- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2001

VATICAN CITY — Archbishop Emmaneul Milingo, whose marriage in violation of his priestly vow scandalized the Vatican, has agreed to meet with his wife after a two-week spiritual retreat, the Vatican said yesterday.
Archbishop Milingo, 71, "will meet Maria Sung to communicate his decisions to her," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.
However, questions were raised over terms for the meeting.
The archbishop's wife, Maria Sung, a 43-year-old acupuncturist, said that Vatican had set conditions, including one that was unacceptable: that a mediator from each side be present.
The Vatican, meanwhile, said it had not set any conditions. Mr. Navarro-Valls said Archbishop Milingo had made the decision to meet with her and set the conditions himself "in total liberty."
"The Holy See cannot and does not want to impose anything upon the conscience of the archbishop," the Vatican spokesman said. He did not say when the couple would meet.
Maria Sung's spokesman, the Rev. Phillip Schanker of the Unification Church, said the Vatican had agreed Tuesday to a private meeting, then backed away from that commitment. He said the Vatican had set six conditions for the meeting but — aside from the demand that a mediator be present — would not disclose what they were.
"We are extremely disappointed," said Mr. Schanker, an official of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Movement.
The South Korean ambassador to the Vatican has been trying for days to arrange a meeting between Archbishop Milingo and his wife, who has been on a hunger strike since Aug. 14.
"Maria is fasting for one purpose — for a private meeting with her husband. Nothing else can be discussed," said Mr. Schanker. He declined to say what other conditions were set out by the Vatican, but said they were all negotiable. "If a private meeting is agreed upon by everyone, I hope it occurs tonight, so that this woman's suffering and this embarrassment and misunderstanding can end," he told a press conference in Rome.
Archbishop Milingo and Maria Sung were married at a May 27 group wedding in New York, conducted by Rev. Moon. She said she had not heard from the archbishop since Aug. 8, the day after the Zambian archbishop met with Pope John Paul II. The Vatican had threatened to excommunicate him unless he renounced the marriage. Earlier this month, the Vatican released what it said was a handwritten, signed letter from Archbishop Milingo in which he said he had decided to return to the church and leave his wife.
The Vatican has not disclosed the archbishop's whereabouts, saying only that he is on a retreat, and that he should be left alone to pray.


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