Archbishop Repudiates Expulsion
Thursday, September 28, 2006
A Roman Catholic archbishop dismissed from the Church on Tuesday for consecrating four married men as bishops said yesterday that he does not accept his excommunication and will work to have the Vatican lift its requirement that priests be celibate.
"We do not accept this excommunication and lovingly return it to His Holiness, our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, to . . . withdraw it and join us in recalling married priests to service once again," Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo said in a written statement read for him at a news conference at Imani Temple in Northeast Washington.
Milingo, 76, who was archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, for 14 years, clashed with the Vatican once before, when he married a Korean acupuncturist in a 2001 mass ceremony presided over by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
At the news conference yesterday, Milingo was surrounded by the four men he installed as bishops Sunday at the temple, which is affiliated with the African-American Catholic Congregation, a breakaway church led by the Rev. George Augustus Stallings Jr.
The four, who were automatically excommunicated by participating in the installation, include Stallings, Patrick Trujillo of New Jersey, Peter Paul Brennan of New York and Joseph Gouthro of Nevada.
"I feel liberated," said Stallings, who broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in 1989 to form a church and was excommunicated a year later.
In a communique on Milingo's excommunication, the Vatican said church officials had sought to "dissuade him from persisting in actions that provoke scandal."
But Milingo reached "a position of irregularity and of progressively open rupture of communion with the Church, first with his attempted marriage and then with the ordination of four bishops," it said, adding that Rome does not recognize "the four supposed-bishops."
Washington Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said: "The ordinations are clearly illicit, and I think the Vatican statement speaks for itself. We pray for his reconciliation."
The Rev. Robert Kaslyn, who teaches canon law at Catholic University, said Milingo and the four others are barred from presiding at public worship or administering the sacraments.
"It's very easy to say you're in communion with the Catholic Church, and yet if you're not recognized by other bishops," that relationship is not real, Kaslyn said. "Communion is a two-way street."
Milingo, who said he now lives in Washington with his wife, recently started the Married Priests Now! organization. He said its conference in New York was attended by more than 100 married priests who want to reenter ministry.
The conference was also attended by representatives of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, an affiliate of Moon's Unification Church, said Stallings, who is national co-president of the conference.
At the news conference, Milingo said in his statement that the 25,000 married priests in the United States could help the Catholic Church with its clergy shortage if it would lift "the medieval church-imposed regulation" requiring celibacy.
"In 20 years there will be few priests left," he observed, noting that "the average age of priests is approximately 74."