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Saturday, 11 August, 2001, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Married archbishop 'set to rejoin Church'
Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and his bride at mass wedding in May
The marriage brought threats of excommunication
By David Willey in Rome

The Vatican has announced that Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the former head of the Roman Catholic Church in Zambia, under threat of excommunication for breaking his vow of celibacy, intends to return to full communion with the Church.

The controversial archbishop married a Korean woman in New York last May at a mass wedding organised by the religious sect known as the Moonies.

Meanwhile, at a news conference in Rome, his wife has threatened to go on hunger strike unless the Vatican allows her to communicate with her husband, who is under Church protection.

Korean Maria Sung Milingo has not seen her husband for a week
Mrs Milingo: Wants to know where her husband is
The Vatican's watchdog department, which deals with heretics and schismatics, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, released a statement in Rome.

It said the African archbishop, as a result of being personally reminded by Pope John Paul II last Tuesday of his responsibility towards God and the Church, is now spending a period of reflection and prayer with a view to full reconciliation.

After the meeting with the Pope, the Vatican backtracked slightly on an ultimatum it had issued, giving the archbishop until 20 August to renounce his new wife and pledge his allegiance to the Pope.

No time limit now exists.

Hunger strike

But Mrs Maria Sung Milingo, the Korean doctor who the archbishop married last May at a ceremony organised by the Reverend Sun Yung Moon in New York, appeared at a news conference later in the day denouncing the Vatican for not allowing her to get in contact with her husband.

Mrs Milingo threatened to go on hunger strike unless the Vatican tells her where her husband is.

It is a human rights matter, she said.

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon
The Rev Moon regularly celebrates mass weddings
The Vatican is treating the case of the married African archbishop with some caution.

The Pope fears that if Archbishop Milingo, who has a considerable personal following as a faith healer, breaks with the Church, he could go off and found a new sect which allows priests to marry.

Church sources say some priests in Africa are already breaking the celibacy rule, to which the Pope officially allows no exceptions among the Catholic priesthood, except for a very small group of former Anglican priests.

See also:

07 Aug 01 | Europe
'Moonie' archbishop meets Pope
28 May 01 | Americas
Vatican disowns 'Moonie' archbishop
24 Nov 00 | Europe
Vatican lays down exorcism law
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