VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A Zambian archbishop who married an acupuncturist in a group wedding conducted by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon can no longer be considered a bishop, the Vatican said today.
The Vatican published an official statement to express its “sorrow” over the case of Emmanuel Milingo. On Sunday, the 70-year-old former archbishop of Lusaka married 43-year-old Marie Sung in a ceremony at the New York Hilton.
“Obviously, the Holy See has heard with profound sorrow about the action taken by the archbishop, Monsignor Emmanuel Milingo,” Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said in a written statement.
“By participating in the public rite of marriage of the Moon sect, he has, in fact, placed himself outside the Catholic Church, and has caused grave injury to the communion that bishops especially must manifest to the Church,” Navarro-Valls stated.
“Hence,” the Vatican statement continued, “he will not be able to be considered as a bishop of the Catholic Church, and the faithful are requested to draw the appropriate conclusions from his behavior and actions, which constitute the premise for the expected canonical sanctions, which will soon be communicated to him and then made public.”
After the wedding ceremony, Milingo told the press that the threat of excommunication meant “nothing” to him.
Milingo met his future wife 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.
The Holy See had been very tolerant with Milingo until the final break.
In 1983 John Paul II transferred Milingo 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 spectacles in several dioceses without the bishops´ permission, particularly in Italy. But he was never punished with ecclesiastical sanctions.
A year ago he was asked to resign his pontifical-council post. Out of respect for his person, the Vatican continued to pay his salary, and to give him a home and a Vatican passport.
One of Milingo´s friends, who works in the Vatican, as well as Vatican representatives in the United States, tried to contact him last week. However, Moon´s sect kept him segregated and inaccessible.
Milingo got involved with the 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.
According to friends, Milingo became friendly recently with a Chinese doctor living in Rome, who belongs to the Moon sect. Milingo went to him for a cure for leg pains.