Thursday, March 10, 2011

EXCLUSIVE - Report from the Vatican Press Event!

By John Thavis
Rome Bureau - Catholic News Service

John Thavis
ROME, March 20, 2011 – The rollout of Pope Benedict XVI’s new book this evening was unusual from the start. For one thing, the Vatican Press Office was packed, with more print reporters and TV cameras than have been seen here in a long time. Everyone had a copy of the book, but not everyone had read it yet. Most of my Italian colleagues confessed to have perused only the “synthesis” handed out by the press office, which itself was six pages, single-spaced.

Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet gave the first (and the shorter) of two speeches, saying that while “Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week” is “dense,” it’s a book that can and should be read by non-experts and experts alike. Because of its depth, he said, the book seemed to him to mark “the dawn of a new era of exegesis.”

When their time came, journalists focused their questions on how an average reader should approach the book, on the pope’s apparent optimism about the future of the church and on his interesting words on the church’s relationship with the Jewish people.

For his part, Father Giuseppe Costa, head of the Vatican publishing house, revealed that a certain percentage of proceeds from the book’s sales worldwide will go to the author. In this case, he said, the pope has designated half his share for a foundation that promotes theological studies, and half will be used toward charity causes.

Father Costa also said the Vatican was working with some 20 publishing houses around the world to publish the book in various languages. Negotiations are underway for editions in additional languages, including Arabic and Japanese, he said.

No one doubts that it will be a best-seller.

John Thavis is the Rome Bureau Chief for Catholic News Service.

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