· Our newspaper's mission reaffirmed by Cardinal Bertone at the Mass for its 150th anniversary ·
“ Thanksgiving to God for all the good he has deigned to spread throughout the Church and in society through ‘L’Osservatore Romano’” was expressed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, at the Mass he celebrated in the Vatican’s Pauline Chapel, on Friday morning, 1 July, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Italian daily newspaper ‘L’Osservatore Romano’. The following is a translation of the Secretary of State’s homily which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this important liturgical commemoration of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this morning I have the joy of celebrating the Eucharist for you, the members of the working community of L’Osservatore Romano. I cordially greet the Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Vian, and the Assistant Editor, Carlo Di Cicco, as well as the General Director, my confrere, Fr Pietro Migliasso; I greet the editors, those in charge of the weekly editions, all the journalists, the photographers, the technicians and the whole of your large family which this year is celebrating the newspapers 150th anniversary.
The sentiment with which we are celebrating this Holy Mass today is therefore, precisely, one of thanksgiving to God for all the good he has deigned to spread throughout the Church and in society through L’Osservatore Romano . This deep gratitude is of course also extended to the printers and is addressed to those who, from the origins to our time, have directed and brought out the newspaper every day.
I willingly offer this Eucharistic sacrifice for the deceased, remembering their journey on earth at the service of this important editorial enterprise.
I myself can say that throughout my life I have been accompanied by L’Osservatore Romano. At home in Romano Canavese L’Osservatore Romano was already being delivered to our house before I was born, addressed to Pietro Bertone, organist, the only subscriber in the village. Several years later he was joined by a priest, Fr Paolo Bellono, and L’Osservatore Romano accompanied me through the years.
Later, I myself became a contributor to L’Osservatore Romano . We could gather my articles together; and then L’Osservatore Romano has punctuated all the stages of my life, even to the present stage as Secretary of State of His Holiness. So it was that my own history fitted into the history of the Church, alongside L’Osservatore Romano .
I would like to draw from the biblical Readings of this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart an idea for reflection on the 150th anniversary of the daily newspaper. There is the important message of the Pope; there will be his visit, during which he will say a few words to you. The First Reading is from chapter 7 of the Book of Deuteronomy. The Lord, through the mouth of Moses, declares to Israel his special love and also explains the reason for this election. We might say that the popes have had a special love for L’Osservatore Romano and have said so on several occasions. The Lord says “you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; but it is because the Lord loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers”.
This word of the Lord illuminates the mystery of the Church. Having calculated the due proportions, may it also illuminate the reality of a newspaper such as L’Osservatore Romano, which came into being and lives within the ecclesial sphere, indeed, close to the Successor of Peter and at his service. Consequently this “most unusual” paper, as Paul VI described it, is on the one hand “in the world”, that is, it is a newspaper like others, yet on the other hand it is different from all other dailies, and is unusual, indeed unique. This unusualness is not due to technical or material aspects but comes from its own specific mission, to see the world from the Holy See’s viewpoint, as its very name says: L’Osservatore Romano [Roman Observer]. Whoever reads it, anywhere in the world, in every country and in every region, even the most remote, can find in it the viewpoint of the Pope and of the Apostolic See.
Yesterday I received representatives of the Maldives, of Malawi and of other countries and therefore wherever we may happen to be it is possible to have the perspective of the Pope and of the Apostolic See, a pastoral outlook, which also becomes cultural, moral and political in a lofty and broad sense.
This unique situation demands of those who direct it and of all who work for it constant spiritual and moral vigilance, in order, as Jesus would say, for it to be in the world but not of the world. In this regard we may refer to the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Christians of Rome; and you are in Rome, you work here in Rome even if you do not all come from Rome, but we may all call ourselves Romans: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).
I consider that for the lay faithful and for everyone, this is the most exciting challenge, even if it is the most demanding. I believe, in fact, that for you what stems from your duty to produce a newspaper such as L’Osservatore Romano may be an ever renewed motivation. And when I say this I am thinking of everyone: from the Editor-in-Chief to anyone who takes a photograph or writes an article or a column.
L’Osservatore Romano is not a great and powerful newspaper according to the world’s criteria but it is important in God’s eyes and in those of a wide sector of the public, because it looks at things from the perspective of the Successor of Peter. For this reason I also urge you always to renew your mentality in accordance with the evangelical and ecclesial criteria, on the basis of an intense personal life, in conformity with evangelical and ecclesial criteria. In this area, in fact, our fidelity to the truth must never be taken for granted. On the contrary, being close to the heart of Christianity demands even greater watchfulness and a commitment to consistence.
The Holy Father Benedict XVI is a model for all of us of what it means to communicate the mystery clearly and deeply, reasonably and faithfully because first of all he lives this mystery. You have heard and read at least a few passages of the very beautiful homily he gave on 29 June on friendship, friendship with God first of all, friendship with the Lord and friendship among ourselves. His example is truly attractive to us all and extremely precious.
Dear friends, let us abide in the Heart of Christ, let us abide in his love! He has assured us that if we stay united to him we can bear much fruit. With the constant support of the Virgin Mary, I hope you will be able to live your daily work as a practical service to spreading the truth and charity of Christ, with the humble awareness that in this way you are working effectively for the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The staff of L'Osservatore Romano celebrated the newpaper's 150th anniversary with a special Mass in the Vatican's Pauline Chapel.
This chapel, normally closed to the public, is decorated with what are said to be the last frescoes painted by Michelangelo: the Conversion of Saul and the Crucifixion of St Peter. The restoration of these frescoes was completed in 2009.
Prof. Giovanni Maria Vian briefly outlined the origins of what today is known as “the Pope's newspaper” in his initial greeting to the Cardinal. The newspaper's anniversary coincides with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart and also with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Secretary of State's ordination to the priesthood.
For the 150th anniversary a special 100-page issue in Italian with coloured photographs was printed.
Staff members of L'Osservatore Romano read the Readings and the bidding prayers in their various languages. Mary Nolan represented the English-language edition. Fr Pietro Migliasso, sdb, General Director of the Vatican Press, Fr Arturo Gutiérrez Gómez, Editor of the Spanish edition and Fr Władisław Gryzło, Editor of the Polish edition concelebrated with Cardinal Bertone and his secretaries.
St. Peter’s Square
April 24, 2019
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