Bishop in or Catholicism out

AP, Aug. 15, 2002

Lusaka – A Zambian chief threatened to ban Catholicism in his territory unless a former local archbishop who broke his vows last year by marrying, returned to the country.

Paramount Chief Mpezeni suggested earlier this week that Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo (71), who once led the diocese in Zambia’s capital Lusaka, was being held abroad against his will.

Milingo was married in a group ceremony last year in New York led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Threatened with excommunication, Milingo later announced he was heeding Pope John Paul II’s appeal to abide by the vow of celibacy, and then disappeared from public view.

Catholic officials have refused to release details about Milingo’s current whereabouts, but say he has been given a church to oversee in Italy. He was also said to be at work on his autobiography.

The Zambian government has said it received assurance from Catholic officials that he is “alive and well.”

One Zambian official said that Milingo was finishing up a one year retreat and would soon be returning to Zambia.

Mpezeni, who belongs to Milingo’s ethnic group, the Ngoni, called for Milingo’s immediate release and threatened to outlaw Catholicism in his districts, where about 500 000 people live.

It was unclear whether the chief had the power to carry out such a threat in Zambia, home to large Catholic population.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday August 16, 2002.
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