Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Marriage Made in... Schism?

Just when you thought it was safe, there's a story out there that Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo will soon resurface with some interesting company....

Word quickly flying around indicates that the colorful Zambian prelate, who yet again went missing some weeks back and has been the subject of a missing-person search by his home government, skipped Rome in late June with George Augustus Stallings, patriarch of the breakaway African American Catholic Congregation, based in Washington.

Stallings, a onetime priest of the archdiocese of Washington, established his base at the Imani Temple, where he was ordained a bishop in the lineage of the Old Catholic Church in 1989. The AACC has since ordained women as priests and bishops.

An Italian news service reported in late June that, before leaving his residence at the community of Zagarolo, Milingo told the three religious women he lived with there that "I'm going and won't return again."

At his last disappearance in 2001, the retired archbishop of Lusaka who became famous in Italy for his free-flowing Charismatic healing services surfaced in New York where, at a ceremony of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church, he attempted a marriage with Maria Sung, a Korean acupuncturist.

Archbishop Milingo's Moonie Wedding set off a summer of high drama in the Italian media, ending with Milingo's reconciliation with John Paul II, a more stringent oversight for the his activities, and his separation from Sung, who charged that the Vatican was holding the archbishop hostage.

Stallings married his wife, Sayomi, a former Moon aide, at the same 2001 Unification church ceremony in which Milingo and Sung went public with their union. The couple have two children, and the AACC head is said to have kept close ties with Moon.

In a seismic move, it's being said that Milingo and Stallings are moving toward joining with Moon to form a Unification-backed Catholic group. Given Milingo's valid episcopal orders (he was ordained a bishop by Paul VI) and Stallings' record on the ordination of women and married men, to call the prospect a "mega-schism" in the making would be an understatement.

Indeed, it's enough to make your head explode.

Stay tuned.