First Person Life

2006-01-23

Vatican decides to 'cash in' on the Word of God.

Apparently, the Vatican has decided to "cash in" (TimesOnline,UK) on the Word of God as it is spread.

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Under new rules, those publishing books or other works with quotations from any Pope of the last 50 years must negotiate rights at a cost of between 3 and 5 percent of the publication price. This includes books that are currently in print, as one publisher found out when they received an invoice from the Vatican for 15,000 Euro for an anthology that contained 30 lines from Benedict's speach to the conclave that elected him.

Of course, newspapers will be able to continue to quote from official documents after they have been released, but only by "prior agreement." And, according to the article linked above, the rule applies not only to papal encyclicals, "but also the Pope’s homilies at his weekly audiences on Wednesdays, and his addresses at Angelus prayers on Sundays."

This introduces a number of questions -- just who owns the Word of God? In what sense should sermons and other similar material be considered "intellectual property" to be sold for profit? Where do we draw the line?

I realize, St. Paul said, "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. " (I Cor. 9:14 KJV), but he did so in the context of saying that he didn't assert this right among the Corinthians. I realize it is the will of God that those who benefit from the Gospel should share with the one who shared the Gospel with them. But to what extent should that be enforced and at what point is it self-enriching versus subsistence?

Any authors out there who have given this serious thought?

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