Sun Myung Moon marries Roman Catholic archbishop in group wedding

NEW YORK — A Roman Catholic archbishop who says God wants him and the Catholic Church to shed the celibacy rule married a Korean physician Sunday in a group wedding conducted by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, 70, was wed in a ceremony Sunday at the New York Hilton. The bride, chosen for him this week by Moon, is Sung Ryae (Anna) Soon, 43, a physician from Korea, said the Rev. Phillip Schanker, a spokesman for the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the central group in Moon’s movement.

He said the newlyweds plan to move to Africa.

Milingo has long been at odds with the Catholic hierarchy, although he remains based in Rome and still carries his title. The archbishop was expected to talk about breaking his celibacy vows after the group nuptials for some 60 couples.

Milingo will then issue a statement making clear that “he’s not leaving the church or disassociating from the Catholic tradition,” Schanker said. Moon does not require those he marries to be followers of his religion.

However, it seems likely the Vatican would take action if the archbishop goes through with the ceremony.

“I don’t think I should comment on this until we hear something directly from Milingo,” Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

Milingo was archbishop of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, when he ran afoul of the Vatican over his ministry of faith healings and exorcisms. He resigned under pressure in 1983, a very rare occurrence with an archbishop below normal retirement age and in good health.

Milingo then was brought to Rome as a functionary in the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, but continued public meetings of healing and exorcism. Last year, he was quietly retired from the post.

Moon’s doctrines are well beyond the bounds of Roman Catholicism and the rest of traditional Christianity. For instance, the church says Jesus was divine “but he is not God,” and followers regard Moon as the messiah who is completing the salvation Jesus Christ failed to accomplish.

In each of the past two years, Milingo has appeared at group weddings conducted by Moon. The rituals, called “Holy Blessing Ceremonies,” are a central practice of Moon’s religion. Moon arranges the marriages personally.

Moon teaches that Jesus’ ministry as messiah failed because of Jewish rejection and because he did not marry. Thus the “Lord of the Second Advent” must appear at the end of time and, with his wife, become ideal “True Parents.” The faith teaches the second messiah was born in Korea around 1920, so the 81-year-old Moon fits the criteria.

Moon has been married twice and has 13 children. He moved from Korea to live in the United States in 1973, and controls myriad nonprofit associations and business ventures.

His faith received bad publicity over allegedly deceptive recruiting tactics and panhandling by disciples while Moon lived in luxury. Moon blamed religious persecution when he was later found guilty of tax evasion and sent to federal prison for 11 months.

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