Vatican City – The Vatican announced Thursday the dismissal from the clerical state of a controversial Zambian-born archbishop who in 2001 broke his celibacy vow by marrying a Korean woman, and who was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 2006 when he ordained bishops without papal consent.
The decision strips Emmanuel Milingo of the ‘rights and duties attached to the clerical state, except for the obligation of celibacy,’ the Vatican noted.
These included prohibition of exercising any ministry, the loss of all offices and functions and of all delegated power, as well as prohibition of the use of clerical dress and attire.
The participation of the faithful ‘in any future celebrations organized by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo is to be considered unlawful,’ the Vatican added.
Stressing that the dismissal of a bishop from the clerical state is ‘most extraordinary,’ the statement said the Vatican felt obliged to act in this way due to the ‘serious consequences’ for Church unity and discipline, posed by the repeated unlawful consecrations carried out by Milingo.
‘Nevertheless, the Church hopes that Archbishop Milingo will see the error of his ways,’ the statement said.
Milingo, who became famous as an exorcist and faith healer, had in recent years made it his vocation to push for a married priesthood.
He maintained that only by allowing a married priesthood could the Church deal with a shortage of priests. According to some estimates there are at least 150,000 men who left the priesthood to marry and many want to return to the active clergy.
In 2001, Milingo, who once served as archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, stunned the Vatican when he disappeared and then showed up in New York, where he married Maria Sung, a 43-year-old Korean woman chosen for him by the South Korean-born evangelist Sun Myung Moon.
Milingo later left Sung, rejoined the Church and went into seclusion for a year of “rehabilitation” in South America. He returned to Italy and moved into a secluded convent near Rome.