Pope to Bishop: Leave your wife or leave the church

New York Post/July 18, 2001
By John Lehmann

The Vatican has issued a public ultimatum to the maverick archbishop who got married in a Manhattan hotel - split with the woman or be excommunicated.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo was given until Aug. 20 to leave his new wife, sever his ties with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church and publicly promise to remain celibate. Catholic clergy are not permitted to marry, and they serve under a vow of celibacy. But Milingo, 71, is prepared to lose his church to keep his wife, an adviser here told The Post.

"His position is untenable," said the Rev. Phillip Shanka, who works with Moon. "I'm sure he has no interest in breaking his marriage." Milingo, who presided over the archdiocese of Lusaka (Zambia), married 43-year-old South Korean Maria Sung in May at the New York Hilton, two days after meeting her. She was selected by Moon to be Milingo's wife.

Milingo waited 40 days before consummating the marriage in South Korea this month, ending 43 years of celibacy, Shanka said. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which enforces Roman Catholic orthodoxy, said yesterday the church was obliged to proceed with excommunicating Milingo "for the good of the faithful."

The panel said the warning was made public because it did not know where to find Milingo to "invite him to reflect on the grave consequences of his conduct."

Milingo is expected to return from South Korea to New York with his wife today or tomorrow. She had to return to Korea last month because her tourist visa was about to expire. He has been invited to preach in several American churches.

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