The Words of the Schanker Family

Rome Reflections

Phillip Schanker
August 13, 2001

What an amazing, incredible day! This experience is like living the reality of the Coronation Ceremony, experiencing the supreme power of God's Providence, knowing that no power, not even the gates of hell, shall prevail against God's will. I (each of us) have no idea who I am, standing upon the foundation of TP & God's providence, offering prayers to God in my own name. It is not that there is not danger, or that we are close to victory ... this may be a long and dangerous fight. Every day, followers of Msgr. Milingo call us, as well as priests, lawyers, and others. "Why are you being so soft?" they say. "They have him!" Don't even question it for a moment! They held him for two years in the 80s. He wrote his autobiography and testimony of how they held him prisoner, and all the books were soon removed from all over Italy. All their words are just to buy time!" Or ... "why don't you go to the police? This is a simple case of a missing person." Or ... "you must denounce them!"

But when we ask these people to stand with Maria, they say ... "I have a family to think about ... " One journalist writing an article for the 8/21 issue of "Oggi" magazine [This week's has something as well, but I hope you can find it next week. People are finally beginning to grasp what Arch. Milingo is trying to do], said, "do you realize who it is you are fighting? He went on, as many have, to describe a history of horrendous crimes ...

Many may be wondering how this could have happened, but you should know that it was clear to Father, elder leaders, and the Archbishop himself that he had to go alone into the situation to meet the Holy Father ... He told his wife & others that he was going into danger, that he was ready to die, etc. "Trust me," he said. Before getting into the car in Milan with his ultimate kidnappers [whom he had insisted were the only ones who could get him to the Pope on his terms. normally conditions for reconciliation & repentance are required before the many gate keepers would ever open the front door to the Pope], His Grace oddly, but profoundly took off his priestly garb, exchanging it with Rev. Oliver's green polo shirt, which he obviously was wearing for several days after. He took off the great golden cross that he always keeps around his neck, and pressed it into Rev. Oliver's hands. This, plus his urgent and only phone call two days later, and his clear public statements, say a lot.

The newspapers are filled with photos, now, of Maria Milingo in tears, or praying at St. Peter's Basilica. The tone of the entire coverage has changed. The focus was once upon the evils and dangers of "la Secta Moon." Now, the words "moonie" or "munisti" and "secta" are slowly fading away. People (women especially) are beginning to identify with Maria's loyalty and suffering. And we are cultivating relationships with reporters covering the story, who will often share important information with us, while we provide scoops to them in return.

Today, some odd & profound things happened. We began to hear from our sources yesterday that the Vatican was trying to contact Maria. By the evening, we knew that a Korean-speaking representative was soon to come. Suddenly this morning, more disinformation popped up. One paper quoted Vatican sources as saying that the Archbishop had called his wife to break his marriage [completely false, and no one called to confirm the report]. The headline was something like, "I will see you again, but not as husband and wife." But this effort, like Saturday's attempt to undermine the Press Conference with a statement of purported repentance from the Archbishop, failed completely. People just don't believe it anymore, especially since it is always someone else speaking for His Grace [and different people, at that!] These efforts get drowned in the ocean of coverage that follows Mrs. Milingo everywhere. Some papers are beginning to report on the clumsy job the church is doing in trying to clean up this mess.

Then, this AM, the Vatican delegation arrived with a purported message from the Archbishop. But we knew from sources that their intention was to convince her to give up & leave the country. Maria refused them, saying she wanted to meet her husband face-to-face. I thought sure that they might have something to show, some signature, some credible message from His Grace, and expected they would show it publicly. But they disappeared, and we have heard nothing further.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Milingo went to St. Peter's Square & Basilica to pray, and was completely mobbed by some 70 media. Now the story has broken through to the international press, who now follow the story. Because the event had been announced, national and Vatican police swarmed the entrance to the square, to control the press and assist (yes, assist!) Mrs. Milingo. Besides these officials, there were 5 or 6 well-dressed plainclothes guards, with the spirit of Secret Servicemen, who were so cooperative, so willing to work with our every request, they were almost parental. They allowed Maria into a special area of the Basilica, closed to general public, in order to pray. As we departed through a side entrance to the square, with hungry media waiting to gobble us up, I took time to shake these special people's hands, one by one, as they pointed out their leader. "Are you with the Vatican?" I asked. "We are from the Holy Father, the Pope," they answered.

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