Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo yesterday conducted his first mass in Zambia since being excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church two years ago and immediately started holding healing sessions expected to last up to Wednesday.
And the 77-year-old prelate has urged priests who have been excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church to join him and start serving the people.
Speaking to journalists after the interdenominational mass held at Masiye Lodge in Lusaka, Archbishop Milingo said priests who had been forced out of the Catholic Church should come out in the open and continue serving the Lord.
He said there were few priests hence the need for those who had been excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church to come forward and serve the masses.
He said when a priest was ordained; he could never lose the powers just as was the case with a person who had been baptised.
“Whatever the Church (Catholic) has been preaching is a lie. We can’t accept this. We are not a sect as we are claiming what is ours. They abused their authority by excommunicating us.
“We are coming back, Saint Peter was married, all of them were except John the evangelist. We are not a sect but just reminding you of your duties. You can’t just sit down. The priests should not fear excommunication. It does not exist. You are priests forever” Archbishop Milingo who was accompanied by his wife Maria Sung said.
In 2001, th e former archbishop of Lusaka stunned the Vatican when he disappeared and showed up in New York. There, he married Sung, a 43-year-old Korean woman chosen for him by the controversial South Korean-born evangelist Sun Myung Moon.
Archbishop Milingo attended a mass wedding in a tuxedo and kissed his white-gowned wife for the cameras in a ceremony in a hotel.
Archbishop Milingo later left Sung, rejoined the Church and went into seclusion for a year of rehabilitation in South America before he returned to Italy and moved into a convent near Rome.
But in 2006, he again went missing from the convent, turned up in Washington with Sung, and has been criticising the Vatican over its celibacy rule ever since.
Archbishop Milingo said any excommunicated priest who attended his mass service was forgiven of whatever sins he had committed.
He said celibacy was not part of the Church but merely an appendix fused in by some people who wanted to add prestige to priesthood.
“Milingo can’t be excommunicated, they can’t face me, they can’t discuss with me. I have been speaking to Jesus and he said to me that ni va chabe chabe (It’s nonsense), look at this nonsense Jesus told me,” he said.
And Archbishop Milingo has said his marriage life is going on well.
“You have seen how at ease she was during the mass. That is why these priests should bring t heir wives. If you are not married come out and marry. Then we will approve your marriage,” he said.
The mass was attended by two Anglican priests, Catholic Apostolic National Church Bishop Luciano Mbewe and some members of the United Church of Zambia.
Archbishop Milingo blamed the many wars across the world on religious intolerance and urged the Catholic Church to reconcile with married priests.
In a sermon the former Archbishop of Lusaka said the world would only enjoy peace if people exercised religious tolerance.
He said conflicts would continue across the globe as long as religions remained apart with each wanting to convert the other to their own faith.