The Italian Almanac

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Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo

Italian News - June 10

Monsignor Emmanuel Milingo, the Catholic archbishop who shocked the Vatican by defecting to a sect and marrying a Korean acupuncturist, is to perform at an Italian soul music festival next month. The 76-year-old prelate, who has since made his peace with the Catholic Church, will sing tracks from a new CD he has recorded in order to raise funds for a children's hospital in his native Zambia.

Milingo is scheduled to go on stage on July 22 at the Porretta Soul Festival, an international event held every year near Bologna. He and his Neapolitan backing musicians are collectively billed as The Emmanuel Milingo Experience. Festival organiser Graziano Uliani said he had readily accepted the clergyman's request to showcase his album because the music was of a high quality and Milingo was a "charismatic" figure.

"The music isn't classic Memphis soul, I have to admit. It's a sort of ethnic soul, very African sounding with elements of Gospel," Uliani said. "Milingo has a fine baritone voice, full of feeling. He would make a great Gospel singer!". About 2,000 people are expected to see Milingo perform his songs, some of which are in Zambian tribal languages.

Archbishop Milingo shot to international attention in 2001 when he joined the sect of the Rev Sun Myung Moon and married a Korean woman chosen by its leader. Facing the possibility of excommunication, he met Pope John Paul II and then repented, leaving his heartbroken bride and returning to the Catholic fold. Since then he has lived in a religious community near Rome, saying occasional masses but generally staying out of the public eye.