Few authors can boast that Pope Benedict helped sell their books, but the pontiff's shock resignation has boosted interest in all things Catholic just as veteran Vatican journalist John Thavis is about to publish, reports Reuters on Yahoo7.
The Vatican Diaries, a behind-the-scenes look at the faith's fabled nerve centre, goes on sale on February 21, just one week before the pope takes the nearly unprecedented step of quitting as the head of the world's largest church.
Thavis, who covered the Vatican for 30 years until retiring from his post as bureau chief for the Catholic News Service last year, had long known Benedict believed a pope could resign and worried he might do it before the book came out.
But he says he was as shocked as anyone else when the pope announced his decision on Monday. The book is not an analysis of the soon-to-end pontificate, but the stories it tells amount to what Thavis calls "a mosaic history of Benedict's papacy."
Thavis, who came to Rome from the US to promote the book, spoke to Reuters at the Vatican press office.
What does it feel like to have Pope Benedict as your PR agent?
"My friends have all emailed me telling me the pope is my best PR agent. I have to assure them that I did not arrange this. The fact my book is coming out now is perfect timing but it's definitely unplanned. I don't have the gift of prophesy. I worried what effect it might have if the pope were to resign."
Did you have any hint he would resign now?
"I always thought he would resign. He spoke about it in a book two years ago. Then he put the trip to Cuba and Mexico on his agenda and I thought he wouldn't. But when he suddenly named six new cardinals last November, I asked people in Rome if he was thinking about resignation. They didn't seem to be too concerned.
But I followed what was and what wasn't on the pope's calendar and by January I was quite concerned. I planned this trip to Rome because I thought February 22 would be a likely time. That's the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, which is the feast associated with the authority of the pope."
FULL STORY Resignation a PR coup for veteran Vatican journalist (Yahoo7)