The troubled Zambian prelate arrived in Rome with Maria Sung, the woman to whom he was joined in a group wedding ceremony held in New York in 2001 under the direction of Rev. Myung Moon, the head of the Unification Church. Milingo had not been in Rome since June 2006, when he disappeared from the residence where he had been living quietly outside Rome, and surfaced in Washington, DC, at a press conference to denounce clerical celibacy.
Since that time, the archbishop has been traveling the world, campaigning for a married Catholic priesthood– apparently with the financial support of the Moon sect.
In September 2006 the Vatican announced that Archbishop Milingo had been excommunicated, after he ordained four married men as bishops in defiance of orders from the Holy See. But the disciplinary action failed to deter the African archbishop, who has continued the illicit ordinations.
In Rome this week, Milingo offered reporters a typically eccentric comment about his canonical status: “Excommunication does not exist,” he said; “not since the Second Vatican Council.”
During a 3-week stay in Italy, Milingo said that he will work on a book. He is scheduled to appear at a press conference launching another author’s work: Confessions of the Excommunicated, by Raffaella Rosa.
Archbishop Milingo– who had lived near Rome for more than 20 years without a pastoral assignment, after his erratic behavior led the Vatican to ask for his resignation as Archbishop of Lusaka– told reporters that he has “many beautiful memories” about his life there. “I consider Italy my second home,” he said.