"Stay in the open sea. Be not just intellectuals but also workers": the mandate of Pope Francis to the writers of "La Civiltà Cattolica"
Rome, February 9th, 2017
“La Civiltà Cattolica ” has just published its 4000th issue. The magazine has recently launched editions in four other languages. The Director, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, commented that the publication remains, "Abreast with change, clearly Catholic in orientation but not tribal." During a private audience, Pope Francis gave three words and associated with three Jesuit figures as inspiration for how to proceed: Peter Faber and his restlessness; Matteo Ricci and his incompleteness, his openness of thought, neither closed nor rigid; and Andrea Pozzo, who "imaginatively unlocked open spaces, domes and corridors, there where there were only roofs and walls."
The oldest Italian cultural magazine is celebrating this landmark edition with a commemorative volume; but also looks to the future by broadening its international horizons. The Pope met with the writers and staff of the magazine during a special audience. In his speech, the Pope recalled the "special mission" of the magazine, which “is that of being a Catholic magazine. But being a Catholic magazine does not simply mean that it spreads Catholic ideas, as if Catholicism was a philosophy. As your founder, Fr. Carlo Maria Curci, wrote, La Civiltà Cattolica must not “seem like something from the sacristy.” A magazine is truly “Catholic” only if it has Christ’s gaze on the world, and if it transmits it and witnesses to it.”
“In my encounter with you three years ago,” said Francis, “I presented your mission to you in three words: dialogue, discernment, frontier. I reaffirm them today. In the greeting note that I sent to you on your 4000th publication, I used the image of the bridge. I like to think of La Civiltà Cattolica as a magazine that is at the same time a “bridge” and a “frontier.”
4000 publications, 5 languages
The February 11th 2017 edition will be released with a special surprise on the cover. Created on April 5th 1850, La Civiltà Cattolica, directed by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, is virtually unique in the history of cultural magazines.
Before Francis, each thousandth issue has previously been celebrated by the Popes Leo XIII (1892), Pius XI (1933) and Paul VI (1975). 12 Popes have addressed messages and speeches directly to the magazine's writers over the years. These are being published for the first time in the Rizzoli volume, and will be accompanied by an extensive historical introduction. On February 11th, for the first time in the magazines history, four editions of the magazine will be published in Spanish (presented on 9th February at 18.00h in the Embassy of Spain to the Holy See), English (presented on February 28th at 18.30h in the Ambassador’s residence of the United Kingdom to the Holy See), French and Korean.
The 4000th edition will be presented at the offices of the magazine in 1, Via di Porta Pinciana on Saturday February 18th at 18:00h at a round table event involving Prof. Giuliano Amato, the Hon. Emma Fattorini and Prof. Andrea Riccardi. Other celebratory events will follow in the coming months.
The international dimension of the magazine continues to flourish. "The continuing of the tradition requires growth," suggested Pope Francis in his conversation with Fr. Spadaro, which was published in In your eyes is my word. The magazine – written exclusively by Jesuits - experienced a major graphic design update in 2011, followed by a number of innovations to improve its digital presence. In the meantime, the contributors have grown in number as well as geographical and cultural diversity. Alongside these changes, the magazine is now producing editions in French (Parole et Silence), English (Union of Catholic Asian News), Spanish (Herder) and Korean (by the Korean Province of the Jesuits). This expansion will influence the very identity of the magazine as the perspectives of other countries and cultures become integrated like never before.
Pope Francis, in 2013, revived and enriched the mission of the magazine by providing three keywords: dialogue, discernment and border. For La Civiltà Cattolica, these three words have become a program to be implemented faithfully and carefully. The editorial of the first issue from 1850 states: "A Catholic Civilization would not be catholic, that is universal, if it could not be reconciled with public affairs." The Jesuit writers believe this to still be true today.