Pope John Paul II Gunman Would Like to Convert to Christianity

The gunman who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II would like to convert to Christianity at a baptism ceremony at the Vatican after his release from prison in January, according to his lawyer.

Over the years, Mehmet Ali Agca has made frequent claims that he is the Messiah or Jesus Christ, raising questions about his mental health and leading to speculation that he had converted to Christianity.

"Agca is not formally a Christian," lawyer Haci Ali Ozhan told The Associated Press. "When he converts, he would like a baptism ceremony at the Vatican," Ozhan said, relaying comments Agca made during a recent prison meeting.

He declined to comment on Agca's mental state.

Agca shot and seriously wounded John Paul in St. Peter's Square 28 years ago, on May 13, 1981. The late pope met with Agca in an Italian prison in 1983 and forgave him.

Agca is currently serving a prison term for killing Turkish journalist Abdi Ipekci. The gunman is due to be released on Jan. 18, 2010.