Archbishop in book about Moon-ceremony wedding: I wanted to shock

VATICAN CITY - A Zambian archbishop who was threatened with excommunication for marrying a South Korean woman says he went through with the wedding to shock the Vatican.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo made the revelations in a book that has just appeared in Italian bookstores, ahead of his expected return to Italy next month after a year in seclusion.

Milingo embarrassed the Vatican last year when he married a South Korean acupuncturist in a group ceremony led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, then renounced the marriage after a personal appeal by Pope John Paul II.

His latest assertions don't seem to have upset the Vatican, at least on the official level. A top Vatican official, Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone, told Vatican Radio on Tuesday that Milingo had reconciled with the Church after a year of spiritual retreat in Argentina.

Milingo is "fully reconciled with the Catholic Church and with the Holy Father, John Paul II," Bertone said.

Last month, Bertone denied claims from some of Milingo's supporters that the African was being kept against his will by the Vatican.

Milingo discusses the last year of his life in the book "The Fish Which was Fished Out of the Mud," which was written in the form of an interview with Milingo by an Italian journalist.

In it, Milingo said he had "wanted to provoke shock" by marrying Maria Sung after he had been removed from his Vatican post, where he had attracted large crowds of people seeking faith healings.

He said the removal had left him feeling isolated and that his requests to meet with the pope back then "were lost in the ceremonial bureaucracy" of the Vatican.

Milingo said followers of the Rev. Moon approached him and that he saw a "solution to my state of isolation."

Despite asserting that he wanted to do something shocking, Milingo also claims that he was ignorant about Moon followers.

"Even if it can seem strange to you, I didn't know a great deal about them," he says, adding that their approach fit into his idea that "everyone has the right to know the Gospel."

Milingo was summoned to Rome in 1983 after resigning for his post as archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, for performing faith healings and exorcisms. After thousands of people flocked to Rome seeking cures for AIDS and cancer, the Vatican removed him for his post here dealing with immigrants.

In the book, Milingo doesn't touch on questions about his intimacy with his bride, who was almost 30 years younger than he.

While mentioning that under Moon rules, the first 40 days after a couple's marriage are supposed to be chaste, Milingo says the two went on a honeymoon in Korea "which wasn't exactly sweet."

The Vatican has said Milingo will take up residence in Zagarolo, a Rome suburb where a wealthy follower has found a villa, complete with parking garage for his followers.

Despite its past problems with the archbishop, the Vatican appears to be resigned to Milingo's popularity.

Bertone said God gave Milingo "a charisma ... with particular attention to the sick, and thus to suffering people of every kind."

In the book, Milingo recalls his face-to-face encounter with the pope, who convinced him to renew his vow of celibacy.

He says that as he was about to meet with the pope, he wondered "what sins he would have pointed out in my behavior."

"Instead, the pope didn't discuss anything with me, he didn't accuse me of anything. I greeted him, he indicated that I should sit down and then he told me solemnly, `In the name of Jesus Christ, return to the Catholic Church.' That's it. He didn't add anything else."