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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 20:38 GMT 21:38 UK
Argentine priest reveals sex life
An elderly Roman Catholic priest has scandalised Argentina's third-largest city by publishing an account of his secret sexual liaisons.

The autobiography by Father Guillermo Mariani, 77, appeared in bookshops in Cordoba this week and has virtually sold out its first edition.

In the book, Father Mariani describes affairs with women and even one attempt at a gay relationship.

He describes priestly celibacy as "unnatural" and doomed to disappear.

In interviews to publicise the book, entitled No Beating Around The Bush (Sin Tapujos), Father Mariani said: "I believe that in 30 to 50 years' time, celibacy will no longer be an obligation."

Father Mariani explained that his sexual experiences were just a small part of the book, in which he recounts his 53 years as a priest in the parish of La Cripta.

However, he added that he felt "a great relief" after telling his story, adding: "Adults both inside and outside the Church need to know about these things."

Intimate details

Local newspapers describe Father Mariani as a man already known for holding progressive social views which do not always coincide with the Catholic Church's official position.

In the most lurid passages of the book, Father Mariani recalls intimate details of his affairs.

"I could hear my heart beating in ecstasy at the beauty of the body that was being offered to me. I embraced it and clung to it with the sweat of my skin and the fever of my heart," he writes of having sex with a woman.

In another chapter, he tells of how a man named Antonio suggested a homosexual experience to him, but "our mutual inhibitions overcame our momentary permissiveness and openness".

Church officials have indicated that the Archbishop of Cordoba is studying the book and will make a statement in the next few days.

Nearly all the 3,000 copies of the first edition have been sold and a second printing of 5,000 copies has been announced.

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