Protest at Vatican against disappearance of married archbishop
A small party of radicals protested at the edge of St Peter's Square yesterday against the Vatican's seclusion of a Zambian archbishop who shocked the Church by marrying a South Korean woman last year, then backed out of the marriage after being threatened by excommunication.
Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo was married in a group ceremony in New York led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in May 2001. Milingo later agreed to heed Pope John Paul II's appeal to abide by the priestly vow of celibacy, and then disappeared from public view.
"We don't know where Milingo is. But the real problem is that his followers, the people who love him, and whom he loves haven't known for a year where to find him," said Radical Party secretary Daniele Capezzone. "I hope it's a voluntary period of silence and prayer, but I fear it's something else. I fear he's not a free man."
Police did not interfere with the tiny group of protesters — some with signs reading "Free Milingo" — who set up their demonstration on the perimeter of St. Peter's Square. The demonstrators said they wanted to defend the rights of Milingo and his followers, and protest the lack of transparency in the Roman Catholic Church.
"The cover of silence kept by the Vatican bureaucracy is the sign of something," said Marco Cappato, a member of the European Parliament. "It is a sign of the fear that the Church has when it has to deal with sexuality."
The Vatican has refused to say where Milingo is, although reports have said he may return to public view by September.
Last week, a Zambian political leader threatened to ban Catholicism in the country unless Milingo returned to the country. Paramount Chief Mpezeni suggested that Milingo was being held abroad against his will.
The Zambian government has said it received assurance from Catholic officials that Milingo is "alive and well."
Vatican envoy explains Milingo's condition (15/8/02)
Archbishop Milingo expected to return to full ministry (4/6/02)
Archbishop 'a virtual prisoner of Vatican' (3/7/02)
His Grace Archbishop Milingo
21 Aug 2002