John Paul II's New Book Due Out in May

Collection of Memoirs on His Episcopate

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ROME, MARCH 24, 2004 ( John Paul II’s new book, «Rise, Let Us Be Going,» a reflection on his experiences as a bishop, will be published on May 18, his 84th birthday.

The book’s title is taken from a Gospel verse, Mark 14:42, when Jesus in the Garden of Olives called his sleeping disciples and invited them to follow him.

Inspired by the Gospel passage, in the last part of his book the Pope reminds bishops that they must not be overwhelmed by fear, as the love of God is also present in difficulties.

At a press conference held in a hotel by the Mondadori publishing house, it was explained that the book is 200 pages long and contains 40 to 50 short chapters.

The Pope, who wrote part of the book by hand and dictated part of it, narrates the 20 years of his ministry as bishop, from his ordination in 1958 up to his election to the papacy in 1978.

«It is a collection of memories and reflections on the events of that period,» said Joaquín Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican press office, who attended the press conference.

The work combines biographical elements as well as reflections of the Pope. Navarro-Valls said that John Paul II «has gone to seek the source of his vocation» to the episcopate.

«It is a direct, not artful, style, easy to read,» the spokesman said. «The Pope has made the effort to find words with which to reach the greatest number of people.»

«It is a book on life, full of freshness and vivacity,» Navarro-Valls said. For instance, the Holy Father likes to sing — and says so in the text.

Included are Karol Wojtyla’s difficulties in his relations with the Communist authorities when he was archbishop of Krakow.

The Pope tells of how he was canoeing in a mountain river in 1958. As he approached the shore, he was told he had had a call from the primate of Poland who had important news to give him. That’s when he find out he was appointed a bishop.

Navarro-Valls said the Holy Father wrote the book between last March and August. A heavy workload left the Pope little time to review it or make revisions. That, as well as demands of the editorial process, delayed its publication until this year.

The Vatican Press, which holds the copyright, has an agreement with Mondadori over publication rights and distribution of the book.

Written in Polish, the book will be translated into English, Spanish, Italian, French and German by the Vatican Press.

Mondadori published John Paul II’s «Crossing the Threshold of Hope,» a book-interview co-authored with journalist Vittorio Messori. In November 1996, the Pope published «Gift and Mystery,» on the golden anniversary of his priesthood.

The Pope’s book of poetry, «Roman Triptych,» was published last year.

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