Home News Tribune Online 12/11/06
by Erick Wakiaga
The archbishop is in the house.
Well, sort of.
Emmanuel Milingo, a Roman Catholic archbishop from the African nation of Zambia, who was excommunicated for ordaining married men as priests, is on a mission. He's been in New Jersey to continue his campaign against celibacy of the clergy by ordaining married priests.
But Milingo, 76, is not new to stirring up the pot from within.
In the 1970s, he drew the wrath of some bishops through his exorcism and healing ministry.
Again, Milingo got in trouble with Pope John Paul II in 2001 when he married Maria Sung in a mass wedding performed by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church. Moon is the Korean known for uniting thousands of couples holding photographs of future spouses in mass weddings.
But mass wedding or not, the gospel according to Milingo is that celibacy isn't a key to the gates of heaven. In fact, he says that one need not be celibate to point to others the direction to the gates of heaven.
I've never heard Milingo preach, but the gospel he is spreading is good for the Roman Catholic Church.
Well, even Apostle Paul himself says in his first letter to Timothy (3:2) that "A Bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife . . ." Although Paul desires that men be like himself — unmarried.
"I would that all men were even as myself; but every one hath his proper gift from God," Paul adds in his first letter to the Corinthians.
In other words, the top apostle gives priests the freedom of choice.
In addition, those familiar with the Bible know that it exalts the state of marriage. In fact, at one point the Catholic Church itself allowed priests to keep the wives to whom they had previously been married.
I'm sure there are thousands of ordained priests who are married and willing to serve the church. But their marital vows stand between them and the altar.
These are the men — and women — that Milingo wants the Roman Catholic Church — tainted by sex-abuse scandals — to welcome.
For the record, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States has spent more than $1 billion to settle the sex scandal.
Our own Diocese of Metuchen had its share of the scandal. Some of you may remember the case of a priest who was accused of abusing an 11-year-old altar boy in a Hunterdon County church.
I believe time is ripe to allow Roman Catholic priests who can't live a life of celibacy to serve the church.
I'm not saying that married priesthood in itself would prevent sex abuses by priests. But allowing priests to marry would be one step to solving the sexual problems and the declining number of priests, challenges confronting the Roman Catholic Church.
There are more Milingos out there. And the flock is crying out aloud for them.