Beliefs Culture Institutions

Excommunicated bishop still sees himself as Roman Catholic

Excommunicated Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo speaks at a press conference in Washington in this Sept. 27, 2006, file photo. In a Dec. 17 statement, the Vatican said he has been dismissed from the priesthood. Photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) Excommunicated Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who advocates for married priests within the Roman Catholic Church, said he has not split from Rome though many of the priests he ordained no longer see themselves as part of the church.

Excommunicated Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo speaks at a press conference in Washington in this Sept. 27, 2006, file photo. In a Dec. 17 statement, the Vatican said he has been dismissed from the priesthood. Photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service

Excommunicated Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo speaks at a press conference in Washington in this Sept. 27, 2006, file photo. In a Dec. 17 statement, the Vatican said he has been dismissed from the priesthood. Photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service

“We are not a breakaway church,” said Milingo, who married Maria Sung, a Korean acupunturist, in 2001. “Within the Catholic Church married priests existed for a thousand years.”

Milingo’s most recent statement may be part of an effort to reinstate his pension, which was revoked after he was excommunicated by the Vatican in 2006 after he consecrated four married priests as bishops.

In March, Milingo retired from ministry, appointing Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan of the African Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Catholic Diocese of the Americas as his movement’s head.

“He considers himself a Roman Catholic and will remain so all his life,” said Brennan. “He remains a Roman Catholic archbishop. He offers Mass daily and prays five rosaries — one is for the Holy Father — and he prays the Divine Office every day.”

Milingo’s quest to reunite with Rome may be quixotic. The Catholic Church has cut all ties to him.

Milingo’s movement wants the church to apologize for allegedly selling married priests’ wives and children as slaves after Pope Gregory VII made celibacy a requirement in the 11th century.

But the married priests movement in Africa is fractured; many priests have moved on and no longer see themselves as part of the Catholic Church.

About the author

Fredrick Nzwili

Fredrick Nzwili is a journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. For more than 15 years, he has written about religion, politics, peace and conflict, development, security, environment and wildlife. His articles have appeared in international media organizations among others; The Tablet, The Christian Science Monitor, The National Geographic and Kenyan local newspapers; The Standard and the People Daily.

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