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Vatican regrets marriage of Archbishop Milingo

The Zambian archbishop who married an acupuncturist in a group wedding conducted by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon can no longer be considered a bishop, the Vatican said on Monday.

The Holy See published an official statement to express its "sorrow" over the case of Emmanuel Milingo. On Sunday, the 70-year-old former archbishop of Lusaka married 43-year-old Marie Sung in a ceremony at the New York Hilton.

"Obviously, the Holy See has heard with profound sorrow about the action taken by the archbishop, Monsignor Emmanuel Milingo," Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said in a written statement. "By participating in the public rite of marriage of the Moon sect, he has, in fact, placed himself outside the Catholic Church, and has caused grave injury to the communion that bishops especially must manifest to the Church."

The Vatican statement continued: "Hence he will not be able to be considered as a bishop of the Catholic Church, and the faithful are requested to draw the appropriate conclusions from his behaviour and actions, which constitute the premise for the expected canonical sanctions, which will soon be communicated to him and then made public."

After the wedding ceremony, Milingo told the press that the threat of excommunication meant "nothing" to him.

Milingo met his future wife two days before the wedding. Although she was chosen by Unification Church founder Moon himself, Milingo said he regarded her as "a twin soul".

Meanwhile the exorcist of the Diocese of Rome, Fr Gabriele Amorth - a longtime friend of Milingo - said: "Reconstructing the last years of his life, we realize that the Moonies have hunted him mercilessly. We have even identified the people who kidnapped him; they have brainwashed him. It is an Italian family in particular, which has disappeared with him in the United States."