In the past, we have noted how even the heirs of latter-day saints such as Martin Luther King have charged money for allowing people to quote their words of wisdom. And now the Pope has got in on the act too.
The Times has the story -- or a version of it, because it will doubtless be reported all over. The Vatican has decided that the pronouncements of the current Pope, and his predecessors for some fifty years, shall henceforth be declared copyright.
In fact more than henceforth. Hence backwards too. A Milanese publishing house that had issued an anthology containing 30 lines from Pope Benedict’s speech to the conclave that elected him, plus 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.
Fifteen percent of the cover price of each copy sold? Seems a bit steep, doesn't it? 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.'
Well, far be it from me to worry about the Vatican's image but I'm inclined to agree.