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

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Milingo’s most recent statement may be part of an effort to reinstate his pension, which was revoked after he was excommunicated by the Vatican in 2006 after he consecrated four married priests as bishops.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

Categories: Beliefs, Culture, Institutions


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Fredrick Nzwili

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.


  1. This sex and marriage hangup of the church under the Vatican must come to a screeching halt. Not only was marriage historically legitimate in the Christian church, but sex is an intrinsic part of human nature and marriage is a natural and cultural outcome of sex or response to sex. Babies comes from sex. Is it better that babies and children be raised by a single parent or by two–no matter the gender?

    The church has a great deal of catching-up to do. The church has long promoted education. It is a thousand years since the church monarch Gregory VII ruled out marriage for money reasons, not for religious reasons. It is long past the time when Gregory’s error be corrected–by a church council, not left to a “monarch”– and marriage be respected fully by not daring to prevent it to those of its clergy who desire marriage–including women clergy.

    The long-standing and continuing sexual problems among Catholic clergy is screaming evidence that sex and marriage prohibition is unnatural and wrong. Let us wake up and live with all healthy and wholesome manifestations of love.

  2. He is an excommunicated layman. Also he is a follower of the late Rev. Moon. The sex and marriage hangup is our cultures not the Church. The culture has a lot of catching up to do. Sexual problems are not caused by celibacy or only celibates would have sexual problems. Let’s be healthy and wholesome by following the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    • Dear Sir,
      The former Archbishop Emeritus Milingo was NEVER a follower of the ver moon, so called. It’s the same as saying that Our Good Pope Francis is a ‘protestant’ because he received a ‘blessing’ while kneeing down when he was an Archishop in Argentina from a protestant pastor ! Milingo was never and will never be a follower of the rev moon and the Holy See never excommunicated him or either accused him of being either schismatic or heretic like Lefebvre was accused of by Blessed Pope John Paul II !

  3. Poor Milingo. He can and does think himself into whatever suits his mood but unfortunately for him, the Catholic Church has specific guidelines, traditions, and rules Catholics must follow and are free to follow or not. He made the choices he wanted and now he is trying to change the Church into his image, not its founder, Jesus Christ. Celibate priests are not a requirement of the Catholic Church but Christ said “some will make themselves eunuchs…” to follow him. There can be endless discussion about allowing priests to marry (or be women) but Jesus Christ, of his own free will and desire chose only men to be his apostles. He had many disciples, both men and women, but the Apostles He chose, were men. Period!

    • First of all your quote denies your very argument. You say Jesus said, “some have made themselves eunuchs …” Hello…the word “some” means not all! Second of all Christ did choose men… Only men…married men. First Pope? St. Peter…married! Christ healed St. Peter’s mother-in-law! Wake up! There are many married Byzantine Catholic priests now and many former Lutherans and Anglicans that are now Roman Catholic priests. How is it that outsiders can be offered a life of service that we Catholics cannot have? One day soon we will have a restored married priesthood. We already have a restored
      married clergy in our permanent deacons that are married. Please read, study learn and THEN post. Others should not have to suffer the uninformed opinions of ignorant Catholics!

  4. I keep reading about the changes the church must make and the Pope’s own statements regarding changes toward gays, celibacy, atheists, etc. that I have begun to doubt my faith. I remember after Vatican ll it was said that you can follow your conscience as to whether you are committing sin or not. What exactly does that mean? As a young person, I thought if YOU thought it was OK, it was OK regardless of whether it was once considered an absolute right or wrong. Getting very confusing for this old lady.

  5. Mooknino, I would like to add some facts that you either ignored or are not aware of. First, you should read paragraph 1618 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Next, Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7: 32-35, “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about wordly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about wordly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

    The Catholic Book of Knowledge, The Catholic Press, Inc., 1958, pg 152, clearly states that: “An early Christian tradition forbade the clergy to marry after ordination; and the fourth century Synod of Elvira decreed that all clerics, even those already married, were to live in continence. A series of synods from the beginning of the twelfth century (especially the Second Council of the Lateran in 1139) declared the marriage of persons in holy orders to be not only unlawful, but invalid.

    While The Book of Knowledge does state the celibacy in the clergy is a law and could be changed and has been in exceptional cases, I think St. Paul and the Catechism present a strong enough case for the continuence of priestly celibacy.

  6. Every profession has ethics and norms and whoever cannot abide by it shouldn’t go into it. People know that priests don’t marry, so whoever that cannot live a celibate life should not go into priesthood. Because people abuse celibacy doesn’t make it wrong, just as we see on daily bases people abuse marriage and that doesn’t make marriage wrong.

  7. There have been more marriage divorce in this generation than in the past combined. So should we because of that cancel marriage? The same thing is applicable to celibacy. The problem we have today is poor christian marriage which is not what it used to be, not celibacy. No sexual sin that a priest commits today that married men do not commit in hundredfold. If one priest commits formication, about hundred married men out there still commits adultery. So celibacy is not the problem.

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