ROME, JAN. 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 is set to be released Monday from a Turkish prison after serving almost 29 years. He said he has contacted the author of “The Da Vinci Code” for help in writing a book.
News of the release of Mehmet Ali Agca, 52, was confirmed by his lawyer, Haci Ali Ozhan.
Agca has said once he is free he wants to do two things: visit John Paul II’s tomb and write two books, including one about his life. For help with this second task, Agca reported that he has contacted Dan Brown, author of the bestselling science fiction work “The Da Vinci Code.”
“I will proclaim the perfect Christianity that Vatican [sic] has never understood,” Agca announced in a handwritten letter sent to The Sunday Times newspaper.
Agca’s 29 years in prison resulted not only from his attempted assassination of the Pope, but also from having killed Abdi Ipekci, director of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, in 1979.
The attack on John Paul II occurred May 13, 1981, when the Pontiff was greeting pilgrims from the popemobile, before beginning the public audience in St. Peter’s Square. There were two shots: The first bullet lodged in his stomach, and the second was deflected by his finger.
For that day, John Paul II had prepared a catechesis dedicated to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the publication of Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum.”
The Pontiff fell back into the arms of his secretary, today a cardinal and the archbishop of Krakow, Stanislaw Dziwisz.
When the Holy Father recovered consciousness, he affirmed he was praying for the brother who shot him and whom he had sincerely forgiven.
During his convalescence, John Paul II dedicated himself to writing the encyclical “Laborem Exercens,” on the rights of workers, which was published Sept. 14 of the same year. Public audiences were suspended until Oct. 7, 1981.
A year after the attack, John Paul II went to Fatima to thank the Virgin for his health. Two years later he visited Agca in prison. Years later, he received the prisoner’s mother, Muzeyen Agca, in a private audience.
John Paul II constantly repeated that one hand shot the bullet at him and another — that of the Virgin of Fatima — deflected it.