02/18/2005, 00.00
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Pope's new book : Europe's nihilism, abortion as a new Holocaust

In his fifth book, Pope John Paul II warns Eastern Europe to guard against the nihilism of the West.  Permissive abortion laws compared to Nazi violence against man and against the Jews.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The Pope's new book "Memory and Identity: Conversations Between Millenniums," in print next week in Italy, is being awaited with great anticipation.  According to reports, in his fifth book, the Pope warns Eastern Europe to guard against the nihilism that dominates in the West.  He also compares the abortion laws that exist in  many states to Nazism, the bane of abortion to a new Holocaust.  For John Paul II, both phenomena arise from governments in conflict with "the law of God."

In Poland, Znak publishing house will release the book on March 11 and provided a Polish version to Associated Press, which published various excerpts.

Memory and Identity – 140 pages in its Italian version – is not an autobiography, nor an essay, but the edited version of a lengthy set of exchanges between John Paul II and Polish philosophers Krysztof Michalski and Jozef Tischner.  In the book, the Pope reflects with his friends on his experiences during the past century, including the assassination attempt against him in 1981, the century struggles across the 20th century against Nazism and Communism and in favour of human life.

The Pope looks at the countries freed from Soviet domination and Communism at the end of the Cold War – including his native Poland, with its large Catholic majority – and says that they must now resist the secularized cultural influences of Western Europe.  "The basic threat facing Central Europe now is having its identity subdued…What is the risk?  It is uncritically falling under the influence of negative cultural patterns spread in the West."  He writes that during the struggle against Communism, "this part of Europe has completed a task of spiritual maturing thanks to which certain values important for human life were devalued less than in the West.  There the conviction that God is the highest guarantor of human dignity and man's right is still alive."

John Paul II also continues his defence of life and compares legislation permitting abortion with the Holocaust, Nazi Germany's murder of 6 million Jews during World War II.

"It was a legally elected parliament," the Pope writes according to excerpts quoted by AP, "which allowed for the election of Hitler in Germany in the 1930s and then the same Reichstag that gave Hitler powers which paved a way for the political invasion of Europe, for the creation of concentration camps and for introducing the so-called 'final solution' of the Jewish question, which meant the extermination of millions of sons and daughters of Israel."   The pope continued, "We have to question the legal regulations that have been decided in the parliaments of present day democracies. The most direct association which comes to mind is the abortion laws. ... Parliaments which create and promulgate such laws must be aware that they are transgressing their powers and remain in open conflict with the law of God and the law of nature."

Memory and Identity is the fourth volume of reminiscences and reflections published by John Paul II during his pontificate. Crossing the Threshold of Hope, based on an extensive interview with Italian journalist Vittorio Messori, appeared in 1994 and has been translated into 32 languages with more than 20 million copies sold.  His other works are Gift and Mystery, a meditation on 50 years of priesthood (1996); Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way, about his experiences as a bishop (2004). Pope John Paul has also produced poetic work, most recently Roman Tryptic, which appeared in 2003.

All income from sales of the Pope's books goes to charitable efforts. A large portion of the royalties from his latest book went to rebuild both Catholic and Orthodox churches that had been destroyed during combat in the Balkans.
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