According to the Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican daily was founded in 1861, in order to respond to the wave of anti-clericalism that had swept through the various kingdoms that would make up present-day Italy.
In addition to confronting the attacks of 19th century liberalism, the newspaper also defended the papacy and Catholics against powerful regimes such as Fascism, led by Benito Mussolini, who sought to bring Catholic Action into the ranks of the Fascist youth organizations.
Cardinal Tauran noted that “when Fascist authoritarianism became totalitarian, L’Osservatore Romano was the only newspaper that continued operating freely,” and therefore it achieved record sales in Rome, because it was the only voice that spoke free of Fascism. The Vatican daily was responsible for condemning all of the totalitarian ideologies of the time, including Fascism, Nazism, and Communism, the cardinal added. The condemnations were made known through documents drafted by Pope Pius IX, whose Secretary of State was Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.
The Vatican daily also played a key role in post-war Europe. According to Tauran, the Italian elections of 1948 proved to be the decisive factor in aligning Italy with the democratically ruled Western countries rather than with the block of totalitarian regimes led by the Soviet Union. The influence of Pope Pius XII and the Catholic bishops tipped the vote in favor of the Christian Democratic Party, thus preventing a win by the Soviet-backed Popular Front Party.
The expo on the Vatican daily will be opened by Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarciso Bertone, and will feature the paper’s first front page from July 1, 1861, as well as the special edition of October 16, 1978, announcing the election of John Paul II, and the edition of April 2, 2004, on the occasion of his death.
The expo will remain on display until November 10.
.- The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano is celebrating its 145th anniversary with an expo in Rome that will feature rare and historical editions of the paper.