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Pope Marks Anniversary With an Autobiography

November 24, 1996|PAUL D. COLFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Paul D. Colford writes for Newsday

Pope John Paul II is marking his 50th anniversary as a Roman Catholic priest by releasing an autobiographical book that recalls the influences that led him to ordination and the joys he has known as a pastor.

Doubleday has announced that on Dec. 11 it will put on sale the pontiff's "Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination."

"This is very much his autobiography as a priest, encompassing not only his religious influences, but also the deaths of his parents, the death of a dear brother and what he did after he was ordained," said Eric Major, Doubleday's director of religious publishing. "The book will both correct and confirm certain parts of the public record about him."

The pope writes in his introduction: "I recall these things above all in order to thank the Lord. . . . I offer this to priests and to the people of God as a testimony of love."

The 144-page hardcover will list for $19.95. Doubleday plans a first printing of 750,000 copies.

Two years ago, the pope's "Crossing the Threshold of Hope," which offered his views on social and religious issues, became a major bestseller. Its North American publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, has more than 2 million copies in print.

Earlier, it was reported that the Vatican planned to mark the pope's milestone--Nov. 1 was the actual anniversary of his ordination--by publishing a book from him about his vocation. Doubleday, which did not disclose the terms of its deal, said it had acquired U.S. and Canadian rights from the Vatican's publisher, Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

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