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Pope to publish new book of verse

Quite apart from his role as Vicar of Christ and leader of the approximately 1 billion Catholic people in the world, the Pope has generated quite significant sums of money in his own right through books that he has published during his Pontificate. The Time of London reports: one of the unexpected bestsellers of 2003 is likely to be a volume of poetry by the Pope in which he not only reflects on his role in history and religion, in a kind of "last testament", but also offers thoughts on the qualities required of his successor.

It will be the Pope's first published volume of poetry since his election in 1978, and is almost certain to be his last. A prolific author and polyglot, John Paul II has been a poet and playwright since his early days as a priest, bishop and cardinal in Poland.

The Vatican does not release details of the Pope's royalties, or fully reveal how the funds are used. The Pope's writings are published by commercial publishing houses such as Doubleday in the US and Mondadori and Rizzoli in Italy under licence from the Vatican.

Its revenues are listed together with those of Vatican Radio and the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in the Holy See's annual budget, with no separate breakdown of figures. It is known, however, that the Pope received an advance of more than 5 million ($14.1 million) for his 1994 memoirs, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, which sold 6 million copies in the first year alone.

The Vatican said that the Pope had donated part of the royalties to the rebuilding of places of worship in the former Yugoslavia to repair "the ravages of Balkan conflict".

The Times

3 Jan 2003