The former head of the Catholic Church in Zambia, Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, has launched his autobiography in Rome.
Archbishop Milingo was excommunicated for marrying and for attempting to ordain four married Catholic priests as bishops in the United States.
This is the first time that he has returned to Rome since his formal excommunication by the Vatican.
About 100 journalists and TV cameramen turned up for the book launch, in a bookshop near the Trevi fountain.
Seated next to his South Korean wife, Maria Sung, the African prelate vigorously defended his decision to defy the Roman Catholic Church’s celibacy rule.
“We are claiming our rights. We are priests forever and we are members of the Catholic Church,” he said.
Archbishop Milingo claims that worldwide about 150,000 Catholic priests have left the church to marry, 26,000 of them in the United States alone.
His book, Confessions of an Excommunicated Catholic, tells his life story from childhood poverty in Africa to his appointment as one of the youngest ever archbishops of the Catholic Church.
After a period of enforced residence in Rome when the Vatican became uneasy over his faith-healing activities in Zambia, Archbishop Milingo left Italy for the United States where he became close to the Unification Church of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
He denied however that he had become a member of the Moonies.
His mission today, he says, is to be the apostle of married priests.
Naturally Archbishop Milingo will not be seeing Pope Benedict while he is here.
Although he said he personally had been treated with compassion and kindness by the late Pope John Paul II, he strongly criticised the way that priests who leave the church to marry are abandoned by the Vatican and forbidden from returning to their pastoral work.