Associated Press, Tuesday, September 17, 2002
VATICAN CITY – A Zambian archbishop who was threatened with excommunication for marrying a South Korean woman in a group ceremony led by the Rev. Emmanuel Milingo made the revelations in a book that has just appeared in Italian bookstores, ahead of his expected return to Italy next month after a year in seclusion in Argentina.
Milingo embarrassed the Vatican last year when he married a South Korean acupuncturist in the group ceremony. Milingo renounced the marriage after a personal appeal from Pope John Paul II.
His latest assertions do not seem to have upset the Vatican, at least on the official level. Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, a top Vatican official, told Vatican Radio on Tuesday that Milingo had reconciled with the Church after a year of spiritual retreat.
Milingo is “fully reconciled with the denied claims from some of Milingo’s supporters that the African was being kept against his will by the Vatican.
Milingo discusses the last year of his life in the Italian-language book, “The Fish Which was Fished Out of the Mud.”
In it, Milingo said he “wanted to provoke shock” by marrying Maria Sung after his removal from a Vatican post where he had attracted large crowds of people who sought faith healing.
He said the removal had left him feeling isolated and that his requests to meet with the pope “were lost in the ceremonial bureaucracy” of the Vatican.
Milingo said Moon’s followers approached him and he saw a “solution to my state of isolation.”
Milingo was summoned to Rome in 1983 after resigning from his post as archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, for performing faith healings and exorcisms. After thousands of people flocked to Rome seeking cures for AIDS and cancer, the Vatican removed him from his post there.
In the book, Milingo did not address whether he had sex with his bride, who was almost 30 years younger. Saying that Moon sect rules call for the first 40 days of marriage to be chaste, Milingo said the two went on a honeymoon in Korea “which wasn’t exactly sweet.”
The Vatican has said Milingo will take up residence in Zagarolo, a Rome suburb where a wealthy follower has found him a villa.
Despite past problems with the archbishop, the Vatican appears resigned to Milingo’s popularity.
Bertone said God gave Milingo “a charisma … with particular attention to the sick, and thus to suffering people of every kind.”
In the book, Milingo recalls his face-to-face encounter with the pope, who convinced him to renew his vow of celibacy.
He says that as he was about to meet with the pope, he wondered “what sins he would have pointed out in my behavior.”
“Instead, the pope didn’t discuss anything with me, he didn’t accuse me of anything. I greeted him, he indicated that I should sit down and then he told me solemnly, `In the name of Jesus Christ, return to the Catholic Church.’ That’s it. He didn’t add anything else.”