The Words of the Schanker Family
Maria Milingo Press Conference and Statement
August 11, 2001
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The following statement was read today (Saturday) by Mrs. Milingo, in Italian, which surprised and moved many people. She broke down in tears several times during her reading, and had to leave the room afterward to regain her composure before returning to answer questions. She maintained a wonderful balance, raising serious questions without attacking the Catholic Church directly.
Those who oppose us, however, were in fact worried about this press conference, and sought to undermine or deflate it. Soon after we hastily announced the press conference for that very afternoon, one of them called to ask if he could come to our Press Conference. Having been caught in several exaggerations and lies, and embarrassed in the press by the FFWPU response to their propaganda, I am sure that they were nervous about the potential impact of Maria Milingo's Press Conference.
Despite our welcome, he did not show up. Pity........... we had questions ready: "If you speak for Milingo, why do you say the opposite of everything he has said in public?" or, "If you are his spokesperson, how can you say you don't know where he is?, etc.
More serious, but not surprising, was the effort of the V---- to upstage & weaken Mrs. Milingo's outcry by claiming that her husband was renouncing his marriage, etc. Once again, it was a claim that could not be backed up. "Spokesman" Bisantis had promised on Thursday that the Archbishop would leave his wife, return to his former position and make a "big announcement" the next day. Friday came, no announcement, and suddenly Bisantis said that the Archbishop was going into seclusion for 15-20 days! (of course, no sight of the Archbishop himself).
Therefore, I was not surprised when, 15 minutes before the press conference, I received a report that a Vatican spokesperson had told one newspaper that Milingo was about to renounce all that he had done in the last three months. But no followup came. Instead, right before the beginning of the conference, a written statement was released from the Vatican that Milingo instead was going into a long period of seclusion, in preparation for "full reconciliation." This term refers to the Archbishop doing all that the church demands. But the circumstances make it clear that the Archbishop is not cooperating. And of course, he has disappeared from sight.
The announcement of Maria Milingo has been all over Italian TV, and will certainly be on the cover of every newspaper tomorrow. Especially powerful his her declaration that she will soon begin to fast until she meets her husband, or until death. AP, Reuters and Agence France Press covered her announcement internationally. The AP story gives the Vatican announcement a bit more play than it should, but the Italian coverage has been just incredible, as more and more people begin to identify with the tears and pain of Mrs. Milingo.
Already the Vatican has released another statement, expressing sympathy for Ms. Milingo, but claiming that the Archbishop requested seclusion. Then why can't he announce it? The fact remains that the only thing the public has heard from his mouth is that he is no longer alone, & must consider his wife and make all decisions with her... and he wants to talk with her.
Today was very successful, but we are in a life & death war with a formidable, powerful enemy. members all over the world are praying, fasting and receiving deep inspirations about the struggle between Adam & Eve (the Blessed Archbishop & spouse) and the Archangel.
Brothers & sisters, we have a plan for each day to come, and will not let up the pressure. This is a human rights issue, and more & more are gathering who want to speak out. Please pray for the captive, who went into this situation ready to die, and for his wife, who shares his determination. You will find the statement below...
Love & prayer, Rev. Phillip Schanker
Statement by Mrs. Maria Milingo Wife of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo
August 11, 2001
On May 27, 2001, I was married to His Grace, the Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo in an interfaith ceremony in New York, with 60 couples of religious leaders from many different faiths, officiated by Reverend and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. Although neither of us had dreamed that we would share our future together, we both have a deep faith in God, and have completely offered our marriage to serve His will. In the nearly three months that we have been together, we rise each morning before dawn for prayer, we study God's word, and my husband teaches me many things about the ways of his faith.
I know that my husband feels a deep sense of mission for Africa, and to bring healing and blessing to the people of Italy, Europe and the world. He has not forgotten the many thousands who love and support him in this country and elsewhere. He wants to fulfill his mission in the Catholic Church, despite many painful experiences he has told me about. Archbishop Milingo knows that wherever he goes and whatever he decides to do, I will follow him with all my heart.
