Zambian Archbishop officially returns to church

ROME, Aug 14, 01 ( - Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo has officially returned to the fold of the Catholic Church, the Vatican said on Tuesday, and he has renounced his three-month-old marriage and his relationship Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church.

The Vatican released a letter the 71-year-old Zambian archbishop sent to Pope John Paul II announcing his decision on Saturday. In the letter, Milingo said he was recommitting his life "in the Catholic Church with all my heart, renouncing my living together with Maria Sung and my relationship with the Rev. Moon and the Family Federation for World Peace."

He added, "Your words: 'In the name of Jesus, come back to the Catholic Church' were both a call to my home Church and a paternal order to live out my faithfulness and obedience to you, Christ's representative on earth."

Milingo came under the threat of excommunication after he married Sung, a South Korean woman, in a mass wedding conducted by Moon on May 27. The archbishop subsequently said the act was intended to pressure the Church to change her teachings on the celibate priesthood. Milingo also expressed admiration for Moon, a self-styled Messiah who claims he is completing the salvific mission left incomplete by Jesus Christ.

On Monday, Sung began a hunger strike until she was allowed to meet with her husband, contending that the Vatican was holding Milingo against his will, while officials said the archbishop was on a spiritual retreat. She also suggested that she was pregnant. Sung and Milingo arrived together in Rome last week and Milingo went alone to meet with Pope John Paul II at his summer residence.