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Zambian archbishop excommunicated

 Zambian archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, has been excommunicated two days after ordaining four married men as bishops. A Vatican statement said he had been automatically excommunicated under church law because of his actions. Archbishop Milingo, 76, who now lives in the US, performed the ceremony in Washington DC on Sunday.

The Washington diocese immediately declared the installations to be invalid. Archbishop Milingo has long been a controversial figure in the Catholic Church. In 2000, he married a South Korean woman at a mass wedding in New York organised by the Korean-based Unification Church - the so-called "Moonies".

He was later persuaded by Pope John Paul II to renounce the marriage, but has since rejoined his wife. The Zambian preacher was nominated archbishop of Lusaka at the age of 39, a post he held for 14 years before a disagreement with the Vatican over his activities as a healer and an exorcist. He was recalled to Rome in 1983 but managed to keep his rank of archbishop. Milingo soon gained a strong following in Italy when he began holding exorcism services in the church he was assigned to in Rome. After a long silence, Mr Milingo announced earlier this year that his new mission was to persuade the Church to allow priests to marry.

The Vatican said in a statement: "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."