Pope's New Book a Call to Optimism

Father Claudio Rossini Evaluates «Arise! Let Us Go!»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II’s new book, which goes on sale Tuesday, his 84th birthday, is an invitation to optimism, says the director of the Vatican Publishing House.

The volume entitled «Arise! Let Us Go!» was written in Polish between March and August 2003. In it, Karol Wojtyla recalls the 20 years of his episcopal ministry in Krakow.

In this interview with ZENIT, Salesian Father Claudio Rossini, the director of the publishing house, reveals the central message of the book.

Q: What is the style of this book?

Father Rossini: From what one can gather, even by leafing casually through it, one appreciates that it is a book written in a very clear style, which helps the reading.

The Pope reviews his memories of his pastoral experience as bishop during 20 years in Poland. Eight years ago, he wrote on his experience as priest in the book «Gift and Mystery.» The new volume reflects the doctrinal lines, the roots, the images of his episcopal ministry, which would later appear in his magisterium as Bishop of Rome.

It seems that, upon reaching 84 years of age, he wishes to offer the keys of the reading to understand his experience as bishop and Pope.

Q: The book’s copyright belongs to the Vatican Publishing House, yet it is published by Mondadori, which in turn has established agreements at the international level with other publishers. Why?

Father Rossini: The Holy Father handed the text to his publishers, the Vatican Publishing House, in the month of January.

The problem then arose of finding a way to ensure that the book could be distributed throughout the world, in a one-on-one manner, with the possibility not only of it being translated into the main languages, but also into other less common ones.

The Vatican Publishing House analyzed the international market, and concentrated on three names. Among these, Mondadori was finally chosen, either because of the positive experience 10 years ago with «Crossing the Threshold of Hope,» or because of Mondadori’s contacts with the principal publishing groups worldwide.

We contacted Mondadori and came to a publishing agreement in a very short time. Thus, tomorrow it will be published in Italy, Poland, Germany, France and Spain.

Later, it will be followed by editions in English and Portuguese, which are virtually at the point of being printed. This book is an assured worldwide media phenomenon.

Q: Where will the money go that comes from the author’s copyright?

Father Rossini: By contract, the author’s copyright income will be received on behalf of the Holy Father by the Vatican Publishing House, which in turn will put them at the disposition of the Pope’s charity. It’s up to him to decide how it will be used.

I remember that 10 years ago, after the publication of «Crossing the Threshold of Hope,» there was the serious emergency of the massacres in Rwanda, Burundi and the Balkans war. Part of the income was allocated to the peoples of Rwanda and Burundi, and another part to the reconstruction of the Balkans.

This aid served for the reconstruction of Catholic and Orthodox churches in those countries so harshly scourged by the war. When the income from this book comes in, the Pope will decide, according to the emergencies.

Q: You are the Pope’s editor. Does John Paul II have any other surprises in store for the future?

Father Rossini: The Pope has recovered after having had health problems during the days of the 25th anniversary of his pontificate. He has returned to his ordinary activity with the Wednesday catechesis, with group audiences, as we see in the news.

Therefore, we must not close the doors on the future. For the time being, let us concentrate on this volume. This text gives us many reasons for encouragement.

Q: The book’s title «Arise! Let Us Go!» is original. How do you interpret it?

Father Rossini: At the start of this millennium, the Pope took the Church, his brother bishops, and all persons of good will by the hand to look at the future, to learn to see that optimism which God introduces in history, to see that it is he who guides the history of humanity. This is what explains the title.

The elderly Pope, ever more conditioned by age and illness, who continues his course, is the first one to invite us to be optimists.

«Arise! Let Us Go!» he tells us. «This is the moment to arise» in the world of culture, of catechesis, of young people, in all sectors. … This is the message of this book of memoirs which he now gives us.

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