- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2006

SADDLE BROOK, N.J. (AP) — The Vatican is demanding an African archbishop whose marriage scandalized the Roman Catholic Church to end his new campaign for optional celibacy or lose his authority in the church.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo said the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops has demanded that he send a letter of repentance by Oct. 15 to Pope Benedict XVI or face “canonical suspension.”

“Your behavior, activities and public statements during these past few months are completely contrary to the obligation of every bishop,” Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re wrote in a letter to the archbishop that the latter showed to the Associated Press.

“In the name of Jesus Christ, I beg you to reflect seriously on your behavior and all its consequences.”

Archbishop Milingo, 76, who in 2001 married Maria Sung, a South Korean acupuncturist the Rev. Sun Myung Moon chose for him, said he will continue to lead Married Priests Now. The group is holding a strategy meeting in New York City that ends today.

Before the event’s opening dinner, Archbishop Milingo celebrated Mass for the men and their wives. The archbishop’s wife, wearing a name tag that read “Mrs. Maria Milingo,” helped him clear the makeshift altar afterward.

The Vatican said Archbishop Milingo violated church law when he created “the so-called ‘Married Priests Now’ association” and when he previously celebrated Mass with married clergy.

A “canonical suspension” would bar Archbishop Milingo from ordaining priests, leading Mass and performing other sacraments, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit writer and specialist on the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Milingo renounced the union four months after his marriage after Pope John Paul II made a personal appeal. But Archbishop Milingo said he grew frustrated by restrictions on his ministry, so he fled Rome.

In July, he reappeared in the United States to announce his new organization. He says he now lives with his wife in the Washington area.

Some American advocates for married priests have kept their distance from Archbishop Milingo because of concern over his ties with Rev. Moon’s Unification Church.

In a packet of statements the archbishop distributed to the conference participants, he said he traveled to the Korean Peninsula this year “to join the many Catholics and Catholic married priests who are in the Unification movement.”

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