Pope Francis’ words are grabbing the attention of American publishing houses as well of the U.S. bishops’ conference communications office, according to the Vatican Publishing House.
“I would say that Pope Francis grabs a lot of interest in the world of publishers,” Fr. Giuseppe Costa, director of Libreria Editrice Vaticana – Vatican Publishing House – told CNA March 4.
Libreria Editrice Vaticana is the Holy See’s publisher, responsible for publishing the documents of the Roman Pontiff and the Holy See.
Fr. Costa stressed that he found it “interesting that there is a great examination into purchasing the rights to Pope’s words -- even if we are talking about ‘secondhand’ rights and not exclusive rights, since everyone can find the Pope’s speeches on the Vatican website.”
Fr. Costa traveled to the U.S. last month for the Mid Atlantic Congress of Catholic Leaders, held in Baltimore Feb. 27 – March 1.
He recounted that “the meetings discussed the problematic issues of the Church today, and the need for an interior renewal of the Church.”
Many Catholic publishers took part in the meeting, and Libreria Editrice Vaticana met “about 20 publishers who showed great interest in Pope Francis.” The publisher signed agreements for the publication of books collecting the speeches of the Pope’s Magisterium, which have been already edited in Italian.
“The most requested book” by publishers, he said, “is the collection of Pope Francis’ daily homilies in Domus Sanctae Marthae, which Libreria Editrice Vaticana published in Italian, collecting the text of the syntheses sketched by L’Osservatore Romano.”
In any case, Fr. Costa added, “every Catholic publisher has published some books of Pope Francis’ Magisterium, or his biography.”
The publishers can use “the Pope’s official texts contained in the Vatican website,” he said. “The typical edition for the diverse languages is given by the text published on the Internet.”
According to Fr. Costa, each publication of Pope Francis’ work sells “approximately from 500,000 to 2 million copies around the world,” considering all the editions in the diverse languages – some 11 or 12 translations.
There are not yet data about the number of copies sold of the apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” though the encyclical “Lumen Fidei” sold approximately 2 million copies around the world.
During his time in Baltimore, Fr. Costa also met the representatives of the U.S. bishops’ conference communications department, which “is going to work on several publications in view of the World Day for Families in Philadelphia, scheduled in September 2015.”
He added that “Pope Francis may go to Philadelphia to take part in the World Day of Families.”
The rights to the words of the Popes are property of Libreria Editrice Vaticana, which was founded in 1926.
With the accession of Bl. John Paul II in 1978, the role of the publishing house expanded, from being limited to texts of the Holy See and the Magisterium, to all of the works of the newly-elected Bishop of Rome.
And little more than a month after the election of Benedict XVI, the Vatican Secretary of State issued a decree noting that Libreria Editrice Vaticana “has been entrusted with the exercise and custody, permanently and throughout the world, of every moral copyright and of all the exclusive financial rights - without any exception - over all the deeds and documents through which the Supreme Pontiff exercises his own Magisterium.”
“To discharge this office, the Vatican Publishing House … acts in the name and interests of the Holy See, with the authority to undertake any act for the disposition of the said rights, to initiate legal and judicial proceedings, to propose any action in order to ensure the full protection and realization of these rights and to resist any claim or request from third parties, in conformity with the norms of the international treaties and conventions to which the Holy See adheres.”