LUSAKA, Zambia, MAY 29, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a statement by Zambian bishops issued today, in the wake of former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo´s marriage Sunday in New York.
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Statement from the Catholic Bishops in Zambia on the defection of the former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo from the Catholic Church
We, the Catholic Bishops in Zambia are deeply saddened and pained by the defection of Archbishop Milingo in his attempt to marry in the Moon Sect. For a long time we have tried to reach out to Archbishop Milingo, who has unfortunately rejected our regular and honest advice. Other people in the Church, including the Holy Father, have tried to reach out to him, but he took this advice as a form of persecution (Mt,18:15-17). In spite of all the efforts made by us and others, he decided to go on with his plan to marry, thereby turning his back on the Catholic Church. By doing this, the former Archbishop has put himself outside the Catholic Church. This implies that he is no longer a Bishop nor part of the Catholic Church. The former Archbishop has betrayed his vows by attempting marriage while still under his priestly commitments.
The defection of the former Archbishop should not come as a surprise to us. Even among the apostles one of them did fall. His act portrays his failure to abide by sound apostolic tradition, which suddenly induced him not to perceive the advice from so many and not to discern the truth. He rather portrayed the others as not understanding his actions.
We feel deep sympathy for the many people who put their trust in the former Archbishop and now feel betrayed and abandoned by his action. A challenge for them now is to make a right choice by committing themselves to follow Jesus Christ, who has the words of eternal life, rather than anyone else (Jn 6:8). The action by the former archbishop is a reminder to us of our own fragility in faith. It should therefore make us humble. Left to ourselves, without deep faith in Christ, we remain fragile and open to sin. However, the defection of any one of us does not change the Church of Jesus Christ, as it continues to bring His teaching and sacraments to the world.
Finally, we invite all Christians to continue praying for the former Archbishop in the hope that he will decide to repent and come back to the Church.
29th May 2001, Lusaka, Zambia