Book Deals With Pope's "Inner Being," Says Aide

“Memory and Identity” Is Fruit of 1993 Conversations

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ROME, FEB. 23, 2005 ( John Paul II’s new book, “Memory and Identity,” is a biography of his “inner being,” says Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

The director of the Vatican press office made that assessment Tuesday when presenting the volume to the press.

He explained that the book was the result of conversations the Pope had with Polish philosophers Jozef Tischner and Krzysztof Michalsk, in the gardens of Castel Gandolfo, the summer papal residence, in 1993. The Pope has made some changes and additions to the material recorded at that time.

“Why did the Pope wait so long to publish it?” Navarro Valls asked rhetorically.

“He wished to have time to reflect, to perceive the dimensions of the historical events, and to go to the root” of the issues, the spokesman said.

Navarro Valls called the book a “biography” of John Paul II’s “inner being.”

“It has two parts, one is more theoretical and consists of 10 chapters; the other has more recent historical references,” he said.

“Throughout the book he addresses the problem of evil, more specifically, the coexistence of good and evil, not a physical but a moral evil, stemming from free human decision,” the Vatican spokesman added.

The Pope suggests that one should emerge from “ideologies to understand them,” and he encourages his readers to see how evil is limited. “God has set limits to evil,” noted Navarro Valls, paraphrasing the Holy Father.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger amplified this view of evil by reminding his listeners that “redemption is the key word of all of John Paul II’s thought” and, from this perspective, “evil becomes an instrument for good.”

Navarro Valls added: “I don’t know if the Pope is writing anything else. It wouldn’t surprise me, as he has written much all his life.”

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