.- In Italy, the pre-Christmas release of the book "The Courage to Speak Out - Stories of ex-Scientologists" was met with a promise from the National Church of Scientology of Italy to bring legal action against the author and "whomever has assisted her." A spokeswoman for the book's publisher told CNA that, as of yet, no such action has been taken against them.
"The Courage to Speak Out" includes stories from 14 ex-members of the Church of Scientology. It is the second volume from Maria Pia Gardini that relates first-hand perspectives from inside this church. The first edition, titled "My Years in Scientology," was based on her own time as a member.
Both books were co-authored by Alberto Laggia and put into print by the Italian publishing house of Pauline Publications, run by the Daughters of St. Paul. The religious order, started by James Alberione in 1915, has a worldwide presence and is dedicated to using modern communication media to spread the Gospel and promote a message of peace, solidarity and fraternity. As a part of their work they operate publishing houses and book stores across the globe.
The publication of the latest volume from Gardini was so ill-received by the National Church of Scientology of Italy that following its release, Luigi Brambani, from the organization's local public affairs office, released a statement threatening legal action against Maria Pia Gardini and "whomever has assisted her with activities that the Church considers detrimental to its image."
Brambani's Dec. 8 message also alleged that Gardini "has for years publicly spread falsehoods and libel, creating and encouraging a climate of hatred and discrimination against the Church of Scientology."
According to the spokeswoman, the Church of Scientology also reacted openly to the publication of Gardini's first book in September of 2007.
Speaking to CNA, the head of the press office for Pauline Publications in Italy, Sr. Beatrice Salvioni, said that the company is unaware of any legal action to date.
Sr. Salvioni also defended the decision to publish the book, despite the negative reaction from the church.
"The volume does not contain unfounded or defamatory news so we decided to publish it,” she explained to CNA in an email, citing no other motive for publishing the book besides that of informing the public and spreading awareness of such groups to the largest audience possible.
The charism of the Daughters of St. Paul, the sister stated, is "to utilize cultural instruments and information in service of the Gospel," and this service is completed by offering instruments of knowledge, reflection and cultural insight.
Despite the complaints, Sr. Salvioni pointed out that "it won't be up to the reactions of Scientology to determine the choices of the editor and this is not because we wish to be noticed, but because we carry out a service to the Church and to society."
In a Jan. 2 press release the Church of Scientology reported that it has doubled its global presence in the last five years, which now includes 8,000 institutions in 165 countries. The Church of Scientology was founded by the American author L. Ron Hubbard in 1954.