doveva essere, nel massimo riserbo, il loro coordinatore, ma poi le vicende hanno preso una diversa piega e si è deciso di far conoscere al mondo il feeling tra il reverendo e il vescovo guaritore, un rapporto maturato negli anni e alimentato dalla reciproca stima. Tra la Chiesa dellUnificazione e il Vaticano non esistono relazioni ufficiali. Ritenevamo che Milingo potesse aprirci le porte del dialogo con Roma».
Come si è arrivati a questa sorta «doppia appartenenza» ?
«Il primo faccia a faccia tra Moon e il celebre esorcista è stato determinante. Kwack, il braccio destro del reverendo, aveva preparato tutto nei minimi dettagli e larcivescovo mise in chiaro la sua intenzione di restare nella Chiesa cattolica. Nessun problema, replicò il nostro fondatore. Daltronde gli unificazionisti non mirano a strappare le persone alla loro religione, ma a far confluire i loro carismi nella missione interconfessionale del movimento. Ciò vale soprattutto per un leader religioso come Milingo. La sua forza sta proprio nel riuscire a camminare sul filo dellortodossia, senza mai diventare eretico e sperimentando mix inediti tra forme arcaiche e moderne di religiosità. In fondo questa sua attitudine poliedrica è ciò che ha attirato la nostra attenzione e che lo ha fatto avvicinare a Moon».
Eppure si è parlato di plagio e persino di droghe somministrate prima delle nozze del 27 maggio. Che cosa risponde?
«Sono ipotesi assurde. Lincontro tra noi e Milingo risale a sette anni fa ed è un percorso maturato nel tempo. Non si è trattato di un gesto folle, ma di un progressivo avvicinamento, di ununione a lungo ponderata. Larcivescovo non è uno sprovveduto e sapeva bene cosa stava facendo. Moon aveva visto giusto: lui era il nostro uomo in Vaticano».
"La Stampa" del 13 agosto riporta un passo di un'intervista telefonica che ho rilasciato ad una Sua collaboratrice. In un brano vi sono alcune imprecisioni, sicuramente dovute alla concitazione del momento, che La prego di voler rettificare:
1. Io non sono il "responsabile del movimento religioso", bensì il portavoce italiano.
2. Non ho detto che dei collaboratori di Mons. Milingo hanno affermato che la Chiesa ha affidato il Monsignore ai "deprogrammatori degli anni 70". Ho riportato l'opinione di tali collaboratori secondo la quale egli sarebbe sottoposto a pressioni psicologiche; solo come analogia ed esempio ho parlato di quei deprogrammatori. I quali si spera siano ormai tutti in pensione...
3. Fortunatamente non è vero che i deprogrammatori riescono - ed è importante - "a riportare tutti alla fede iniziale". Questo è sempre stato solo il loro slogan, la loro pubblicità. Abbiamo molti esempi di membri del nostro movimento i quali, pur se sottoposti a "deprogrammazione", sono rimasti fermi nelle loro convinzioni.
La ringrazio per la pubblicazione e Le auguro buon lavoro.
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