Archbishop Milingo Resurfaces, Hosted by Ally of Rev Moon

John Gorenfeld’s blog on the Unification Church is back in business, with a note on the recent re-surfacing of Roman Catholic Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Zambia. Milingo, who has been controversial for years over his emphasis on exorcism, hit the headlines in 2001 after marrying Unificationist Maria Sung in a mass wedding and separating from her soon afterwards. Last month he went missing from his home in Rome, and a few days ago the AP reported that he had appeared in public in Washington. There he made a speech imploring the church to accept married priests:

Milingo, 76, appears now to be back with his wife, although he said Monday, “This is irrelevant.”

…He estimated that 150,000 priests are in that position around the world – about 20,000 in the United States – and said half would be willing to return to active ministry if invited.

…His host in Washington, Archbishop George Augustus Stallings Jr., said, “I excommunicated myself from the church” in 1989 when he married and set up his own church, Imani Temple.

Gorenfeld adds some important context here:

The AP report downplays the exciting identity of Milingo’s partner in connubial rebellion. That would be de-frocked Catholic Archbishop Augustus Stallings, whom Reverend Moon gave a gold watch…in exchange for loyal service, including hosting the coronation of Moon on Capitol Hill in 2004 (see it here, and read the AU report on Stallings here.) American National Catholic Church). Some resources on Stallings have been brought together on a Unificationist website.

One slight clarification is needed: Stallings was never a Roman Catholic Archbishop; he was a Catholic priest, and his subsequent ecclesiastical promotions came through the Independent Old Catholic Church (although one source claims it was the American National Catholic Church).

But why would Stallings be hosting Milingo, when the Zambian has repudiated Rev Moon? Following his separation from Sung and return to the church, Milingo gave an book-length interview to Italian journalist Michele Zanzucchi. A summary appeared in the Tablet in 2002; it includes the following details:

Milingo says some disciples of Sun Myung Moon sought him out with invitations to speak at their conferences. The time he was allotted gradually grew, as did his audiences; soon he was leading mass healings in the packed theatres he had so missed.

…Milingo confesses to “a serious ignorance” about the Moonies; he knew only that they were rich and had mass weddings. He saw the [Family Federation for World Peace and Unification] as an interreligious organisation – his audiences were made up of Buddhists, Muslims, as well as Christians.

…Later he would realise he had “fallen into a trap, and the shock was greater than I had imagined”.

…In order to be appointed an official preacher to the Catholics in the organisation, he was told, he would have to be married in the Moonie rite to a wife selected by Moon himself. “I agreed because, in my stupidity, I thought that this way I could do good.” He was not drugged or hypnotised, he says.

…Meanwhile, the Moonies had plans: to found a well-financed parallel Catholic Church in Africa, autonomous from Rome, with its own hierarchy headed by Milingo. “I would not have gone along with the plan,” says Milingo, who was becoming more and more depressed. “One day, one of the last I spent with Maria Sung, the situation I found myself in seemed so absurd that I raised to God a desperate prayer, whose last words were something like, ‘Let me die, Lord, let me die.'”

A Guardian report adds that Milingo claims to have had a document outlining the details of the proposed African church, but that it “mysteriously disappeared from his suitcase on his return to Italy”.

The Tablet report includes the unfortunate claim that

…The final part of the Milingo drama came in early October 2001.

Not quite. Just the intermission, it seems.

UPDATE: Much more from Milingo, in an interview in the National Catholic Reporter.