Renegade archbishop Milingo excommunicated: Vatican
VATICAN CITY – A renegade African archbishop who wanted the Vatican to allow priests to marry has been automatically excommunicated after he ordained four married men as bishops, the Vatican said on Tuesday.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo made world headlines in 2001 for getting married himself in Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church at a mass wedding in a New York hotel. His union was never recognized by the Catholic Church.
The Vatican said he finally went too far when he ordained the four married men as bishops on Sunday in Washington D.C.
“For this public act, Archbishop Milingo as well as the four ordained men have incurred the excommunication latae sententiae,” the Vatican said in a statement.
Excommunication — which forbids excommunicates to receive the sacraments or share in acts of public worship — is usually “ferendae sententiae,” imposed as punishment.
But offences, including heresy, schism, laying violent hands on the Pope and procuring abortion, are considered so disruptive of ecclesiastical life that they trigger automatic excommunication, or “latae sententiae.” “The Holy See has patiently witnessed the evolution of the events which, unfortunately, have led Archbishop Milingo to a state of irregularity and progressive open break from communion with the Church,” the Vatican said in the statement.
Milingo could not immediately be reached for comment and did not post any response on his Web site, www.archbishopmilingo.org.
The former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, went missing in June from a convent south of Rome where he had been living in near-seclusion for the past four years. He resurfaced in the U.S. capital in July, holding a surprise news conference to announce that his new mission was to persuade the Vatican to allow priests to marry. “Currently on the sideline, there are approximately 150,000 validly ordained priests. But these priests are married. The majority of these priests are ready and willing to return to the sacred ministry of the altar,” Milingo’s Web site reads. “It is our mission to find a way to reconcile these married priests with the Church.”
The Roman Catholic Church insists that its priests remain celibate and has ruled out letting them marry as a solution to the shortage of priests in many parts of the world.
The Vatican lashed out at Milingo, saying he had “sown divisions and concern among the faithful.”
Milingo previously disappeared in 2001 and showed up in New York, where he married Maria Sung, a 43-year-old Korean woman chosen for him by the controversial South Korean-born evangelist Moon. He attended the mass wedding in a tuxedo and kissed his white-gowned wife for the cameras at the Unification Church ceremony in a New York hotel.
Milingo later left Sung, rejoined the Catholic Church and went into seclusion for a year of rehabilitation in South America before he returned to Italy and moved into a convent near Rome.