Priest has no problem worshipping God and Elvis

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SORBO, Italy, Oct 16 (Reuters) Romanian-born Antonio Petrescu believes you can worship God and Elvis at the same time: as a Catholic priest and Elvis Presley impersonator, he finds his spiritual inspiration in the late rock legend.

''People ask me 'How can you reconcile Elvis impersonations with your choice of professional work?''' said Petrescu, who puts on his glittery suits and swivels his hips when not working as a parish priest in the Italian town of Avezzano.

Interviewed by Reuters on a church visit to the tiny town of Sorbo -- population, 52 -- in southern Italy, the priest said he believes Elvis is an appropriate inspiration for Christian worship because he sang of ''love in general''.

The 34-year-old's Web site (www.antoniupetrescu.com) has two separate entries -- one for the priest, another for the artist, which talks about his ''fiery voice'' and discography including the singles ''Lovin' Arms'' and ''Reach out to Jesus''.

The pop doesn't stop at Elvis: Petrescu also incorporates the lyrics of singers like Celine Dion into his sermons.

Petrescu feels his responsibility as a priest is to ''walk this Earth in love for Jesus Christ'', a task in which he is inspired by Elvis's ''search for spirituality in his own life''.

REUTERS GL BD1740

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