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Get-up-and-go Pope's latest book

Pope John Paul II's newest book - titled Get up. Let us go! - is set to be released in Italy today, the Holy Father's 84th birthday.

Press articles suggest this is "perhaps his last trip down memory lane". They describe the book as a "stream of consciousness from youth to old age" that recalls "everything from carrying a sleeping bag in a grubby Polish train to his twilight years as leader of one billion Catholics".

According to a Reuters report The Age today writes that he has never felt "lonely" despite a life of celibacy but also offers some rare self-doubt in one section where he asks himself if he perhaps has not been strict enough.

He was on a wilderness camping trip on the Lyna River when he got word that Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski wanted to see him.

"First I went by canoe, then I got a ride in the back of a truck carrying sacks of flour to the city of Olsztynek. The train to Warsaw was leaving late at night so I took a sleeping bag in case I had to take a nap on the station floor . . . but I didn't sleep at all that night."

After his superiors told him he would be made a bishop he told them he was going back to the camping trip.

A superior at first said: "Perhaps (as bishop) you shouldn't do those things anymore."

The superior relented and told the young priest who would someday be Pope: "Alright. Go ahead. But make sure you get back in time for your consecration."

He took the train back to the Polish lake country, reading Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea along the way.

"I felt rather strange," the Pope recalls.

The report suggests the book is "bound to be a bestseller". His 1994 book has sold more than 20 million copies. His royalties will go to charity.

Pope's get-up-and-go (Reuters/The Age 18/5/04)

New Pope Book: Last Trip Down Memory Lane? (Reuters/Yahoo 17/5/04)
Pope says in book he could admonish people more (National Post)
Revitalised Pope gets travel bug (AFP/ 17/5/04)
Leaked excerpts from Pope's new book (Catholic World News 17/5/04)
Monadori Publishers

18 May 2004