Milingo Wife Accepts Divorce

The Korean wife of a Roman Catholic archbishop has accepted his decision to dissolve their marriage and return to the church.

Maria Sung married Emmanuel Milingo in a ceremony organised by Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the head of the Unification Church movement. But the union caused outrage in the Catholic church and Milingo, former head of the Zambian diocese in Lusaka, was threatened with excommunication unless he chose his faith ahead of his wife. Earlier this month the archbishop travelled to Rome for an audience with Pope John Paul II, followed by his wife, after which he disappeared and was said to be considering his position.

On Thursday Sung told reporters: "For the great love for my husband, I'll respect his decision to leave me. But that does not change the feeling I have for him in my heart." She said she would never be with another man and would try to support Milingo in his work throughout her life, saying she hoped they would be reunited "in the afterlife." Milingo had given her a rosary as a parting gift, Sung said, and "expressed love to me as a brother to a sister."

Milingo announced he had left his wife in a television interview last week, saying he had embraced the pope's appeal to return to the Catholic church and keep his vow of priestly celibacy. Sung, who at one point believed she was pregnant, refused to believe his television revelations.

She claimed he had been drugged and went on a hunger strike for 16 days demanding that the Vatican allow her and Milingo to meet face-to-face. The couple were reunited on Thursday for three hours at the Arcangelo hotel in Rome, accompanied by a host of Vatican officials, where he gave her a letter explaining his reasons for dissolving the marriage.

"My commitments in the life of the church, with celibacy, don't allow me to be married," the letter said. "The call from my church to my first commitment is just." Sung's spokesman, the Reverend Phillip Schanker, described the three-hour meeting as "wonderful."

"Both of the them expressed a lot of love for each other," Schanker told reporters outside the hotel. "We all learned a lot of important things. Everyone present was crying."

It was not immediately clear what effect the saga would have on the Unification Movement or the Vatican.