An Archbishop whose remarkable powers of healing have raised a storm of controversy has been banned from holding healing sessions more than once a month.
He has appealed to the hundreds of sick and possessed who flock to his house to stay away, as their presence will "create difficulties for him."
Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Lusaka, Zambia, began healing in 1973 long before the Charismatic Renewal Movement took hold in Africa. He is said to have cured many barren women, and in April this year held a healing session for more than 300 people in his Lusaka garden.
Many priests in the diocese have been scandalised by the Archbishop's activities, and after a local delegation approached a "higher authority" Archbishop Milingo received a letter from Rome ordering him to withdraw from the healing ministry.
The Archbishop's own episcopal conference has now said that he should hold healing sessions only once a month, the dates being given to him by his fellow bishops. Support for the Archbishop's ministry has, however, come from President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, who last year rejected arguments brought against the Archbishop. As early as 1974 President Kaunda told the Archbishop: "I have no difficulty in accepting what the Lord has given you. Leave it to God. Ile will show how to use this gift."
The 48-year-old Archbishop is usually considered a conservative in Church affairs. He recently criticised an inter-Church newspaper because it was not Catholic enough, took a strong stand against Zambia's Abortion Act, and expects obedience rather than dialogue from the priests in his diocese.
In June. 1976, however, he wrote a pamphlet entitled "llealing — If I Tell You, You will not Believe Mc," in which he described his healing ministry and the efforts to curtail his work. He also strongly criticised academic theologians who, he said, "have nicely misjudged the Church through their scientific and systematic theology."
The Archbishop's healing is said to be almost entirely directed to deliverance from possession and allied sicknesses and he uses a variety of methods, including hypnotism.
In addition, he allows people to come to prayer meetings with large water containers which have a spoonful of salt added to them before they are blessed and returned to their owners. This is then used as medicine.
"Even today the Lord does not show me the immensity and depth of this power. He continually varies the healing of the sick so that I never get attached to just one way," said the Archbishop.
"In joy and humility, I say again, I am only a channel through which the healing powers flow to my ailing brethren."
Archbishop Milingo admits that on several occasions he has considered giving up his episcopal duties to concentrate on healing, and at other times he has considered giving up his healing ministry so that he can fulfil his administrative duties.
At present, however, he is preparing a second pamphlet, this time on the spirit world and the hold evil spirits have on people.
"The theologians who have not studied in detail the tactics of the devils and evil spirits to torture human beings have no right to dictate to us what we say about the devil," he said.
The Archbishop has little support among the clergy or religious of his diocese, but the laity continue to flock to his healing sessions, the next of which will be held on May 16.