ROME, SEPT. 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo says he was the victim of a conspiracy by the sect of Sun Myung Moon, who organized the prelate’s supposed marriage to a Korean woman last year.
“I was in no way the one who sought out Reverend Moon. It was his own disciples,” the archbishop says, in an autobiography to be published by Edizioni Paolini.
Indeed, the Zambian archbishop believes he was the victim of a kind of brainwashing. “Later, I realized I had fallen into a trap,” he writes.
Archbishop Milingo confirms the reports that circulated in May 2001, following the “marriage” organized by the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. “They had the idea of developing their presence in Africa by founding a parallel Catholic Church,” he said.
Archbishop Milingo wished to confirm the revelations made in his book with a signed letter, a copy of which appears in the book. It is an interview that “I wished to grant to shed light on the truth, with no gray areas,” he explained.
The book, “Fished out of the Mud,” will be published within the next few days in Italy. The newspaper Avvenire published excerpts today.
The now 72-year-old archbishop’s “marriage” to 43-year-old Maria Sung — who turned out to be already married — took place during a mass wedding presided over by Moon in a New York hotel. The sect orchestrated the ceremony in an attempt to attract Catholic faithful.
Now, from his residence in an Argentine house of the Focolare Movement, Archbishop Milingo said his first contacts with Moon took place in the “hope of being a bridge between the Church and the organization,” about which, he admitted, he knew very little.
It was the moment when his “exasperation” reached a climax, due to the isolation he experienced in the Catholic Church, he said. In fact, Archbishop Milingo had been transferred from the Archdiocese of Lusaka to the Vatican, where he was appointed a consultor of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.
Moon’s followers forced the marriage, the archbishop stated, and he accepted. He says he is uncertain whether he was under the influence of drugs. “I still don’t understand why I made that decision,” he says.
The archbishop declined to speak about the 72 days he spent with Maria Sung. He did say, however, that at one point he asked God to let him die.
Archbishop Milingo said two Italian friends help him with his “escape” from the sect. Afterward, he went to Castel Gandolfo to meet John Paul II.
“It was very beautiful,” the archbishop recalled. “He did not accuse me of a thing. He said to me solemnly: ‘In the name of Christ, return to the Catholic Church.'”
Following those 20 minutes, the archbishop “felt at home, again. At that moment, I understood all my errors,” he said.
He then spoke with Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a key figure in the whole affair.
Then he visited the Pope again and, after giving some last explanations to Sung, went on spiritual retreat for a few months, first in a house on the outskirts of Rome, and then in Argentina. He plans to return to Italy within a few weeks.
“I was saved at the edge of the precipice,” Archbishop Milingo said. He said he has discovered that many people “offered prayers and sacrifices, imploring God for my return. I didn’t know that my brothers and sisters all over the world loved me so much.”