New York -- A Roman Catholic archbishop who says God wants him and the Catholic Church to shed the celibacy rule married a physician Sunday in a group wedding conducted by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, 71, was wed in a group marriage ceremony Sunday at the New York Hilton. The bride, chosen for him this week by Moon, is Marie Sung, 43, a physician from South Korea, said the Rev. Phillip Schanker, a spokesman for the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the central group in Moon's movement.
He said the newlyweds plan to move to Africa.
Milingo has long been at odds with the Catholic hierarchy, although he remains based in Rome and still carries his title. He said in a prepared statement that he had kept his priestly vow of celibacy since 1958 but has decided it's time for Catholicism to change.
"The sacrifice of celibate life has fulfilled its purpose. We enter the era when every man and woman is called to fulfill his or her original purpose to reflect God's image," he said. Milingo also stated: "I have no desire to leave the church that I love."
Asked at a news conference whether the church would now excommunicate him, Milingo said: "It doesn't affect me." He said he still considers himself a Catholic and that Moon's religious teachings are in line with the Bible, but the Vatican was expected to take action against him.
"I don't think I should comment on this until we hear something directly from Milingo," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.
Moon does not require those who take part in his wedding ceremonies to follow his religion.
Milingo was archbishop of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, when he ran afoul of the Vatican over his ministry of faith healings and exorcisms. He resigned under pressure in 1983, a very rare occurrence with an archbishop below normal retirement age and in good health.
Milingo then was brought to Rome as a functionary in the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, but continued public meetings of healing and exorcism. Last year, he was quietly retired from the post.
Most Roman Catholics consider Moon's doctrines well beyond the bounds of traditional Christianity. For instance, the church says Jesus was divine "but he is not God," and followers regard Moon as the messiah who is completing the salvation Jesus Christ failed to accomplish.
In each of the past two years, Milingo has appeared at group weddings conducted by Moon. The rituals, called "Holy Blessing Ceremonies," are a central practice of Moon's religion. Moon arranges the marriages personally.
Moon teaches that Jesus' ministry as messiah failed because of Jewish rejection and because he did not marry. Thus the "Lord of the Second Advent" must appear at the end of time and, with his wife, become ideal "True Parents." The faith teaches the second messiah was born in Korea around 1920, so the 81-year-old Moon fits the criteria.
Moon has been married twice and has 13 children. He moved from South Korea to live in the United States in 1973, and controls myriad nonprofit associations and business ventures.
His faith received bad publicity over allegedly deceptive recruiting tactics and panhandling by disciples while Moon lived in luxury. Moon blamed religious persecution when he was later found guilty of tax evasion and sent to federal prison for 11 months.