Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Zambia's rebel Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo defrocked

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and his wife in 2008
The ruling means the archbishop can no longer wear clerical vestments

The former head of the Catholic Church in Zambia, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, 79, has been defrocked by the Vatican.

He was excommunicated in 2006 for marrying and for attempting to ordain four married priests as bishops.

The Church said it needed to take further action because he went ahead and ordained some bishops in July, something only the Pope can do.

"Technically speaking he is now 'Mr' Milingo," Paul Samasumo, spokesman for Zambia's Catholic Church told the BBC.

"When he was excommunicated, what that meant was that he was suspended from his membership in the Catholic Church, but what has happened now is that he has been dismissed from the priesthood," Father Samasumo told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

The Church hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his ways
Vatican statement

"He cannot wear any of those vestments, conduct mass, cannot baptise anyone."

But the Vatican said his defrocking did not remove the obligation of celibacy.

A statement said the dismissal of a bishop was "most extraordinary" but had been necessary given the ordinations "carried out without pontifical mandate".

"Nevertheless, the Church hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his ways," it said.

His collision course with Rome began in the 1980s when his fellow bishops became uneasy about the popularity of his faith healing activities.

In 2001, he married a South Korean acupuncturist at a collective wedding ceremony organised by the Moonies in New York.

He has denied that he is a Moonie and after his excommunication said his mission was to be the apostle of married priests.

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