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Vatican issues ultimatum to married archbishop

The Vatican on Tuesday threatened to excommunicate an archbishop married in New York earlier this year in one of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's mass weddings.

Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo has been given until 20 August to leave his new wife, sever his ties with Moon's movement, publicly promise to remain celibate and "manifest his obedience to the Supreme Pontiff". If he doesn't, he will be excommunicated, according to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"The Church, obliged as she is to proceed to this painful action for the good of the faithful, does not cease to pray to the Lord, the Good Shepherd, for the desired return of the archbishop," the congregation said in a statement.

The 71-year-old archbishop was married on 27 May in a group ceremony at a New York hotel. His bride, 43-year-old Maria Sung, was selected by Moon, as is customary in Moon's movement, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

After his wedding, Milingo said he had "no desire to leave the church that I love". He said he'd kept his priestly vow of celibacy since 1958 and still considered himself a Catholic but had decided the church needed to change.

"The sacrifice of celibate life has fulfilled its purpose," he said.

The congregation said it decided to make the warning public because it did not know where to find Milingo to "invite him to reflect on the grave consequences of his conduct."