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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Reprieve for maverick archbishop
Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and his bride at mass wedding in May
Archbishop Milingo says future decisions will be taken with his wife
The Roman Catholic Church has suspended its threat to excommunicate the former archbishop of Lusaka for marrying in a mass ceremony in May this year.

A Vatican statement issued after a surprise meeting between the Pope and Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo said the matter was complex and lengthy discussions were needed.

Mr Milingo, who took part in the wedding held by the South Korean Unification Church known as the 'Moonies', had been given an ultimatum to separate from his South Korean wife by 20 August and reaffirm his vow of celibacy.

But the Zambian archbishop said any decision on his future had to be taken in conjunction with his wife.

Leniency

A spokesman had earlier told the Associated Press news agency that he had sought a meeting with the Pope to explain to him why he thought priests should be allowed to marry and have children.

Rev Sun Myung Moon
Reverend Moon led the mass wedding ceremony
"He has started having conjugal rites," he added.

His wife Maria Sung is a doctor and their wedding ceremony was led by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in New York.

The 71-year-old archbishop has long been regarded as a maverick by church officials, but up to now he has been treated with what many in the church regard as leniency.

Archbishop Milingo has enjoyed widespread popularity and grassroots support. In 1983, he ran foul of the Vatican for carrying out faith healing and exorcisms, and resigned as the Archbishop of Lusaka under pressure

Pastoral care

He was then brought to Rome, to assist with the pastoral care of migrants. But while in Rome, he continued to provide faith healing services on a private basis.

But his marriage to the 43-year-old Miss Sung - who was selected for him by Reverend Moon - broke not only the vows of celibacy required by the church, but took place in a religious setting that the Vatican does not recognise.

See also:

24 Nov 00 | Europe
Vatican lays down exorcism law
13 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Moonies' mass wedding
10 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
10,000 to wed in stadium
03 Feb 00 | Americas
Moonies aim to score with Brazilians
28 May 01 | Americas
Vatican disowns 'Moonie' archbishop
07 Aug 01 | Europe
'Moonie' archbishop meets Pope
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