My husband is a wise, loving man with a joyful and giving spirit. Everyone who is near him long enough comes to feel his warm heart and simple humility. That is why so many people love him so very much. He is a strong man, disciplined by many years of priestly life and unafraid to follow God's will no matter where it leads him. He is a righteous man, chosen by God for holy work. He has suffered so much, and been so misunderstood. I only want to help him fulfill his mission, to support him and take care of him. He has a deep and living relationship with Jesus, and he married only because the Lord guided him to do so.
As we departed for Italy, my husband warned me that we would face a difficult situation, but that I must trust him. Most of all, he promised to protect me from any danger. When we arrived in Milan last Monday, we were greeted by Ms. Alba Vitali, as we had planned. Ms. Vitali invited me to be her guest at the Villa Malpensa Hotel, and promised to be in touch soon. Then she and my husband left to see the Holy Father, as he had told me they would. But I have heard nothing from Ms. Vitali for 5 days. I was abandoned and ignored by her. When I called her at her home yesterday, just to ask how to reach my husband, Ms. Vitali hung up the phone, refusing to speak with me.
I have remained in prayer and at peace until now, because I believe in my husband, and that he is following God's guidance. But whenever we are apart, my husband is so concerned to keep in close touch with me. This time, however, I have heard from him only once, on Wednesday. He told me to leave the hotel in Milan, and go to a safe place. He told me he was facing a difficult fight, and that he was not free to talk, but would call back soon. That's the last I heard from him, except when I saw him on TV. And there, from his own mouth, I heard him say, just as you did: "I am no longer single. I must consider my wife. She is not a rag, but a human being with rights." He said we would decide everything together, and that he wanted to meet me. I believe what my husband said.
But then my husband disappeared from public view, and someone else now says that he speaks for Archbishop Milingo. Mr. Maurizio Bisantis said my husband wants to leave me, and return to the Catholic Church. But my husband never left his Catholic faith. Mr. Bisantis said my husband would make a big announcement yesterday, but my husband never appeared. Now Mr. Bisantis says he will be in seclusion for 15 or 20 days. But my husband would NEVER disappear without saying anything to me. I do not believe Mr. Bisantis. I want to see my husband. My husband wants to see me. Why won't they tell me where he is? Why won't they let me see him?
Mr. Bisantis said he rescued my husband from America. That is a lie. He said that I went back to America, leaving my husband to face this alone. This is also untrue. If Mr. Bisantis is doing God's work, why does he have to lie? I called him, asking for my husband, but he did not answer his phone and did not respond to my messages. If my husband wants to see me, and that's what he said every time he has appeared, then why won't they let him? I do not believe Mr. Bisantis. I do not believe he speaks for my husband at all. I do not believe Ms. Vitali. I believe my husband. I want to see his face, to hear his voice. If he does not want to be with me, then I want to hear it from his own lips. He would NEVER leave me without a word.
I am afraid that my husband is not free to speak with me. Mr. Bisantis and Ms. Vitali said that Archbishop Milingo is in the care of the Holy See. I am asking the church that my husband loves to tell me where he is. Let him come to me. I have not seen him in almost a week, and I am afraid. My husband asked them to respect my rights, but why won't they let him see me?
If the church will not let me see my husband, then I will begin to fast until they do or until I die. I will wait no more than 3 days, maybe less. My husband told me that he would give his life to protect me. But I don't know where he is, and I am afraid for what is happening to him. So now, I am willing to give my life to find him. I ask the church for mercy. I ask the church for justice. I ask the church to let me see my husband. I implore the Holy Father, whom my husband risked everything to come and see, to intervene so that my husband and I can make our decision together.
Now I ask you, the members of the media, to help me find him. Ask Mr. Bisantis, ask Ms. Vitali: where is Archbishop Milingo? They know where he is and what is happening to him. But they will not tell me. If you have any respect for the rights of my husband and I, please help us. Many have told me to go to the police, but I prefer to ask the Catholic Church to be true to the Christian faith it professes. I love my husband, and he loves me. If necessary, I am ready to give my life to find him.
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