On May 27, 2001, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo shocked the world and surprised the Catholic Church by marrying Doctor of Acupuncture Maria Sung in an interfaith ceremony with 60 clergy couples, including Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, former Roman Catholic priest and founder of the African-American Catholic Congregation. The marriage blessing ceremony, sponsored by the American Clergy Leadership Conference, was officiated by Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, and included Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Jewish, Moslem and other clergy as well, in an affirmation of the central role of God-centered families in building a peaceful world.
A Vatican statement issued May 28 warned that Archbishop Milingo's action had placed him at odds with the Catholic Church. It called for him to reflect, indicated that they were waiting to hear from him, and promised to communicate any further sanctions to him privately before taking any public action. But the African prelate professed his love for his mother Church, his concern for the sexual scandals and moral corruption infecting the priesthood, and his hope to work within the church for its renewal and relevance to society. In public statements and several private letters to Pope John Paul II, the Archbishop asked to meet with the Holy Father soon, pledging to remain celibate for 40 days and seeking reconciliation. The Vatican has ignored all of the Archbishop's letters, faxes and outreach, while systematically persecuting the congregations he founded, discrediting him in the media, and working to break down his charitable associations and alienate his benefactors. Sources close to the Vatican report that none of Milingo's letters have been conveyed to the Holy Father.
Now the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a statement demanding Milingo to leave his wife, disassociate with Rev. Moon, and pledge obedience to the Pope by August 20, or face excommunication. In his first public response, he will discuss the nearly 30 years of mistreatment and alienation of one of the church's pioneer African leaders, his good-faith efforts to reconcile and remain within the Catholic Church, his reasons for getting married at age 71, and the role of celibacy in the priesthood. Joining Monsignor Milingo will be Archbishop Stallings, Bishop Dan Johnson [Pentecostal], Rev. Leo Beatto [Lutheran- former priest, now married], Pastor T.L. Barrett [Church of God in Christ], and other clergy, calling for Catholics everywhere to affirm the sanctity of the family and uplift its role in the establishment of the Kingdom of God.
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