.- Today Pope Benedict XVI visited the offices of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
“Let me tell you with my whole heart, as you would at home: Happy Birthday!” the Pope said to the paper’s staff of 100.
“Through your daily work, hidden and not without effort, you give life to this unique means of communication that is at the service of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, to bring a specific contribution to spreading the Gospel and witness to the truth.”
L’Osservatore Romano – The Roman Observer, in English - was launched on July 1, 1861, to defend the Papal States against the Italian political radical Giuseppe Garibaldi in his bid to subsume the Pope’s territories into a newly unified Italy. The paper’s ownership was independent of the Church up until 1885 when the Vatican acquired it during the reign of Pope Leo XIII.
“The ‘Osservatore Romano’ helps the faithful to consider contemporary issues in the light of the Word of Christ and the Magisterium of the Church, while remaining attentive to the signs of the times,” said the Pope, speaking almost entirely without notes.
“In this perspective, the Holy See's newspaper is a vital resource, which needs to be increasingly understood and appreciated.”
The Pope noted how the newspaper often carried “positive and encouraging news” in comparison to the more gloomy mainstream press.
L’Osservatore Romano is using its 150th anniversary to expand its media operation. For the first time ever it’s providing a daily online news service in English. Until now, its daily edition has only been in Italian. The paper plans to expand the languages available online to include German, Spanish, French, Polish and Portuguese.
“Dear friends, continue to work joyfully in the great of ‘Areopagus’ of modern communications,” urged Pope Benedict, referring to the venue in first-century Athens where St. Paul dialogued with pagan Greeks.
The Holy Father drew his remarks to a close by encouraging the staff to remember that their sanctity is even more important than their technical and professional competence.
“What is vital above all is that you incessantly cultivate a spirit of prayer, service and faithful adherence to the teachings of Christ and His Church.”
In response, the newspaper’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, thanked Pope Benedict for his visit.