Maverick archbishop launches campaign for married priests

 The controversial former Catholic archbishop of Lusaka, Emmanuel Milingo, has turned up in the United States of America, announcing a new mission to end celibacy for priests. Archbishop Milingo - who married in 2001 before the church dissuaded him to change his mind - is reported to have disappeared from his home outside Rome three weeks ago. The 76-year-old prelate resurfaced in Washington, USA, on Wednesday. His host, according to the latest media reports, is Archbishop George Augustus Stallings Jr who left the Catholic Church in 1989 when he married and set up his own church, Imani Temple. The Associated Press quoted Milingo saying that his new mission is to persuade the Vatican to allow priests to marry. "I feel it is time for the church to reconcile with married priests," Milingo said at a surprise news conference. He appealed to priests punished for marrying (whom he estimated to be 150,000 worldwide) to "come out of their Catholic prisons and be reinstated, taking once more their pastoral responsibility among the married priests." The archbishop said he is not leaving the church but wants to change it. "My position is very clear in my understanding of my ordination by the church. Once a priest, always a priest," Milingo said. "Even though a priest can renounce his vows and be defrocked by the church, the church avows that he always remains a priest." A Vatican source told Reuters that church officials were "shocked" by Milingo's new outburst and said disciplinary measures could be announced soon. In 2001, the former archbishop of Lusaka stunned the Vatican when he disappeared 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. Milingo later renounced Sung, saying his action was wrong, and returned to the church. In a book called "Fished out of the Mud," published four years ago, Milingo said the Moon Church may have brainwashed him. The Holy See Press Office released the following statement yesterday: "The Holy See has not yet received precise information concerning the aim of the journey to the United States of America by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia. "In any case, if the declarations attributed to him concerning ecclesiastical celibacy were to prove authentic, the only thing to do would be to deplore them, Church discipline on this matter being well known." Source: VIS/CISA

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