The Words of the Milingo Family

Contentious Movement Credits Reverend Moon - Married Priest Cites the Leader's 'Utmost Support'

Rachel Zoll
December 10, 2006
Associated Press

PARSIPPANY, N.J., Dec. 9 -- The renegade Roman Catholic archbishop who was excommunicated by the Vatican after he installed married priests as bishops acknowledged Saturday that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was supporting his crusade against mandatory celibacy.

At a weekend conference of about 150 married priests and their wives, Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo distributed a statement to participants headlined "Thanks," crediting the Korean evangelist for his backing for the meeting and for Milingo's Married Priests Now advocacy group.

"Today we are present as beneficiaries of Rev. Moon," Milingo wrote. "In order to ensure the success of our convocation he dedicated his key organizations to give their utmost support in every way needed to the Married Priests Now."

In a mass Unification Church wedding in 2001, Milingo was married to a Korean acupuncturist Moon chose for him. The archbishop later heeded pleas from the Vatican to renounce the marriage and return to Rome.

When Milingo disappeared from Italy this year, resurfacing in the United States in July, he and his aides denied any link with Moon. They said they were fighting on their own to save the church from its clergy shortage and from sex-abuse crises, which they blamed on the expectation of celibacy.

However, at this weekend's meeting, Milingo overflowed with praise for Moon.

"I have witnessed the zeal of Rev. Sun Myung Moon for the realization of the Kingdom for God," Milingo wrote. "His concern for the welfare of the whole world makes him not only a world benefactor, but more importantly a person whose vision, humility and saintly life has awakened our own courage and determination to organize and do what we ourselves know is right from God."

Vatican officials have been scandalized by Milingo, trying to privately persuade him to drop his campaign, then openly censuring him when that effort failed.

After the church excommunicated Milingo, Pope Benedict XVI convened a summit last month that the Vatican said examined "the situation created by the disobedience of Monsignor Emmanuel Milingo." The gathering ended with an affirmation of mandatory celibacy for clergy.

Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan, a married priest whom Milingo made a bishop in September, acknowledged that the tie to Moon would provide more fodder for discrediting Married Priests Now.

Many consider Moon's doctrines beyond the bounds of traditional Christianity.

His followers regard him as "Lord of the Second Advent," who is providing the "physical salvation" that Jesus was unable to accomplish because he was executed and did not marry. Moon says Jesus gave only "spiritual salvation."

Brennan and others insisted Moon was not directing their movement, which they said remained wholly Catholic.

"He's not involved," Brennan said. "He shows an interest because of the family aspect."

Asked why Milingo was acknowledging the link now, Brennan said it does not harm the movement to work with people "who may be controversial in their faith."

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