· Vatican City ·

1 July 1861-2021

160 years of looking to the future The ‘party newspaper’

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03 July 2021

In an unpublished interview Pope Francis talks about his ‘party newspaper’


“A newspaper of the streets”, or “a newspaper that is able to go outside, into the streets, to see history, touch history and reflect on history: today’s and yesterday’s”. This is how Pope Francis sees ‘L'Osservatore Romano’, his newspaper, “the party newspaper”, as he likes to describe it. He shared his thoughts in an interview with director, Francesco Zippel, who is filming a documentary, produced by Dazzle Communications, dedicated to the 160 years of the Holy See newspaper. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s words, which he shared in Italian.

I know the expression is somewhat ambiguous, but I like to call L’Osservatore Romano ‘the party newspaper’. I read it every day and, when it doesn’t come out on Sunday, there’s something missing. Not just now. In Argentina too, I used to read the entire weekly edition in Spanish because I know it is a connection to the Holy See, to the Magisterium and to the life of the Church, to the history of the Church.

The danger is the ‘workshop’. For a newspaper to be current, it cannot be a ‘workshop newspaper’, consisting only of thoughts. It has to be a paper ‘of the streets’, so to speak, but in the figurative sense: a newspaper that is able to go outside, into the streets, to see history, touch history and reflect on history: today’s and yesterday’s. For example, the issue dedicated to the International Holocaust Remembrance Day was a catechesis, a true catechesis for today’s young people: that they may see what has happened over time and what can happen today. It is thus a living newspaper, which helps us; for this reason it cannot be from a workshop or a desk. It has to be of the streets, in order to capture life, and life is taken as it comes, not as I wish it came.

Paul vi said that L’Osservatore Romano is not simply a daily newspaper of information, but is a newspaper of formation, and it is true. Let us consider again the edition that was issued for International Holocaust Remembrance Day: the people who read that piece on remembrance are formed because we are giving them elements of recollections, of remembrance and of history in order to look at the world with that perspective. Therefore yes, a newspaper of formation. It was also good for me to read that issue; there were things that I did not understand well about this and that now, in this way, I understand. A newspaper that trains.

A newspaper that, beyond the work of evangelization, also has a very important diplomatic dimension. Especially in relation to the dissemination of the Pope’s magisterium. I think of Pius xii who spoke of all possible subjects: his was a very rich magisterium. He instructed and taught doctrine through L’Osservatore Romano. I think of Pius xii because I believe he was a revolutionary in this regard: his magisterium was spread from the Church through L’Osservatore Romano. A Pope who would meet with everyone and everyone came to him and he spoke to them, artists, intellectuals, obstetricians… and it was disseminated by L’Osservatore Romano and by Vatican Radio, but it was easier to find this magisterium with the newspaper, which is a tool that persists.

In Argentina there was a weekly summary edition in Spanish. I used to read all of it, from beginning to end. Because I needed to understand. Unfortunately, now it no longer comes out in paper format there. We have to work for L’Osservatore Romano to reach everyone, in everyone’s language. For this, I would like to thank all the people who help us economically for this gift, the benefactors and the businesses who help us.

I read it in order, from the first page to the last. Unless there is something of particular interest. I look for it, but I usually read from the first to the last page and when I finish I say ‘what a shame, it’s over’. I read it at night.

What will L’Osservatore Romano be like in 200 years? I haven’t thought about this; I have never asked myself the question. I hope it will always be topical.