The shock waves over the recent marriage of the controversial faith-healing Catholic archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, to a Korean doctor, Maria Sung, are still reverberating. But the 71-year-old archbishop says he has no regrets.
He exchanged vows with his bride, 43, at a ceremony in New York on 27 May, under the aegis of the Rev Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church famed for its mass marriages.
As expected, Zambia's Catholic bishops wasted no time in expressing their "sadness" at the marriage. Dennis De Jong, bishop of Ndola, said: "We are deeply saddened and pained by the defection of Archbishop Milingo. This is an injury we will have to live with for a long time."
He revealed that many bishops, and even Pope John Paul II himself, had tried for several years to dissuade Milingo from marrying.
"Regrettably", Bishop de Jong said, "[Milingo) took this advice as a form of persecution. He rather portrayed others as not understanding his actions. He decided to go on with his plan to marry, thereby turning his back on the Church. This implies that he is no longer a bishop nor part of the Catholic Church."
But Milingo is unbowed. "It doesn't affect me," he has said. "The Lord has called me to take a step which will enable me to be a vehicle of his grace and blessing. It is only as a couple that we can fully reflect [God's] nature."
He said the Zambian bishops had not been sincere. "To say they have advised me on this matter is a white lie."
In any case, Milingo made it known in a statement, many Catholic clerics have not faithfully adhered to their vows of celibacy. "The rise of homosexuality and pregnancy among priests and nuns have become common knowledge," he retorted.
Worst affected, by his decision to marry, are nuns of the order he founded in the 1970s called Daughters of the Redeemer. When the news broke of the marriage, Mount Zion, the Daughters headquarters, became a virtual funeral house.
Pressure on Milingo to keep to the straight and narrow goes...