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Vatican: married archbishop repents

ROME, Italy (CNN) -- A Zambian archbishop who broke his vows as a priest and married a Korean woman has renounced his marriage and is back in favour with the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican has said.

Emmanual Milingo -- the archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia -- married Maria Sung three months ago in a mass wedding service held in New York by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a Korean evangelist who founded the Unification Church in 1954.

The Holy See released a letter on Tuesday that it says was written by Milingo in which the 71-year-old archbishop met the three conditions set by the church in order for him to avoid excommunication.

"I, in this moment, recommence my life in the Catholic Church with all my heart," the letter read.

"I renounce my relationship with Maria Sung and renounce my relations with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon."

Milingo has not been seen in public since August 7, when he met Pope John Paul II at the pontiff's summer residence in Rome. The Vatican said Milingo had asked for private time for prayer and reflection.

Sung, 43, believes her husband is being held by the Vatican and is staging a hunger strike until she is able to see Milingo.

She has held several news conferences in Rome, and told reporters on Tuesday -- before the letter was released -- what she would do if Milingo left her for the church.

"If I can't meet him on Earth I am ready to die and with my spirit I will be close to him," she said. She has also indicated that she could be pregnant by Milingo.

This is not the first time Milingo has come close to falling out of favour with the Vatican. He was forced to leave Lusaka in 1983 after the church learned he was holding faith-healing services and exorcisms in the Zambian capital. He was given a minor job in Rome.

The Vatican has been reluctant to excommunicate Milingo because he is a very charismatic figure in his home country and across Africa, and the Roman Catholic Church does not want to create a schism with the continent. Milingo had said priests need not be celibate and that God's blessings were meant to be given through the family.

Saying she had complete faith in her husband's character and faithfulness to her, Sung rebuked the Vatican for keeping him away from her.

"Before being a Catholic, he is a human being," Sung said.

"He is not private property of the Catholic Church. I don't want to fight with the Catholic Church, all I want is to find my husband."

• Vatican: the Holy See

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