WASHINGTON – An African archbishop who wants to make celibacy optional for priests installed four married men Sunday as Roman Catholic bishops.
The Archdiocese of Washington did not recognize the installations. "This means nothing within the church," spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said.
Installed were the Rev. George Augustus Stallings, Jr., of Washington, Peter Paul Brennan, of New York, Patrick Trujillo, of Newark, N.J., and Joseph Gouthro, of Las Vegas.
The four men claim affiliation to the breakaway Synod of Old Catholic Churches.
"We are not only validly ordained Catholic bishops, but we are ordained Roman Catholic bishops," Stallings said.
Milingo has said that the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops has demanded he send a letter of repentance by Oct. 15 to Pope Benedict XVI or face "canonical suspension."
The Vatican said Milingo violated church law when he created "the so-called 'Married Priests Now' association," and when he previously celebrated Mass with married clergy. A "canonical suspension" would bar Milingo from ordaining priests, leading Mass and performing other sacraments, according to the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit writer and expert on the church.
Milingo, 76, has had a troubled relationship with the Vatican for years.
Before his marriage, Catholic officials accused him of promoting African indigenous beliefs by performing mass exorcisms and healing ceremonies. Then in 2001, the archbishop married Maria Sung, a South Korean acupuncturist Moon chose for him, at a mass wedding in New York.
Four months later, Milingo renounced the union, after a personal appeal from Pope John Paul II. But Milingo said he grew frustrated by restrictions on his ministry, so he fled Rome.
In July, he reappeared in the United States to announce his new organization. He says he now lives with his wife in the Washington, D.C., area.