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Learning English - Words in the News
23 February, 2005 - Published 11:59 GMT
Pope's controversial new book
Pope John Paul II

A new book entitled 'Memory and Identity' by Pope John Paul is being published in Italy this week. In it, the Pope states that he believes the attempt on his life was commissioned by someone other than his would-be assassin, Ali Aja. This report from David Willey:

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In the last chapter of his latest book the Pope gives a graphic account of the events immediately after he was shot in St Peters' Square in May 1981. He says he lost consciousness on the way to the hospital and says he was practically dying when he was given a life saving blood transfusion.

The Pope describes vividly his meeting later with the Turkish gunman, Ali Aja, who tried to kill him. John Paul says that Aja could not understand how the attempt to kill him had failed after very careful planning and execution. The Pope speculates that Aja probably realised that there was a higher power at work.

Most of the book is a meditation about the problem of evil in European history. At Tuesday’s book launch in Rome, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of John Paul's closest advisors, says the Pope's forgiveness of his assassin was deeply symbolic.

Three hundred thousand copies of the first edition of the book have been printed in Italy. It's been translated into ten languages and seems set to become a best seller even though the rather dense philosophical arguments do not make it an easy read.

David Willey, BBC News, Rome

Listen to the words

a graphic account
very clear and powerful description

almost or very nearly

very clear, powerful and detailed

carrying out or doing something

guesses (although there is not enough knowledge to be certain)

a piece of deep thought on a subject expressed in speech or writing

book launch
the book was brought to public attention

set to become
likely to be

best seller
a book which sells a lot of copies

profound, difficult to understand

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