Lusaka, Dec. 28, 2007 (CWNews.com) – An African cleric with ties to the excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo has announced the formation of a new sect, known as the Catholic Apostolic National Church of Zambia.
“We feel duty-bound now to found our own Catholic Church,” said Luciano Mbewe, a former Catholic priest who now identifies himself as an archbishop. Launching a broadside attack on clerical celibacy, he said that the new group would allow priests to marry.
Archbishop Milingo, a native of Zambia, was excommunicated in September 2006 after he directly defied Vatican orders and ordained four married men as bishops. Since his break with Rome he has vigorously pursued his personal campaign for an end to clerical celibacy, ordaining married men in several different countries. Married Priests Now, the group led by Archbishop Milingo, has evidently received important financial backing from the Unification Church founded by the self-styled Korean preacher, Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
The Vatican has frequently expressed concern about the potential influence of Archbishop Milingo’s campaign, and the confusion that could arise with the emergence of bishops who profess to be Catholic leaders although they are not in communion with Rome. In November 2006, shortly after the excommunication of the troubled African prelate, Pope Benedict XVI (bio – news) convened a special meeting of the Roman Curia, devoted to a discussion of “the situation that has arisen following the disobedience of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.”
A spokesman for the Zambian bishops’ conference, Father Paul Samasumo, told the AllAfrica news service that the episcopal conference would discuss the emergence of the new sect at a meeting in January.