Vatican releases Milingo's letter to refute his wife's claim it's fake

Cleveland Plain Dealer/August 16, 2001
By Nicole Winfield

Vatican City - The Vatican yesterday released what it said was the signed, handwritten letter of a married archbishop who decided to leave his wife and return to the Catholic church.

The release was designed to refute suggestions by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo's wife that the Vatican had fabricated the letter or pressured Milingo to write it.

The single-page letter, written in Italian, was signed "Milingo" and corresponded to a typewritten transcript released a day earlier by the Vatican.

In it, Milingo said he had decided to recommit his life "in the Catholic church with all my heart, renounce my living together with Maria Sung and my relationship with the Rev. [Sun Myung] Moon and the Family Federation for World Peace."

The letter to Pope John Paul II was dated Aug. 11. The hand writing appeared to be similar to a document written by Mi lingo that was displayed earlier this week by a Moon spokes man. Milingo, 71, scandalized the church when he married Sung, 43, a South Korean doctor, in a mass wedding held by Moon on May 27.

The Zambian archbishop has said celibacy is poisoning the priesthood and God's blessings were meant to be given through the family. Milingo and Sung have dodged questions about whether the marriage was actually registered in New York City.

Moon doesn't sign any marriage licenses and leaves it up to individual couples to decide whether to register them legally, said a Moon spokesman, the Rev. Phillip Schanker.

Sung also refused to comment yesterday when asked whether she had been married previously, as some reports have suggested. Milingo met with the pope Aug. 7 to explain his reasons for getting married.

The visit came after the Vatican threatened to kick Milingo out of the church if he didn't leave Sung by Aug. 20, sever his ties with Moon's movement, publicly promise to remain celibate and "manifest his obedience to the Supreme Pontiff."

After the meeting, the Vatican suspended its excommunication threat while talks continued.

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