NEW YORK, May 27, UPI--A controversial Roman Catholic archbishop married a South Korean physician Sunday in a ceremony conducted by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who also married or renewed the marriage vows of some 50 other couples.

Archbishop Emanuel Milingo, 71, who was retired from his post in a Vatican department last year, married Maria Ryae Sung, 43, a South Korean doctor of acupuncture. The couple plans to live in Africa.

The Rev. Phillip Schanker, spokesman for the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, which Moon formed in 1997, said Milingo planned to remain within the Catholic church. Catholic church officials have been quoted as saying Milingo faced excommunication if he married.

"The blessing ceremony is of no way to remove beliefs, the Rev. Moon has no desire to alienate anyone's faith, the archbishop is not leaving his faith, but he did seek Rev. Moon's guidance in seeking a wife," Schanker told United Press International. "The focus of the ceremony was to marry some people for the first time and renew the vows of others."

He said "Milingo does not plan to leave the Catholic church and his bride is studying the elements of the Catholic church."

"Now at 71 years of age after a lifetime of devotion to the church and to my priestly vows, the Lord has called me to take a step that will change my life forever, which will enable me to be a vehicle of His grace and blessing to Africa and the world, but one which I expect will alter my relationship with the Roman Catholic Church as well," Milingo said in a statement issued Saturday.

"As a celibate priest, matrimony was the furthest thing from my mind. It is only through the command of Jesus, and the counsel and support of Rev. and Mrs. Moon, that I take this unexpected and bold step, one that I have wrestled with in my heart for some time," he said.

Schanker said about 600 people attended the Sunday ceremony at the New York Hilton and many faiths were represented.

The archbishop, a native of Zambia, has been at odds with the Roman Catholic church for a couple of decades.

The former head of the archdiocese of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, was recalled to Rome in 1982 after endorsing faith-healing and exorcism. He met twice with Pope John Paul II, who in 1983 accepted Milingo's resignation as archbishop to Lusaka and appointed him as special delegate to the Pontifical Commission for Pastoral Care for Migration and Tourism.

Before his retirement, Milingo drew thousands to healing masses that included exorcisms in Italy and other countries. He had been made a bishop in 1969 and four years later discovered what he called his gift of healing the sick and casting out demons.

The 81-year-old Moon in his church Web site, www.unification.org, describes the Holy Blessing as a ceremony that includes: the sprinkling of holy water representing the rebirth or renewal of the husband and wife together as a blessed couple, a recitation of vows to consummate the ideal of the creation of God as an eternal husband and wife to rear their children to live up to the will of God, and to love the people of the world as God does.

The blessing ceremony in New York was the culmination of Moon's 52-day, 52-city tour that called for international spiritual renewal, Schanker said.

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