Profile: Zambia's controversial archbishop

BBC News, Rome/October 2, 2006
By David Wiley

I first met Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo when he was suddenly sacked by the Pope and summoned to Rome in 1983.

He was archbishop of Lusaka and the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Zambia.

Some of his fellow bishops were uneasy about the popularity of his faith healing activities.

He used to carry out exorcisms at the local football stadium, and was accused by some of being a "witch doctor".

He was sent to Milan for psychiatric tests and given a desk job inside the Vatican so that his superiors could keep an eye on him but he soon revived his faith healing activities, attracting many Italians to his prayer sessions.


People used to write to him from all over Africa and from many other countries asking for his prayers for the sick.

I once attended one of his exorcism sessions in Rome which was attended by many thousands of believers.

I remember him telling me: "I am not a witch doctor. In Europe you have psychiatrists. In Africa we cast out evil spirits. Even Jesus did that."

But finally the Vatican clamped down on him and told him to restrict his faith healing activities.

Archbishop Milingo went off to America where he married an acupuncturist from South Korea, Maria Sung at a ceremony conducted by the Rev Sung Myung Moon of the Unification Church.

He came rushing back to Rome when summoned by the late Pope John Paul II to explain his actions.

He apparently decided to ask for forgiveness and at a news conference in a Rome Hotel said he was leaving his wife.

Catholic clergy are not allowed to marry.

He then spent some years under the supervision of a religious community near Rome, but was not very happy about the way he had been treated.

Now once again he is in hot water with the Vatican.

He returned to America and began to live again with the woman he married.

The new Pope has now formally excommunicated him, thrown him out of the Catholic Church, for ignoring church teaching and attempting earlier this month to consecrate four married priests in America as bishops.


But Archbishop Milingo refuses to accept his punishment, although he says he does not expect the Vatican to change its mind.

He is unlikely to come begging for forgiveness again to Rome.

The former Archbishop of Lusaka really believes that as an African he has some special gifts that he can offer to the Catholic Church.

He has written several books about his beliefs and at the age of 76 is unlikely to recant.

He will simply go his own way and ignore what Rome says.

And he says he now wants to spend the rest of his life back in Africa.

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