Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the Catholic cleric who upset the Vatican in 2001 by taking a South Korean acupuncturist as his bride in a mass wedding organized by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, yesterday announced the formation of a new ministry to persuade the Roman Catholic Church to allow priests to marry.

Surrounded by several former priests, who are now married, at the National Press Club, Archbishop Milingo, 76, couched his challenge to Rome in conciliatory language. “To our beloved mother church, we beseech you to open your arms to these prodigal children who have longed to return home and have so much to offer,” he said. “There is no more important healing than the reconciliation of 150,000 married priests.”

He said several impoverished former priests “are selling doughnuts in the street. Some have become vagabonds. These people were popular with their churches. They just wanted to go back to their origin as human beings.”

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, presiding over the Roman Catholic Diocese of Washington, called the Milingo announcement “a surprise and a disappointment,” and noted that he had earlier reconciled to Pope John Paul II “concerning a number of matters that earlier [he] had disputed.”

Archbishop Wuerl quoted the Catholic catechism that sets out that priests accept “with a joyous heart celibacy [that] radiantly proclaims the Reign of God.”

The first synod of bishops held under Pope Benedict XVI last October acknowledged a shortage of priests but rejected changing church doctrine to allow priests to marry.

The former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, Archbishop Milingo renounced his marriage to Maria Sung four months after participating in the mass nuptials and returned to the embrace of Rome. He has since been under what he characterizes as church-enforced house arrest in Zagarolo, outside of Rome.

He “escaped,” he said, in early June, when several nuns overseeing him thought he was taking a siesta. He left, following the belongings and personal effects he had been sending outside the compound for several weeks, and left his room keys on an altar.

The Vatican tried to find him, asking officials in Zambia to help. He came to Washington on June 25 and has been aided by the Rev. George Stallings Jr., who was suspended from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington in 1989 after he organized his own church, the Imani Temple, on Capitol Hill. He appointed himself archbishop of the new denomination.

Archbishop Stallings said yesterday that Archbishop Milingo has not been reunited with Mrs. Sung but expects to be soon. He said the group has elaborate plans for the new ministry and that wives of priests will make public appearances in the future. The couple will stay in Washington until the archbishop’s visa expires in six months, and then return to Zambia.

Archbishop Milingo was a rising star in the Catholic hierarchy and the charismatic movement until 1983, when he was recalled to Rome because of concerns over exorcisms and healing. He was assigned before his marriage to a lesser post overseeing Vatican policy concerning immigrants and refugees.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide