ROME – An Italian priest who runs a music label specializing in religious songs said on Monday that Michael Jackson could be one of several artists to sing on a CD of Pope John Paul II's prayers, but cautioned that the project is "only a small idea" that has yet to be run by the Vatican for approval.
The label Edizioni Musicali Terzo Millennio has in past years produced CDs of famous actors reciting poems composed by the late pontiff. Now, the Rev. Giuseppe Moscati said he is considering producing a CD in which singers perform songs with lyrics drawn from 24 prayers penned by John Paul.
"It is only a hope, an idea," Moscati said in a telephone interview. He stressed that the recording label would have to buy the rights from the Vatican.
"We still have to propose this to the Vatican," Moscati said. He added that any production would have to show "respect for the greatness of John Paul."
The priest said music industry contacts of his had inquired about Jackson's participation, but said, "we haven't met him or heard from him."
Jackson spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said that "about a year ago, (Jackson) was contacted by the Vatican to work on some music. Because he was in trial at the time, he was not able to focus on it."
The pop star was acquitted in June of child molestation charges in California after a five-month trial.
Bain added: "I am not aware there has been any recent inquiry."
Vatican officials said they were unaware of any contacts with Jackson.
Moscati declined to name other artists who might contribute to the album.