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23 February, 2005 - Published 11:59 GMT
Pope's controversial new book
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:
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
a graphic account
set to become