The Pope wants his money, too

Monday, January 30, 2006 at 09:18 AM

It somehow seems odd to come across a headline "Vatican Charges Publisher $18,000 for Quoting Pope," on a religious news wire service.  

La Stampa, a Turin newspaper, apparently reported that the Vatican's publishing division billed a Milan-based publisher the euro equivalent of about $18,000 for having printing a total of 30 lines from speeches that now Pope Benedict delivered when he was Cardinal Ratzinger to (1) fellow cardinals immediately before they met to choose a new pope, and (2) during his subsequent inauguration ceremony.

The wire service report states that the Vatican publishing arm released a statement Jan. 23 explaining that the bill was based on a Vatican decree "in which the Holy See assumed full copyrights to all of Benedict's past, present and future writings and pronouncements."

The May, 2005 decree was reportedly enacted in December and "could also apply to news organizations that regularly quote the German pontiff. It was unclear, however, if the Vatican intended to enforce the new policy on journalists" or "if the Vatican reserved the right to take legal action against news organizations that publish leaked material, such as lengthy encyclicals and instructions."  The new policy charges 3-5% of a book's cover price to quote the pontiff at length.

No word as yet on whether God planned to seek compensation from the Gentleman who signed his name on a voter registration card as "God."  Also no word on whether George Bush plans to charge the man with impersonating the president.