1.23.2006

From the Church That Used To Make the Poor Pay To Free Relatives from 'Hells' It Invented...
Is Greed Really a Surprise?


The Vatican's walls aren't gilded in charity and good intentions. That's gold. How do you think it paid for that? Donations? Maybe. But if your aquisitions of wealth come only by burning the donor at the stake or hacking his family to pieces, you can't really call them "donations"...

Vatican 'Cashes in' by Putting Price on the Pope's Copyright

from Times UK

The Vatican has been accused of trying to cash in on the Pope's words after it decided to impose strict copyright on all papal pronouncements.

For the first time all papal documents, including encyclicals, will be governed by copyright invested in the official Vatican publishing house, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

The edict covers Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, which is to be issued this week amid huge international interest. The edict is retroactive, covering not only the writings of the present pontiff — as Pope and as cardinal — but also those of his predecessors over the past 50 years. It therefore includes anything written by John Paul II, John Paul I, Paul VI, and John XXIII.

The decision was denounced yesterday for treating the Pope's words as "saleable merchandise" and endangering the Church's mission to "spread the Christian message."

A Milanese publishing house that had issued an anthology containing 30 lines from Pope Benedict's speech to the conclave that elected him and an extract from his enthronement speech is reported to have been sent a bill for €15,000 (£10,000). This was made up of 15 per cent of the cover price of each copy sold plus "legal expenses" of €3,500.

Vittorio Messori, who has co-authored works with Pope Benedict and John Paul II, said that he was "perplexed and alarmed...This is wholly negative and absolutely disastrous for the Vatican's image." A pope's words should be available to all free of charge, he said, and to "cash in in this way surrounds the clergy with the odour of money."

Publishers will have to negotiate a levy of between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the cover price of any book or publication "containing the Pope’s words." Those who infringe the copyright face legal action and a higher levy of 15 per cent.

The Union of Italian Catholic Publishers and Booksellers said that it had not been consulted, and that the edict "flies in the face of what we do — spreading the Pope's message to the world."

A Vatican spokesman said that the Holy See had to defend itself against "pirated editions." The move is also aimed at "premature publication." Journalists accredited to the Vatican are handed papal texts under embargo. The Vatican said that if embargos were broken in future not only would the journalist face sanctions but also his or her publication would face legal action.

Officials said that newspapers would be free to publish extracts from papal documents without charge once they were officially released, but only by "prior agreement." The rules cover not only encyclicals — the most authoritative papal pronouncements, issued in Latin — but also the Pope's homilies at his weekly audiences on Wednesdays, and his addresses at Angelus prayers on Sundays.


You know, the pope's jewels don't polish themselves...

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