BY VIVIANE HEWITT IN ROME
THE VATICAN MAY withdraw the German edition of Pope John Paul II's bestseller, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, because it contains toy many errors.
There is speculation in Rome that, because so many of the mistakes in the German translation verge on "heresy", the book-interview with the Pope may have fallen victim to what observers here are calling sabotage.
Published simultaneously in several languages, Crossing the Threshold of Hope was said to have been "reviewed and approved" by the Vatican before each translation was presented for sale.
The book, published by Jonathan Cape in English, has already sold several million copies worldwide, but the German edition will have to undergo total revision, Vatican sources said this week.
Errors include the title of the 12th chapter: the correct English version, "What Does `To Save' Mean?", becomes "This is How He Saves Himself" in German.
Another glaring misinterpretation appears in the chapter entitled "Is There Really Hope in the Young?" The English version quoted the Pope correctly as saying: "What I am going to say to you is not as important as what you are going to say to me". This in German becomes: "What I am saying is not important at all". The "Prince of Darkness" becomes "principle of darkness" in the German edition and "a theistic interpretation of the world" becomes "atheistic interpretation".
The passage "The mission of evangelisation is an essential part of the Church. The Second Vatican Council made this point in a colourful way by affirming that 'the Church by her nature is missionary' " is cut back to "The Second Vatican Council proposed a formula which is very close to the truth" in the German translation.
One of the most fundamental points of the whole book was also distorted by the inclusion of a question mark which does not appear in the Pope's original version, in Polish. The Pope asks: "Why should we have no fear?" And he answers: "Because man has been redeemed by God". The answer in the German translation becomes a second question.
A decision is now pending on the withdrawal of the book, which was handled in Germany by a publishing house known for its promotion of anti-Catholic works by controversial theologians.
Secretariat sources in Rome told the Catholic Herald this week that language experts had "noted the misinterpretations and did what they could to correct the worst of them".
The sources said that a completely new German translation of Crossing the Threshold of Hope would be the only solution.