ROME (AP) - A Zambian archbishop who scandalized the Catholic Church by getting married last year only to later renounce the union, said after a yearlong secret retreat he is not ready to see his one-time wife.
Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo married South Korean acupuncturist Maria Sung in a group ceremony led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon last year, but subsequently rejected the marriage after a request from Pope John Paul II. Milingo then vanished from public view, to the despair of his wife.
The archbishop spent one year in seclusion in Argentina, but recently returned to an undisclosed location in Italy.
Asked Monday in his first TV interview broadcast since the scandal if he would meet Sung in the future, Milingo said, "No, I think that for now it's a bit difficult."
"I love her, and we have to love everyone," he said on Monday's "Porta a Porta" talk show. "To love everyone includes Maria Sung."
Vatican officials say Milingo will eventually take up his ministry again. A wealthy supporter is outfitting a villa for the archbishop in Zagarolo, a town on the outskirts of Rome.
Sung has accused the Vatican of taking Milingo away from her and keeping him prisoner.
But a priest who sat beside Milingo throughout the interview insisted that the archbishop hadn't been a prisoner of the Vatican, "not even for a day."
"He was always perfectly free," the Rev. Enrico Pepe said. "I don't understand how it can be said that this man was a prisoner or was under some sort of pressure. He was a completely free man from the day he met with the Holy Father."
In Monday's interview, Milingo recalled his decisive private audience with the pope last year, saying he had spontaneously thrown himself at the pontiff's feet.
"A person like him first of all has the supreme authority of the international church," Milingo said. "This is especially so because he is old, and in our African tradition, with the old, you always find wisdom."
According to Milingo, the pontiff offered few words or orders during that meeting, asking him only to return to the Church and saying that he would be guided by Vatican officials.
Church officials say Milingo could return to his ministry by the end of October.
Milingo had already caused controversy in the Church long before his marriage, conducting religious ceremonies that troubled some Vatican officials.
He was summoned to Rome in 1983 after resigning from his post as archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, for performing faith healing and exorcisms. Large crowds of people then flocked to Rome seeking cures from Milingo, and the Vatican removed him from his post there.
Milingo indicated Monday that he would like to resume his faith healing, and insisted that there was nothing untoward about it. "We have some rites than seem like magic, but they are not like that," he said.