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Gossipy book about Vatican is hot seller

ROME (AP) -- Eager for juicy stories, the public has done what a court order from the Holy See failed to do: cleared store bookshelves of a gossipy, insider look at cardinals and other top Vatican officials.

A decree, issued by a Holy See tribunal, orders one of the alleged authors, an Italian monsignor who retired two years ago after 45 years at the Vatican, to ensure that "Gone with the Wind in the Vatican" is taken off store shelves.The book appeared a few months ago to little fanfare, but after the retired cleric, Monsignor Luigi Marinelli, said Saturday he had been told to appear with a lawyer at a Vatican court hearing July 16, the book rushed off store shelves.

The 288-page volume paints some prelates as greedy for power and lacking in virtue, with vignettes ranging from a prelate being stopped at the border with Switzerland carrying a suitcase stuffed with cash to a bishop denounced in court by a youth for alleged sexual abuse. The identities are disguised -- more or less.

At Feltrinelli, a large chain bookstore, customers were told that the book had sold out in all three central Rome stores.

"We're calling the publisher Monday to find out if they have more copies," said employee Luigi D'Amico.

The daily, largely secret, workings of the world behind the Vatican's fortified walls were intriguing even Milan, where stylists and financiers, not clergy and bureaucrats, usually make news.

At Feltrinelli's branch on Milan's central Via Manzoni, clerk Giovanni Mazza said 30 customers had requested the book Sunday morning, and all had left the store empty-handed.