| VATICAN CITY,
OCT. 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).-
John Paul II will release a new book, "Memory and Identity:
Conversation Between Millenniums," next spring, says a Vatican
Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office,
made the announcement Wednesday in Frankfurt, Germany.
The book will be published by the Italian publishing house Rizzoli, the
Vatican Information Service confirmed today.
Rizzoli, which published the Pope's "Opera Omnia Filosofica," a
volume of more than 1,000 pages, as well as other texts on literary
criticism written by Karol Wojtyla, owns the world rights to the book.
During the Frankfurt International Book Fair, now under way, there will
be negotiations for its publication in other languages.
According to Navarro Valls, the book is a work on the philosophy of
history in which the Pope considers topics such as modern democracy,
liberty and human rights, the diverse concepts of nation, fatherland
and the state, the more-than-functional relationship between nation and
culture, the rights of man, and the relationship between church and
The common theme is one that characterizes all of John Paul's
philosophical and literary works: the great mystery of man.
Navarro Valls said the book is a result of conversations the Pope
had with two Polish friends, professors Josef Tishner and Krzystof
Michalski, in his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo in 1993.
"The two intellectuals asked the Holy Father questions and he
responded," said the director of the Vatican press office.
The conversations were recorded and later transcribed. The
manuscript was saved for some years until the Pope read it and decided
to make it into a book after having made some corrections.
Although the book refers to situations and facts on other
continents, the Pope is primarily thinking of Europe, in the dynamism
of ideas that sometimes remain latent over the centuries and that
explain realities that would otherwise be inexplicable, Navarro Valls
Among the questions that the Pope addresses are themes on life and
modern thought. The Holy Father answers these questions with
intellectual rigor. "We must learn to go to the roots," he writes.
In "Memory and Identity," the Pope looks for these roots, and at
his relationship to the terrible moments in recent history, as well as
the "innumerable positive fruits" which have been the result of Western
The book makes the reader think about the great problem of finding
the meaning of history, said Navarro Valls. From this point of view,
the author makes an inestimable contribution to understanding the great
historic questions of our age, the spokesman said.
Navarro Valls said that in the book John Paul II writes about the
ideologies of evil, National Socialism and Communism, and explores
their roots and the regimes that resulted.
In addition, he makes a theological and philosophical reflection
about how the presence of evil often ends up being an invitation to do
"Sometimes evil, in certain moments of human existence, reveals
itself as useful. Useful in the measure in which it creates an occasion
to do good," says the Pope in an excerpt from the book.
In presenting the volume, Navarro Valls recalled that John Paul II
has been the first Pope to have books published commercially. "Memory
and Identity" is his fifth book, after "Crossing the Threshold of
Hope," "Gift and Mystery," "Roman Triptych" and "Rise, Let Us Be On Our