Vatican Dismisses Milingo From Clerical State

Calls Move an «Extraordinary» Measure

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2009 ( Retired Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Lusaka, Zambia, who attracted the world’s attention in 2001 when he attempted to marry a Korean acupuncturist during a ceremony of Sun Myung Moon’s Unificationist Church, has been dismissed from the clerical state.

A communiqué published today by the Vatican press office notes that the «dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is most extraordinary,» and adds that the Church «hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his way.»

Although the scandal of Milingo’s attempted marriage — so noted because the Church doesn’t recognize its validity — garnered much more media attention, the Church didn’t take the extreme measure to dismiss him from the clerical state until after he began in September 2006 to ordain bishops without permission from the Vatican. The ordinations are part of an effort to abolish celibacy in the priesthood.

«By so doing,» the Vatican statement affirms, «he incurred the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae (Canon 1382) which was declared by the Holy See on 26 September 2006 and is still in force today.»

«Sadly, Archbishop Milingo has shown no sign of the desired repentance with a view to returning to full communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the other members of the College of Bishops,» the note continues. «Rather, he has persisted in the unlawful exercise of acts belonging to the episcopal office, committing new crimes against the unity of Holy Church.

«Specifically, in recent months Archbishop Milingo has proceeded to several other episcopal ordinations. The commission of these grave crimes, which has recently been established, is to be considered as proof of the persistent contumacy of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.

«The Holy See has therefore been obliged to impose upon him the further penalty of dismissal from the clerical state.»

«While expressing hope for their conversion, the Church reaffirms what was declared on 26 September 2006, namely that she does not recognize these ordinations, nor does she intend to recognize them, or any subsequent ordinations based on them, in the future,» the Vatican affirms. «Hence the canonical status of the supposed bishops remains as it was prior to the ordination conferred by Archbishop Milingo.»

Citing Canon 292, the communiqué explains that dismissal from the clerical state implies the «loss of the rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy; prohibition of the exercise of any ministry, except as provided for by Canon 976 of the Code of Canon Law in those cases involving danger of death; loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical attire.»

«Consequently, the participation of the faithful in any future celebrations organized by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful,» the note says, adding that the Church «entrusts to the power of prayer the repentance of the guilty party and of all those who — be they priests or lay faithful — have in any way cooperated with him by acting against the unity of Christ’s Church.»

From Lusaka to Rome

Emmanuel Milingo, 79, was born in Mnukwa, Zambia. He was ordained a priest in 1958 and was named archbishop of Lusaka in 1969. He was 39.

Before being named archbishop, he had founded the Daughters of Zambia Helpers’ Society and the Daughters of the Redeemer.

In 1983, he was called to Rome to answer accusations of improper use of the powers of exorcism. The Pope accepted his resignation as archbishop and was transferred to the Vatican as a functionary in the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

Archbishop Milingo spent his time, however, organizing exorcisms and healing services, attended by thousands of faithful. Since these ceremonies were often emotional, with «reinterpretations» of the exorcism ritual, the Italian bishops prohibited Archbishop Milingo from holding them in their dioceses

As a result, the Zambian started holding the services in hotel reception rooms. It also led him to seek recognition of his work from the Unification Church.

In 1999, the archbishop was removed from his post in the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

In May 2001 — at the age of 71 — Milingo attended a group marriage ceremony with Maria Sung celebrated within Sun Myung Moon’s Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

Milingo met his future wife — a 43-year-old Korean acupuncturist — two days before the wedding. Although she was chosen by Unification Church founder Moon himself, Milingo said he regarded her as «a twin soul.» He said he had no idea where they would live.

Shortly after the ceremony Milingo visited Pope John Paul II in Rome and expressed his desire to return to the Catholic Church and leave Maria. The reconciliation was mediated by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, who at the time was an archbishop and the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

After a long period of spiritual retreat in Argentina, the archbishop returned to his ministry in the town of Zagarolo near Rome.

In 2006, the situation changed. After weeks of keeping out of the public eye, he appeared on July 12 in Washington, D.C., to announce that he would again be living with Maria Sung and would publicly contest priestly celibacy.

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