Wednesday, March 24, 2004

ROME — Pope John Paul II has written an “autobiographical reflection” on his years as a bishop in Poland, a book the Vatican and Italian publishing giant Mondadori said yesterday was bound to be another world best seller.

The book will be released in Italy on the pope’s 84th birthday, May 18 — a decade after the publication of John Paul’s heavily autobiographical “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” which has sold 20 million copies around the world.

“I wouldn’t be so sure that the latest book means an end to the pope’s writing career,” said John Paul’s spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, seated beside Mondadori executives at the book launch.

Mr. Navarro-Valls described the book as “recollections and reflections” centered on a 20-year period from when Karol Wojtyla became a bishop in 1958 through his election as the first Polish pope in 1978. It includes memories of his clashes with communist authorities in Poland as well as his meetings with people of all walks of life at the archbishop’s palace in Krakow, he added.

The 200-page book is titled “Get Up, Let Us Go,” taken from a passage from the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament, where Jesus is speaking to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his betrayal and crucifixion.

Mondadori officials said they are negotiating rights for the English, French, German and Spanish versions, and it was not immediately clear when they would be released. A Polish edition also is planned.

The publishing house is part of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire, but Mondadori Vice President Maurizio Costa said he has not talked to the Italian leader about the book.

Completion of the work is the latest literary achievement for the pope, who is pushing ahead with a heavy pace despite Parkinson’s disease and knee and hip ailments.

Mr. Navarro-Valls said the royalties will go into a fund for charitable use. Royalties from “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” were given by the pope for building churches in Eastern Europe.

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