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Zambian bishops express sorrow at former archbishop's defection

Zambia's Catholic bishops have issued a statement inviting all Christians to continue praying for the former Archbishop in the hope that "he will decide to repent and come back to the Church".

They expressed "deep sadness and pain" at Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo's decision to marry a Korean acupuncturist in New York at the weekend and join the Unification Church.

The statement said: "For a long time we have tried to reach out to Archbishop Milingo, who has unfortunately rejected our regular and honest advice. Other people in the Church, including the Holy Father, have tried to reach out to him, but he took this advice as a form of persecution (Mt 18:15-17)."

They said his decision put himself outside the Catholic Church, and "implies that he is no longer a Bishop nor part of the Catholic Church".

The bishops expressed "deep sympathy" for the "many people who put their trust in the former Archbishop and now feel betrayed and abandoned by his action". They said the action of the former archbishop is a "reminder to us of our own fragility in faith", and the challenge for those who trusted him now is to "make a right choice by committing themselves to follow Jesus Christ, who has the words of eternal life".

Zenit (available soon)