'Memory and Identity'

 Pope to publish new book : 'Memory and Identity'

Next Spring, the Pope is publishing a new book: 'Memory and Identity. Conversation between Millenniums,' Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair yesterday.

The book will be published by the Italian publishing house Rizzoli, which published the Pope's "Opera omnia filosofica," a volume of over 1,000 pages, as well as other texts on literary criticism written by Karol Wojtyla.

The book, according to Navarro-Valls, is a work on the philosophy of history, in which the Pope considers topics such as modern democracy, liberty and human rights, the diverse concepts of nation, fatherland and the state, the more than functional relationship between nation and culture, the rights of man, the relationship between Church and state. The common theme is one that characterizes all of John Paul's philosophical and literary works: the great mystery of man.

Asked how the book came about, the director of the Holy See Press Office said it was a result of conversations the Pope had with two Polish friends, Professors Josef Tishner and Krystof Michalski, in his summer residence at Castelgandolfo in 1993.

"The two intellectuals asked the Holy Father questions and he responded," said Navarro-Valls. The conversations were recorded and later transcribed. The manuscript was saved for some years until the Pope read it and decided to make it into a book after having made some corrections.

Although the book makes reference to situations and facts on other continents, the Pope, said Navarro-Valls, is primarily thinking of Europe, in the dynamism of ideas that sometimes remain latent over the centuries and that explain realities that would otherwise be inexplicable. Among the questions that the Pope addresses are themes on life and modern thought. The Pope answers these questions with intellectual rigour. "We must learn," he writes, "to go to the roots."

In 'Memory and Identity,' said Navarro-Valls, the Pope looks for these roots, and at his relationship to the terrible moments in our recent history, as well as the "innumerable positive fruits" which have been the result of Western history. The book causes the reader to think about the great problem of finding the meaning of history. From this point of view, the author makes an inestimable contribution to understanding the great historic questions of our age.

The director of the Holy See Press Office said that in the book John Paul II writes about the ideologies of evil, national socialism and communism, and he explores their roots and the regimes that resulted. In addition, he makes a theological and philosophical reflection about how the presence of evil often ends up being an invitation to do good. "Sometimes evil, in certain moments of human existence, reveals itself as useful. Useful in the measure in which it creates an occasion to do good," says the Pope in a excerpt from the book.

In presenting the volume, Navarro-Valls said that John Paul II is the first Pope to have books published commercially. 'Memory and Identity' is his fifth book after 'Crossing the Threshold of Hope,' 'Gift and Mystery,' 'Roman Triptych' and 'Arise and Let us be Going.'

Source: VIS

First published FRANKFURT - 8 October 2004 - 343 words

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