Vatican announces first Mass of archbishop who embarrassed Church with marriage

VATICAN CITY - The Zambian archbishop who scandalized the Catholic Church by getting married last year will celebrate next week his first public Mass since returning to the fold, the Vatican said Friday.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo will celebrate the Mass on Thursday in L'Abbazia di Casamari, near Frosinone, east of Rome, the Vatican said in a statement.

The Vatican also released videotaped footage Friday showing Milingo arriving two days earlier at his new home in Zagarolo, also near Rome, and blessing a chapel that has been outfitted for his followers.

Milingo embarrassed the Church last year when he married a South Korean acupuncturist, Maria Sung, in a group ceremony by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

At the time, Milingo said celibacy was poisoning the priesthood and that his marriage would allow God's blessings to be given through his new family.

However, Milingo renounced the union and left his wife after visiting Pope John Paul II — ending a dramatic, weekslong saga that had captivated Italians last summer.

Vatican officials have denied Sung's claims that they held Milingo against his will. The Vatican says he freely went on a yearlong spiritual retreat in Argentina after leaving Sung.

Milingo had 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.

In the video released by the Vatican on Friday, Milingo is seen praying in his simple blue chapel, surrounded by priests and nuns and a few friends. At one point, he sings the Ave Maria in an African dialect and at another blesses a hangar-type facility that has been erected on the property to accommodate the crowds that are expected to flock to his services.