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Vatican releases Archbishop's marriage renunciation letter

The Vatican released a letter on Wednesday which it said had been written by Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo in which he promises to renounce the wife he married in a mass wedding in New York in May and to renew his devotion to the Catholic Church.

The release of the handwritten letter, addressed to Pope John Paul II and dated 11 August, angered the woman he married, 41 year old Korean acupuncturist Maria Sung. Ms Sung is accusing the Vatican of holding him against his will.

Ms Sung also insists that her husband has been coerced by the Pope and his officials into turning his back on the marriage and embracing the church again. She returned to pray in St Peter's Square on Wednesday on the second day of a hunger strike. She has also indicated she may be pregnant.

The letter appeared to be in the archbishop's handwriting. Signed "Milingo", it said he will recommit his life "in the Catholic church with all my heart, renounce my living together with Maria Sung and my relationship with the Rev [Sun Myung] Moon and the Family Federation for World Peace".

Rev Phillip Schanker, who is a spokesman for Mr Moon, cast doubt on the letter, a typewritten version of which was released by the Vatican on Tuesday. He suggested it had been written "under duress" by the archbishop. "We'll respect whatever he wants, but we're not convinced this is what he wants," he said. "Let him stand up in front of the world and talk to the world."

Archbishop Milingo travelled to Rome to explain himself to the Pope last week after the Vatican threatened to excommunicate him if he did not break from his new wife by 20 August.

Independent (London)