Zambian archbishop admits marriage was a mistake

LUSAKA, Zambia - A Zambian archbishop, who horrified the Catholic Church when he wedded a Korean acupuncturist, returned home on visit from Italy Thursday, and declared that his marriage had been a mistake from the very beginning.

"I do realize that there are hundreds of thousands of supporters who depend on me for pastoral guidance and as such I belong to them all," Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo told reporters at Lusaka International Airport. "There is no way in which a single individual can be allowed to own or consume this body of Christ alone."

When the Vatican heard of Milingo's marriage to Maria Sung in a mass wedding ceremony blessed by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon last year it summoned him to Rome.

Milingo subsequently rejected his marriage on an appeal from Pope John Paul II and was then sent on a year-long spiritual retreat to Argentina to make peace with the Church.

Milingo, 72, maintained Thursday that he had not initially intended to marry Sung, but said he was merely trying to expand his pastoral mission.

He admitted he had later erred, but said he had since reconciled with the Church.

Long before his marriage, Milingo caused controversy in the Church by conducting unorthodox religious ceremonies.

He was summoned to Rome in 1983 after resigning from his post as archbishop of Lusaka, 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 said had agreed to abide by church conventions and was happy to serve his new parish in Zagarolo, 30 kilometers (20 miles) southeast of Rome.

While in Zambia, Milingo is scheduled to celebrate a a public mass Dec. 14 and visit family members.

Two months ago Sung traveled to Lusaka for a highly publicized visit, during which she accused the Vatican of holding her husband in a cell against his will and meddling in their marriage.