The text of Archbishop Milingo's personal letter to the Pope following his marriage, preceded by a short cover statement accompanying its release to the media today:
This personal letter is one of several communications that Archbishop Milingo sent to the Vatican during the last 40 days. They were sent by mail (to the Holy Father's office directly), by fax (via the Secretariat of State & the Press Office), and through personal delivery by the Archbishop's staff and friends in Rome. No reply has been received to any of the communications, despite the furnishing of fax numbers, phone numbers, and a mailing address as well. In the meantime, His Grace's supporters have been treated severely, and cut off from all contact with him. All attempts by the Archbishop to encourage and assist his former congregations, or respond to their concerns, have been blocked or impeded with threat of sanction. All efforts to seek an audience with the Holy Father have been ignored.
Now, the Vatican has issued a public ultimatum, despite the assurance of spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls to communicate privately to Archbishop Milingo first (ZENIT, May 28, 2001), claiming that they do not know how to reach him. Clearly, they continue to use the media to discredit and misrepresent the Archbishop, as well as seek public support for their position. Monsignor Milingo cannot even be sure that the Holy Father is aware of his letters.
For this reason only, His Grace has asked that this private letter, greeted with silence by the Vatican, be made public. With apologies to the Holy Father, he conveys this letter to you. He will be available for interviews after his return to the United States later this week from Korea, where he is visiting his wife's family and making preparations for their future life together.
June 10, 2001
His Holiness John Paul II
Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
I appreciate the efforts you made in attempting to contact me in New York on the 25th-26th of May, just before the interfaith marriage blessing. I know that the action I have taken is both surprising and difficult to understand, but I assure you that I am acting out of my deepest faith in Jesus, and my undying love for the Catholic Church. I pray for your understanding and assistance as I seek to find the path of reconciliation and unity with the church that I love. Please be assured of the following:
- The charge that I have been brainwashed, controlled, or possessed by the very devils I have fought is pure rubbish. Such silly accusations are intended to accomplish two things: to discredit me (and the ministry God has given me), and to avoid the issues and questions I am raising. Since 1973, when God called me to fulfill the very command our Lord gave to his apostles in Luke 9:1-2, I have been criticized, scandalized, investigated, exiled, and made a stranger and a fool in my own mother church. The phenomena that occur when I say mass (phenomena which I did not seek and cannot explain) have led to my being boycotted and banned. Any priests who concelebrated with me have been punished. Meanwhile God has remained with me, the people continue to cry out, and the church has me bound, gagged, and on the shelf. Shall I be silent? Must I abandon God's call and go home to my village? It is ironic that after years of trying to stifle and hide me away, such as to make me useless to the church, I am now of such great concern.
- My decision to marry is not, as some have implied, due to concupiscence. At 71 years of age, as I am, the sexual stimulus is at its lowest ebb. It is wrong to compare me, as the media has, to clerics who have raped, or impregnated, or simply fallen in love. I am marrying for God, moved by the deepest desire to bring purity and honesty to the faith by addressing the grave moral sins that have wounded and weakened the Catholic clergy. If there is any way that Rev. Moon has influenced me, it is in helping me to see the holy and salvific role of marriage and family, and its necessity for healing society. Now some 80% of the cases before the tribunal in Rome have to do with broken families. I can do much good for the church by bringing this ministry to the fore. For this reason alone, I acted not in darkness or secrecy, but in the open, in front of God and humanity. Sexuality and spirituality, divorced for so long in church tradition, must be reconciled. My vow of fidelity to my wife in front of God is not a step down from celibacy, it is a step higher.
- I have done nothing to negate my communion with the church or its bishops. My vow of celibacy is as yet intact, and will remain so as I observe 40 days of purification and offering before the consummation of marriage. My partner and I are reliving the state of Adam and Eve, as brother and sister, dedicating our union to God's work and glory, and she is in fact learning the ways of my faith. We are at the same time expiating our own personal past sin in the same line. I pray the rosary each day for the Holy Father, and continue to experience the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Considering the canonical issues of the marriage, the symbols of wine, water and vows we shared are not unlike traditional weddings all over the world, which can later be sacramentized by the church, as my parents' wedding was. I am hopeful to find a way to strengthen, not diminish the church; to renew and empower, not embarrass the faith.
In light of these facts, I am determined to find the way, if at all possible, to work within the confines of the Catholic Church. I have two requests of your Holiness:
- To delegate His Eminence Cardinal Egan, or the Vatican Representative at United Nations to rectify the marriage situation according to Catholic Rite, and release me from celibacy. Although it is my personal conviction, during those 40 days, that I am much more put to trial on this issue.
- I am receiving many invitations from major Christian churches and organizations, which honor my position in the church. I am received as a leading Catholic Archbishop, who is walking a path, both biblical and inevitable. Both the World Bishops' Council and CORPUS, the organization of married ex-priests and nuns have reached out to me. I am invited to speak in several of the largest African-American churches in the United States.
It seems to me that I can be helpful in such a position. I want to do all I can for ex-priests and ex-bishops, to lead a dignified life, reconciled to the Catholic Church. I pray to find a way that I can move again in the Catholic circles, and still represent the Holy Church as a Catholic Archbishop.
I seek now what has been denied me for some time: an audience with your Holiness. I am seeking that "Sanatio Matrimonii" may be done before consummation, which should heal every canonical aspect.
Your humble servant,
Archbishop E. Milingo
"Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick."