by Amy Welborn
The renegade Roman Catholic archbishop who was excommunicated by the Vatican after he installed married priests as bishops acknowledged today that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was supporting his crusade against mandatory celibacy.
At a weekend conference of married priests, Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo distributed a statement to participants headlined "Thanks," crediting the Korean evangelist for his backing for the meeting and for Milingo's Married Priests Now! advocacy group.
"Today we are present as beneficiaries of Rev. Moon," Milingo wrote. "In order to ensure the success of our convocation he dedicated his key organizations to give their utmost support in every way needed to the Married Priests Now!"
Milingo was married to a Korean acupuncturist chosen for him by Moon in a mass Unification Church wedding in 2001. The archbishop appeared to drop those ties when he heeded pleas from Vatican officials and Pope John Paul II to renounce the marriage and return to Rome.
When Milingo disappeared from Italy this year, resurfacing in the United States in July, he and his aides denied any link with Moon. They said they were fighting on their own to save the church from its clergy shortage and sex abuse crises that they blamed on celibacy.
"He got his wife and now it's over," a Milingo aide, the Rev. Dairo Ferrabolli, told the Associated Press in September.
However, at this weekend's meeting, Milingo overflowed with praise for Moon.
"I have witnessed the zeal of Rev. Sun Myung Moon for the realization of the Kingdom for God," Milingo wrote. "His concern for the welfare of the whole world makes him not only a world benefactor, but more importantly a person whose vision, humility and saintly life has awakened our own courage and determination to organize and do what we ourselves know is right from God."