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Pope salutes L'Osservatore on 150th anniversary

June 30, 2011

L’Osservatore Romano must act as “a paper of ideas, an organ of formation and not only of information,” Pope Benedict XVI said in a message to the paper’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, as the Vatican newspaper prepared to celebrate its 150th anniversary.

The first edition of L’Osservatore Romano appeared on July 1, 1861. That time was, Pope Benedict observed, a turbulent period for the papacy, and a time when the political forces of the world seemed to be arrayed against the Vatican. In his congratulatory message, the Pope noted that from the outset the newspaper was guided by both a willingness to embrace differing opinions and a determination to uphold Catholic truth. The Pontiff called attention to the two mottos that have appeared on the newspaper’s masthead: Unicuique suum [to each his own] and Non praevalebunt [they shall not prevail].

During the 150 years of the newspaper’s existence, “the world has changed profoundly,” the Pope said, “especially in the communications and information sector.” But L’Osservatore Romano has remained as a clear voice of the Church. That service has been particularly valuable, the Pope said, during times of war and turmoil in the 20th century, when the clash of ideologies and propaganda caused widespread confusion. Pope Benedict quoted the words of Cardinal Giovanni Montini in 1961, two years before his election as Pope Paul VI:

It was like what happens when all the lights in a room are switched off and only one is left one: everyone’s gaze is directed to the one left on; and fortunately this was the light of the Vatican, the calm bright light fed by the apostolic light of Peter.

L’Osservatore Romano must continue the same service today, the Pope wrote, in an era “frequently marked by the lack of reference points and the removal of God from the horizon of many societies, even of those with an ancient Christian tradition.” Pope Benedict cited several specific areas in which the newspaper’s coverage is needed, calling for attention “to the Christian East, to the irreversible ecumenical commitment of the different churches and ecclesial communities, to the constant quest for friendship and collaboration with Judaism and with the other religions, to discussion and to cultural exchanges, to the voice of women and to bioethical topics that give rise to questions crucial to us all.”


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