Sunday, December 18, 2005

Here We Go Again

From AFP, a sneak peek at the successor to the DaVinci Code -- and look who's writing the preface....

Pope John Paul I, who died from an apparent heart attack just 33 days after becoming pontiff in 1978, was in fact assassinated over his plans to radically reform the Catholic Church, a novel to be published worldwide next year charges.

Portuguese author and television scriptwriter Luis Miguel Rocha, 29, said he based "The Last Pope" on documents he obtained through an undisclosed Vatican source, which he will make public once the novel is published in April.

The novel expounds the theory that John Paul I had become a threat because he was aware of money laundering involving the Vatican Bank as well as due to his plans to liberalize some aspects of centuries-old Church doctrine.

"He wanted to be the last wealthy pope. John Paul I wanted to redistribute the riches of the Church, open the Church to women and authorize the use of contraceptives," Rocha told AFP in an interview.

The novel depicts John Paul I's assassination as the result of a conspiracy involving top financial officials, several European governments and a Mafia group that counted top officials of the Roman Curia, including the pontiffs personal secretary, as members....

The Portuguese media has already labelled Rocha, who divides his time between London and Portugal's second-city Oporto, as the "new Dan Brown" and the US author has reportedly agreed to write a preface to "The Last Pope".

Elected on the third ballot of the 1978 papal conclave, Pope John Paul I -- born Albino Luciani -- immediately sparked controversy with his refusal to have the traditional papal coronation ceremony, choosing to have a less formal papal inauguration mass instead.

His successor Pope John Paul II, who left a deeply conservative stamp on the Church he led for 26 years until his death in April, opted to copy the low-key ceremony rather than reinstate the millennium-old papal coronation.

"The Last Pope" will be published in April in Portugal, Britain and the United States, Corte Real said.

The English edition alone is expected to sell over two million copies according to forecasts by the book's British publishers, he added.

It's almost too much to take -- but on the bright side, the beat will have another busy year in the '06.