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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 22:58 GMT 23:58 UK
Archbishop Milingo renounces wife
Followers of the Rev Moon protest at the Vatican over the missing archbishop
The archbishop finally spoke out after intense pressure
The Roman Catholic archbishop who scandalised the Vatican by breaking his vow of celibacy and marrying at a ceremony led by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, has bowed to the Church and publicly renounced his wife.

I love you as a sister, and I will continue to pray for you all my life

Archbishop Milingo
The Zambian cleric, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Lusaka, went on Italian TV to say he would still love his South Korean wife "as a sister" but had to "return to the fold".

It was the first time the archbishop had appeared in public in over two weeks and he read out what he said was an unsent letter to his estranged wife, Maria Sung, in which he explained why their marriage was over.

He's been drugged

Mrs Milingo
But Mrs Milingo, who is still on a protest hunger-strike in Rome, responded by saying she would fast to the death.

Lifetime of prayer

"My Mother the Catholic Church has appealed to me to return to the fold," the archbishop quoted from his letter, which he said officials from the Unification Church of the Reverend Moon had prevented from reaching Mrs Milingo.

Archbishop Milingo with his letter
The archbishop said his flock in Zambia needed him
As for his wife herself, he said: "I love you as a sister, and I will continue to pray for you all my life."

But it was impossible to marry again: "How can one resist this faith, this trust that the Holy Father showed me?"

Asked if he thought that his wife would understand, he said she was "not a girl - she's an adult".

Vatican accused

The 71-year-old archbishop was ending a sensational marriage which began with a group ceremony in May in New York led by the Reverend Moon at which he married Maria Sung, a 43-year-old acupuncturist.

The marriage provoked fury at the Vatican, which threatened to excommunicate the bridegroom.

Mrs Milingo, nee Maria Sung
Mrs Milingo's every move is covered by reporters
Archbishop Milingo had a personal meeting with Pope John Paul II on 8 August after which he disappeared from public gaze until his TV appearance.

For the bride, it is a clear case of the Vatican attempting to manipulate her husband.

"It's not possible, it's not possible," she told reporters after Friday's broadcast.

"He's been drugged, he's been drugged."

Mrs Milingo launched her fast to demand a meeting with her husband whom she said the Vatican had kidnapped.

She has now said in a radio interview that she will fast to the death and love the archbishop "for the rest of my life".

The BBC's Freya Michie
"His wife started a hunger strike ten days ago"
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
16 Aug 01 | Africa
Mrs Milingo prays for reunion
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