.- Two groups made up of former Catholic priests, who are pushing for a married priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, have issued warnings to married former priests about a third, similar organization, Married Priests Now, which is headed by the excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.
The recently formed Married Priests Now is holding a convention, from Dec. 7 to 10, at the local Sheraton Hotel. As of Wednesday only 200 people were registered to attend, far less than the 1000 organizers had expected.
CORPUS and Celibacy is the Issue (CITI), both groups consisting of men who left the Roman Catholic priesthood to marry, along with their supporters, have expressed concern about Married Priests Now and the new group’s legitimacy.
CORPUS and CITI cited Milingo’s excommunication after his illicit attempt to ordain three married men as bishops. CORPUS also expressed concern about the new group’s connection with the Unification Church's Rev. Sung Myung Moon, who has called himself the Messiah.
"That doesn't click with most Roman Catholics," Russell Ditzel, president of CORPUS, told the Daily Record. CORPUS has about 1,500 members nationwide.
Paul Mayer, a former Benedictine monk of 18 years who got married decades ago, told the Daily Record that he sent e-mails this week warning married priests and organizations that represent them about Milingo's connection with Moon.
"It is very troubling," Mayer reportedly said. "I consider him (Moon) to be sinister."
Peter Paul Brennan, one of the married men supposedly ordained by Milingo in September, told the Daily Record that Moon provides funding for Married Priests Now and paid for much of their convention but he is not a member of the organization.
CITI, which runs a listing of married men who supposedly work as priests though they are not allowed to do so by the Catholic Church, issued a press release saying it did not support the convention and would not be represented there.
CORPUS is, however, advertising for the convention on their website.
Despite the renouncement of the vows or ordination promises of their members, CORPUS and CITI claim to be Roman Catholic organizations. "We are Roman Catholics and plan to stay that way," said Louise Haggett, founder of CITI.
Neither group is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Although the Church holds that a man, once ordained, remains a priest forever, the Church forbids Catholics from participating in sacraments celebrated by those who have left the active ministry, through the rejection of their vows.
Milingo, who said he does not recognize his excommunication, has announced that he plans to ordain three other married men as priests on Sunday at an independent church in West New York.