It’s not easy being the Pope, you know. Not only do you have to act for Him Upstairs, but you have to make your own decisions, too. For example, you have to decide which publisher is going to get your First Book As Pope - and it’s an important decision. There’s only one first time, after all.
Of course, if your decision seems a bit peculiar, you can rely on your position as spokesman for Him Upstairs to deflect the criticism. Can’t you? After all, you speak for yourself, but even when you’re speaking for yourself, you also speak for him. (For Him? Oh, you know what I mean.)
An agreement was reached with an Italian publisher for the worldwide rights to Benedict’s book in November, but it’s only now that it’s been passed on to a worldwide publishing house. And the publisher in question? Doubleday. Who are part of Random House. You know - the publishers of “The Da Vinci Code”, the book that prompted hysterical warnings that it would turn people against Catholicism.
Italian newspaper Il Giornale headlined the news as: “A ‘Ratzinger Code’ by Dan Brown’s Publisher” which prompted the Vatican’s publishing house to issue a statement. They point out that Doubleday also publish “The Catechism of the Catholic Church”, not to mention works by Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. The best part of the statement, though, is the part that says, “On account of this respectful editorial curriculum, Doubleday deeply desired to publish also the first book by Benedict XVI.”
Of course they did. There’s no double standard at Doubleday.
In the proposed preface to Pope Benedict’s First Book, he apparently points out it is a simple, personal work, meant for general Catholic readers and “absolutely not an act” of church authority: “everyone is free to contradict me.” Oh, good. And the title of his simple, personal work? “Jesus of Nazareth”.
Nothing to worry about there, then - no chance of anyone listening to THE POPE’S personal opinions on that small subject. Though Dan Brown might find it of interest: Random House are waiting for a followup to “The Da Vinci Code”, after all.