Vatican verifying reports of archbishop's intentions to marry a Moonie
The Vatican said on Saturday it was waiting for self-styled Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo to clarify his intentions after the church of Reverend Sun Myung Moon said it would preside over the bishop's marriage to a Korean.
An official Vatican source said Milingo, a controversial faith healer who also practices exorcism, would be automatically excommunicated if the marriage went ahead, but made it clear the issue was not a criticism of Reverend Moon or of his followers.
"We are still waiting to hear directly from him to see what his intentions really are," Chief Vatican Spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told Reuters. "This is a problem between the Catholic Church and one of its bishops ... We really can't respond directly until we talk to him."
He had said earlier the Holy See hoped reports of the planned marriage were not true.
A spokesman for Reverend Moon's Unification Church said earlier in New York that Milingo would marry a Korean doctor on Sunday in a ceremony presided over by Moon. But the spokesman stressed that Milingo was not converting to a new faith.
"This is not a conversion. He is not joining another church," Reverend Phillip Schanker said. "He is absolutely not resigning from the Catholic Church and is deeply committed to the church," he said.
Milingo has presided at colourful masses and meetings where he has sometimes carried out impromptu exorcisms. In September last year Milingo, a Zambian who moved to Rome in 1983, was quietly stripped of his job in a Vatican department. In November, the Vatican issued strict new rules aimed at curbing unauthorized exorcism and faith healing.