Pope Lauds L'Osservatore Romano as Guiding Beacon

150 Years: "A Considerable Length of Time for a Daily Newspaper"

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is praising the service to the truth rendered by L'Osservatore Romano, as "the Pope's newspaper" marks its 150th anniversary Friday.

In a message dated June 24 and addressed to Giovanni Maria Vian, editor-in-chief of the daily, the Pope said that "150 years are truly a considerable length of time for a daily newspaper, a long and important journey rich in joys, difficulties, hard work, satisfaction and grace."

The first issue of L'Osservatore was published July 1, 1861.

Benedict XVI's reflection followed an invitation made by his predecessor, Pius XI, when the paper was marking its 75th anniversary: to "'take a look at the ground we have covered and another at the ground that has yet to be covered,' stressing above all the uniqueness and responsibility of a daily which has made known the magisterium of the popes for a century and a half and is one of the privileged instruments at the service of the Holy See and of the Church."

The German Pontiff spoke of the interesting history of the newspaper: its establishment as a private initiative with the support of the papal government, its development when in 1870 the Church's temporal power ended, its growth in prestige when the Holy See acquired ownership of it 15 years later, and its courageous role throughout the various tragedies of the 20th century.

The Holy Father cited Cardinal Montini, later Paul VI, who said in 1961: "It was like what happens when all the lights in a room are switched off and only one is left on: 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 then stood for what essentially it has always been: a guiding beacon."

In step with the times

Benedict XVI noted how the paper began to circulate throughout the world -- no longer printed only in the Vatican -- taking on various languages, "including, since 2008, also the version in Malayalam published in India, the first to be printed entirely in non-Latin characters."

"A 'singolarissimo' (most unusual) newspaper because of its unique features, L'Osservatore Romano in the past century and a half, has first and foremost maintained its service to the truth and to Catholic communion on the part of the See of the Successor of Peter," he said. "Accordingly the daily published the Pontiff's interventions regularly, followed two Councils celebrated at the Vatican and the many synodal assemblies, an expression of the vitality and wealth of the Church's gifts. Besides, it never forgot to highlight the presence, work and situation of the Catholic communities across the world that sometimes live in dramatic conditions."

Today, the Holy Father said, L'Osservatore Romano stands as a "a 'paper of ideas,' an organ of formation and not only of information."

He outlined some particular priorities: attention to the Christian East, to ecumenism, friendship with Judaism and 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."

"After 150 years of a history of which it may well be proud, L'Osservatore Romano knows how to express the Holy See's cordial friendship for the humanity of our time," the Pontiff affirmed, "in defense of the human person created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Christ."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-32975?l=english