VATICAN CITY, JULY 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Excommunication looms for a one-time African archbishop who went through a marriage ceremony presided over by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in May.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a note ordering Emmanuel Milingo, archbishop emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia, “by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff” to “separate from Maria Sung,” and “to sever all links with the sect, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.”
Milingo, 71, civilly married Sung, a 43-year-old Korean acupuncturist, in a group wedding led by Moon at the New York Hilton.
After the May 27 wedding, Milingo told the press that the threat of excommunication meant “nothing” to him. He had met his future wife two days before the wedding. She was chosen by Unification Church founder Moon himself. Following the wedding, the Vatican said that Milingo could no longer be considered a bishop.
In its note, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered Milingo “to declare publicly fidelity to the doctrine and ecclesiastical discipline of celibacy, and to manifest his obedience to the Supreme Pontiff by a clear and unequivocal act.”
The Holy See established Aug. 20 as the date by which the archbishop must repent or face excommunication.
The Holy See had been tolerant with Milingo until the May wedding. In 1983 John Paul II transferred him to Rome, for his inappropriate use of exorcism powers and his role in causing divisions in the Lusaka Archdiocese. The Pope appointed Milingo a “special delegate” of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.
Milingo continued to hold exorcisms and other events in dioceses without bishops´ permissions. Last year he was asked to quit his Vatican post. Out of respect for his person, the Vatican continued to pay his salary, and to give him a home and a Vatican passport.
Milingo got involved with Moon´s sect some years ago. He participated in mass marriages organized by the sect in Japan in 1999, and in Korea in 2000. On that occasion, he was severely reprimanded in writing by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
In its note, the Vatican congregation wrote: “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, after mature reflection and by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff, and fulfilling its responsibility for protecting faith and morals in the life of the Church, finds itself obliged to proceed in accordance with Canon 1347-1 of the Code of Canon Law, in order to protect the faithful from the serious harm caused by the recent behavior of the Most Reverend Emmanuel Milingo, Archbishop Emeritus of Lusaka.”
The Holy See has tried in vain to contact Milingo since the May wedding ceremony.
In May, he published a statement saying, “At 71 years, after a life of devotion to the Church and my priestly vows, the Lord has called me to take a step that will change my life forever.”