Archbishop Emanuel Milingo's Letter to the Vatican

from Rev. Phillip Schanker
Tuesday, 17 July 2001

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

Your Holiness,

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:

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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."
Luke 9:1-2