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"And do You, Archbishop Milingo, take this woman....."

The Moonie Priest Defies The Vatican

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, August 22, 2001.

There are numerous reasons given for the decline of conservative institutions, whether church or law, and of the need to return to what are called "traditional values." Anybody who actually knows history gags at the thought that the past holds moral high ground, but one does not need to look far to find numerous examples of why the young do not show respect to the undeserving edifices who lecture them, whether law or church.

For example, the very epitome of traditional values, the Catholic Church, is now in the midst of an embarrassing scandal. Emmanuel Miningo, a seventy-one year old archbishop from Zambia, apparently wed one Maria Sung in a mass wedding performed by that noted priest, the Rear Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Which is to say, the Catholic Church has a married archbishop who is also a Moonie.

Because the Moonies are not reluctant to crow about such an apparent conversion to a belief system where the Korean Moon is, I believe, substituted for Christ or the Pope, the Church no doubt is in sclerotic turmoil about one of its own, just below the Cardinal level, violating vows - many, many vows - and getting married, and then not even using the offices of his own professed church, but that of what Catholics and many others consider a bovine cult.

If the Catholic Church takes itself and its rituals seriously, Milingo should be stripped of not only his archbishop status but of this collar: it has been clear for centuries that priests are not allowed to marry or have intimate physical relations with anything. Also, isn't there something about the rituals of the Catholic Church being foremost and exclusively so? Sine qua non.

And, you know, they used to burn people for entering mere Lutheran gatherings, and ban and excommunicate peasants for improper living arrangements. So you would think that the actions the church should take would be fairly clear and the action swift. But that is not, mysteriously, what has happened at all. The Church apparently wanted the possibly senile or confused or stupid or attention-starved prelate to go on religious retreat while his alleged wife went on a hunger strike to get face time with him.

The Vatican did threaten to throw him out if he did not leave his wife, but you see, from an ethical point of view how can this be made right? An Archbishop decides to have an affair or - given the very strange chaste marriages rumored to be the result of Moonie ceremonies - the appearance of an affair and all is well after a meeting with the Pope and a two week religious retreat? This from a church that technically is still casting the offspring of second marriages into hellfire everlasting along with the procreators? Apparently the Archbishop will still be Archbishop of Zambia. Why isn't he, at least, replaced?

Money. And influence. Milingo is a popular man in Zambia where, I'm a bettin', celibacy is looked upon as deviance. Everywhere, traditional Christian churches and missionaries are threatened by their left flank, the Evangelical and Charismatic churches, and in South America and Africa, from whence the next Pope or certainly the one after will no doubt emerge, the Vatican can not, literally, afford to offend the prospective converts or even the existing Catholic population. And so, under the guise of reasonable consideration, they tolerate this slap from one of their own. But that they have effected no swift punishment and may not ever speaks to their own confusion and hypocrisy. Along with buying off those who recall as adults sexual assault as a child at the hands of Catholic priests, the Church makes itself the very personification of sleaze by this.

Lawyers are all, for the most part, officers of the court and considered pretty much under oath at all times. This is a great image, and one bolstered by the oath taken when they are admitted to the Bar in each state. The oaths vary, but essentially the lawyer promises to rigorously obey hallowed law and usually there is something in there about not besmirching their profession. Also, many if not all states have or had a reference to the need to report any violations of the oath in others, a sort of West Point honor code.

But if this were true, lawyers would hardly every commit adultery, smoke dope, drive drunk, because you never read of attorneys reporting each other for the trivial offences that they litigate to great profit in the lives of others. And you certainly never read of them being held to a higher code of conduct, or being punished for casting doubt on the probity of their profession. And certainly, you never hear of attorneys demanding another attorney be thrown out of the club for having an affair with a married woman. Yet their oaths often demand it. Who can have regard for such, who want to be revered for the oaths they do not obey?

I have no aversion to married priests and think celibacy a foolish status for a family counselor, but it is the church that punishes for violations of oath. I think it absurd that lawyers be held to a higher standard than a gardener, but if they claim it they should live it or at least not profit from arbitrary enforcement and the protection of their own.