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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 17:52 GMT 18:52 UK
Married archbishop 'returns to Vatican'
Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo marries Maria Sung in a Moonie ceremony in May
Mr Milingo's marriage caused problems for the Church
A controversial Catholic archbishop is to give up the wife he married in a ceremony conducted by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, the Vatican has said.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, 71, married South Korean doctor Maria Sung in May in a mass wedding typical of the religious movement known as the Moonies.

But after a personal meeting with Pope John Paul II, Mr Milingo is reported to be "renouncing my living together with Maria Sung and my relationship with the Rev Moon", according to a letter released by the Vatican.

I am your humble and obedient servant

Archbishop's letter to pope
Mrs Sung, meanwhile, says her husband is being held against his will and has gone on a hunger strike until she is allowed to see him.

Ms Sung, 43, told reporters on Monday she might be pregnant by the prelate.

Ready to die

Ms Sung said she began fasting at midnight on Tuesday and vowed to die if Archbishop Milingo renounced their marriage.

The Vatican threatened to excommunicate Archbishop Milingo after news of his marriage became public.

Pope John Paul II
The pope met Milingo personally
Speaking to reporters outside Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, Ms Sung told reporters: "If he [Archbishop Milingo] decides that this is no longer real then I'm ready to die. As a spirit, I will be near him."

Italian media reported Ms Sung said she was not aware before the wedding ceremony that Catholic bishops were not allowed to marry.

No sightings

Archbishop Milingo, originally from Zambia, has not been seen in public since the couple held face-to-face talks with the pope at his Castelgandolfo summer residence.

The Vatican has not disclosed Archbishop Milingo's whereabouts, other than to say he "had decided to pass a period of reflection and prayer ahead of his full reconciliation" with the Catholic Church.

Maria Sung
Mrs Sung said she did not know priests cannot marry
Mrs Milingo has said she will not take a pregnancy test until she is reunited with the archbishop.

She said she was worried that the results would be used against her no matter what they were.

"If it comes out positive, people will say I am using it to get him back and if it is negative, there is a risk they will just let me go."

Mrs Milingo said the risk her hunger strike posed to any unborn child was "secondary" to her concern for her husband.

She said she planned to pray for the archbishop at the Basilica every morning to ask for him to be returned to her.

Vatican officials have said little publicly about the affair amid fears the case could lead to a breakaway movement of followers loyal to the charismatic archbishop, who they have struggled to control for decades.

The BBC's Bill Hayton
"She is so desperate to be reunited with her husband that she is now on a hunger strike"
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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