Vatican City -- A leading Roman Catholic cardinal on Wednesday accused the Church headed by Reverend Sun Myung Moon of having applied psychological pressure on both Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and his wife.
The cardinal's words, issued by the Vatican in a statement, were released a few hours after the Vatican said Milingo wanted to meet his Korean wife Maria Sung to tell her if he was leaving her as the Pope has demanded.
Milingo married Sung in a mass wedding performed by Moon last May.
Sung, who started a hunger strike nine days ago asking to see her husband for a face-to-face talk, rejected conditions placed on the meeting.
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington, also reiterated the Roman Catholic Church stand that it does not recognise marriages celebrated by Moon and reminded Milingo of the vow of celibacy he took when he was ordained.
"While (Sung) may believe she is doing the right thing, in all likelihood her actions are the result of a process of psychological pressure and unrealistic reasoning," McCarrick said, adding he understood her feelings and prayed for her.
"We pray also for Archbishop Milingo that, having recovered his freedom of conscience, he may be confirmed in his faithfulness to Christ and to his Church," he added.
The Vatican's issuing of McCarrick's statement from Italy was a clear signal it wanted to add increased authority to his words.
The prelate is based in Washington, where Moon's Unification Church has one of its two headquarters. The other is in South Korea.
"Monsignor Milingo will meet Maria Sung to communicate to her his decision," the Vatican said in the statement.
But last week the Vatican published a hand-written letter to Pope John Paul in which the Zambian archbishop renounced his marriage to Sung and rededicated his life to the Catholic Church.
The Zambian archbishop had earlier declared through a friend that he was renouncing his ties with Moon's group to return to the Catholic fold.
The Vatican statement did not specify when or where the husband and wife would meet but said the meeting and the conditions of it were decided by Milingo of his own free will.
Sung has insisted she wants to see her husband alone after he vanished from public view two weeks ago.
But a Unification Church spokesman working with her in Rome said six conditions had been imposed on the meeting which were not satisfactory.
Spokesman Reverend Philip Schanker briefly showed reporters a fax apparently sent from the Vatican to the South Korean ambassador there, although Italian media quoted Vatican sources as saying the Catholic Church had sent no such letter.
The fax said conditions for the meeting had been imposed by Milingo. The only one seen by reporters was that both Sung and Milingo should have a witness at the one-hour meeting.
Milingo, who had already been in Vatican bad books for holding colourful healing ceremonies and exorcisms, shocked the church when he married Sung in a New York hotel and earned a threat of excommunication unless he renounced his wife and Moon.
Earlier this month, the 71-year-old unexpectedly turned up in Rome to make peace with the Vatican, then disappeared for what the Catholic Church -- which bars its clergymen from marrying -- called "a period of reflection and prayer."