Would-be papal assassin Mehmet Ali Agca on Monday called the Vatican "the headquarters of the devil" and urged Pope John Paul II, the man he tried to kill in 1981, to step down as head of the Catholic church.
    In a written statement distributed by his lawyer outside a Turkish courtroom, Agca expressed affection for the pope, who publicly forgave the Turkish gunman within days of the assassination attempt.
    "My dear brother pope, resign! Resign immediately and go back to Poland. You are a good person but you cannot sit at the head of the Vatican, that rubbish dump of history and the headquarters of the devil," Agca said in a rambling hand written letter bearing his signature.
    Agca, a wiry and intense figure who once claimed to be Jesus Christ, returned to his native Turkey last month after being pardoned by Italy where he had served 19 years in jail for trying to kill Pope John Paul II. The pardon came at the request of the pope.
    Agca has more than nine years to serve in Turkey for a 1979 murder and is also being tried on armed robbery charges. He has dismissed those charges as "fairy tales" and on Monday promised to devote himself to the abolition of the papacy.
    "I declare an international cultural struggle against the Vatican,"he said, calling the Catholic hierarchy "a betrayal of the Bible, of the messiah and of God."
12 July 00

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