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Breakin' Up Is Hard To Do...

A Roman Catholic archbishop met with his South Korean wife for the first time in three weeks Wednesday and told her he couldn't stay married to her because of his commitments to the church, the Vatican said.

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and Maria Sung met at the Michelangelo Hotel in Rome, where he delivered a letter to her explaining his reasons for leaving her, the Vatican said.

"My commitments in the life of the church, with celibacy, don't allow me to be married," Milingo said in the handwritten letter, a copy of which was sent by the Vatican to news organizations. "The call from my church to my first commitment is just."

He said he was aware of Sung's suffering, and that he would pray for her every day.

"For the great love for my husband, I'll respect his decision" to leave me, Sung told reporters. "But that doesn't change the feeling I have for him in my heart."

She said she would never be with another man and would try to support Milingo in his work throughout her life. Sung said she hoped they would be reunited "in the afterlife."

The meeting between husband and wife lasted about three hours.

The two were married May 27 by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in a group wedding at a New York hotel that outraged the Vatican already incensed by Milingo's exorcisms and faith healings.

The case not only embarrassed the Vatican but also raised concerns that Milingo, once the head of the Lusaka, Zambia diocese, might break from the church and consecrate his own noncelibate bishops. Before announcing his return to the church, Milingo had said celibacy was poisoning the priesthood.

Last week in a prime-time television interview, Milingo announced he had left Sung, saying he had embraced Pope John Paul II's appeal to return to the Catholic Church and keep his vow of priestly celibacy.

Sung said at the time she didn't believe him and suggested that he had been drugged. She has been on a hunger strike for 16 days to press her demand that the Vatican let her see Milingo face-to-face.

Sung, a 43-year-old South Korean national, hadn't heard from the 71-year-old Milingo since Aug. 8, the day after he met with the pope in a bid to avert his threatened excommunication for having gotten married.

The Vatican hasn't disclosed his whereabouts, saying only that he has been on a spiritual retreat. Sung, a member of Moon's Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Movement, had said she believed he was being held against his will.

Milingo, wearing a black suit and a crucifix around his neck, left the hotel in a Vatican car after the meeting, but his destination wasn't known. Sung remained inside, and was expected to talk to reporters later.

On Wednesday, the Turin daily La Stampa reported that Sung had allegedly been married to an Italian man before marrying Milingo. A Sung spokesman, the Rev. Phillip Schanker, said he knew nothing about the alleged marriage.

Citing unidentified sources, La Stampa wrote that Sung suppoedly married the man in the mid-90s when she was working in Naples as an acupuncturist. A patient of the acupuncture studio told a priest of the marriage and the Vatican was subsequently told, the newspaper said.

Also citing unidentified sources, La Stampa wrote that the Neapolitan man reportedly told a relative that Sung had suddenly left him.

Sung has been asked at news conferences about similar reports of previous marriages.

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