- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 30, 2001

ROME (AP) — A Roman Catholic archbishop met with his South Korean wife for the first time in three weeks yesterday and told her he couldn't stay married to her because of his commitments to the church, the Vatican said.
Emmanuel Milingo and Maria Sung, whose marriage had outraged the Vatican and led to fears he would be excommunicated, met at the Michelangelo Hotel in Rome. He delivered a letter to her explaining his reasons for leaving her, the Vatican said.
"My commitments in the life of the church, with celibacy, don't allow me to be married," Archbishop Milingo said in the handwritten letter, a copy of which was sent by the Vatican to news organizations. "The call from my church to my first commitment is just."
The Zambian archbishop said he was aware of his wife's suffering.
The two were married May 27 in New York by Rev. Sun Myung Moon in a group wedding.
The Vatican had already been incensed with Archbishop Milingo for his exorcisms and faith healings.
Maria Sung, 43, hadn't heard from the 71-year-old archbishop since Aug. 8, the day after he met with the pope in a bid to avert his excommunication.
The Vatican hasn't disclosed his whereabouts since then, saying only that he has been on a spiritual retreat.
Last week, Archbishop Milingo announced he had left his wife, telling national television that he had embraced the pope's appeal to return to the church.
She said at the time she didn't believe him and suggested that he had been drugged. She had been on a hunger strike for 16 days to press her demand that the Vatican let her see Archbishop Milingo face to face.
The case not only embarrassed the Vatican but also raised concerns that Archbishop Milingo, once the head of the Lusaka, Zambia, diocese, might break from the church and consecrate his own noncelibate bishops.
Before announcing his return to the church, Archbishop Milingo had said celibacy was poisoning the priesthood.
The Turin daily La Stampa reported yesterday that Maria Sung had been married to an Italian man before marrying Archbishop Milingo. A Sung spokesman, the Rev. Phillip Schanker, said he knew nothing about that.


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