Milingo mess may be over
"My commitment to the life of the Church, including celibacy, does not allow me to be married," Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo said in a letter to Maria Sung, whom he "married" in a May ceremony officiated by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon. "The call from my church to my first commitment is just." After a brief meeting between Milingo and Sung yesterday, the Korean acupuncturist said she accepted the breakup. "For the great love for my husband, I'll respect his decision," she told reporters. "But that doesn't change the feeling I have for him in my heart." (Weblog feels it necessary to point out an important distinction that most media aren't making: the Vatican doesn't recognize Moon's mass weddings—and thus Milingo's marriage—as legitimate.) This seems to brings to a close one of the strangest (and most media-saturated) battles between two churches in the recent years. Some media have portrayed the tale as a soap opera. Indeed, it has included some spicy plot points, including accusations of drugging, kidnapping, brainwashing, and whispers of pregnancy. But The New York Times was able to see through the fog. "Though the language of romance has been used to describe their peculiar melodrama, the continuing saga of Archbishop Milingo and Ms. Sung seems less a love story than an interfaith firefight," Melinda Henneberger wrote in yesterday's edition. "In religious circles, the spectacle is widely seen as a straightforward and highly successful public relations attack on the Vatican by an outfit that the Curia does not even deign to consider its spiritual competition." Now that it's over, who won the public relations battle? It's hard to say, but Weblog thinks the Unification Church's efforts may at least cause both Protestants and Catholics to think twice before joining Moon in political and other nonreligious efforts.

Israel withdraws from Beit Jala
Under pressure from the U.S. and Europe, Israeli soldiers early this morning left the West Bank town of Beit Jala, which is mainly populated by Christians. "The withdrawal of the army forces comes after the Palestinians promised to keep the area quiet and stop the firing on the neighborhood of Gilo," says an Israeli army statement. The army says it will reoccupy the town if shooting at the Jerusalem suburb continues.

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