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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pope celebrates 4000 issues of a Jesuit periodical

At 10:30am this morning, in the Consistory Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the staff of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica as they celebrate the publication of their 4000th issue.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the meeting with staff of the Jesuit review
La Civiltà Cattolica

Dear writers of the Civiltà Cattolica,
Dear lay writers,

I am pleased to meet with you as well as with other Jesuits who are part of your community, the Sisters and all those who work with you as part of the life of your magazine and the members of the administration in the house where you are located.  I also greet the editors who are now publishing your review in Spanish, English, French and Korean.  I also hear the voices of others, family members of many of your readers.  You have gathered here to celebrate the occasion of the publication of your 4000th issue.  This is a unique milestone; your magazine has completed a journey that has covered 167 years and continues even today to navigate through open seas.

Look: stay in the open seas!  No Catholic should ever be afraid of the open sea, none of us should seek shelter in safe ports.  Above all you, as Jesuits, do not cling to certainties and security.  The Lord is calling us to go out on mission, to set off and not to seek retirement so that we can ponder what is sure.  Setting out, we will encounter storms and there may be headwinds.  Yet this holy voyage is accomplished in constant company with Jesus who says to his beloved disciples: Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid (Mt 14:27).

You do not navigate on your own.  My predecessors, from Blessed Pius IX to Benedict XVI, have received you in audience and have acknowledged many times how your navigation is taking place in the barque of Peter.  This connection to the Pope has always been an essential aspect of your magazine.  You are in Peter's barque.  At various times - in the past as well as in the present - it has been tossed about on the waves, and this is no wonder.  There are even some sailors who have been called to row in Peter's barque who find themselves rowing in the opposite direction.  It has always happened.  You who are at work in the publication of Civiltà Cattolica must be brave and expert rowers (Pius VII, Bull Sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum): keep rowing!  Keep rowing, be strong, even if there should be opposing winds!  Let us continue to row in service to the Church.  Let us row together! (Homily for Vespers with the Te Deum, 27 September 2014).  This is the bond that exists between you and me.  And I express my ardent desire that this bond should not only be maintained, but also strengthened (John Paul II, Speech to the writers of La Civiltà Cattolica, 19 January 1990).  Let us always continue in our navigation, encouraged by the breath of the Holy Spirit who guides us.

4000 issues is not just a collection of paper!  There is life within these pages, made up of much reflection, much passion, ongoing struggles and confrontations that have been encountered.  But above all, there has been much work.  I know that your ancestors preferred to be called simply workers.  Not intellectuals, but workers.  I like that definition very much: it is humble, modest and very efficient.  Saint Ignatius wanted us to be workers in the mystical vineyard.  I work in a way, you work in another way.  But we are together, beside one another.  In my work, I see I follow, I accompany with affection.  Your magazine appears from time to time on my desk.  And I know that you, in your work, are never far from my thoughts.  You have faithfully accompanied all the steps of my Pontificate beginning with the long interview that I granted to your director in August 2013; the publication of Apostolic Encyclicals and Exhortations: providing faithful interpretations for each of them; the Synods, the Apostolic Voyages, the Jubilee of Mercy.  I thank you for this and I ask you to continue along this path of working with me and praying for me.

How many things have happened over the 167 years of this magazine's life, things that have been recounted in your 4000 issues!  In every thousand issues, you have met the Pope: Leo XIII, Pius XI, Paul VI celebrated earlier.  Now here you are with me.  And with you, there is the Father General of the Company of Jesus since Blessed Pius IX desired that the College be dependent completely and in every way on him (Benedict XIV, Apostolic brief Gravissimum supremi, 8 September 1745).  I confirm the entrusting of Civiltà Cattolica to the Father General especially because of the specific task that your magazine fulfills in direct service to the Apostolic See.

And more in general, I confirm the original Statutes of your magazine, which Pius IX wrote in 1866 when he established La Civiltà Cattolica in perpetuity.  Reading through them today, we see a language that is no longer our own.  But the profound and specific sense of your magazine is well described and should must remain unchanged, a magazine that is an expression of a community of writers who are all Jesuits sharing not only an intellectual experience, but also a charismatic inspiration and, at least in the fundamental nucleus of the editorial, the daily life of the community.  The variety of topics that you address should be selected and developed in consultation between you; it requires a frequent exchange (cf Leo XIII, Letter, Sapienti consilio).  It is up to you to discuss not only the various ideas, but also the ways in which they are expressed and the the most appropriate means of doing so.  The heart of Civiltà Cattolica is the College of Writers.  Everything must revolve around it and its mission.

This mission - for the first time in 167 years - beginning today, extends beyond the borders of the Italian language.  I am pleased to be able to bless the editions of La Civiltà Cattolica in Spanish, English, French and Korean.  This represents an evolution which your predecessors had in mind even during the time of the Council, but a plan that was never put into place.  For some time now, the Secretary of State has been sending these magazines to the Nunciatures throughout the world.  Now that the world is increasingly connected, overcoming language barriers will help to better spread the message on a larger scale.  This new stage will also contribute to widening your horizons and will allow you to receive written contributions from other Jesuits in various parts of the world.  The living culture tends to open, to integrate, to multiply, to share, to dialogue, to give and to receive between one people and another with whom it enters into relationship.  La Civiltà Cattolica will become more and more a magazine that is open to the world.  This is a new way of living your specific mission.

And what is this specific mission?  It is the mission of being a Catholic magazine.  But being a Catholic magazine does not simply mean defending Catholic ideas, as though Catholicism were a philosophy.  As Father Carlo Maria Curci, your founder, wrote: La Civiltà Cattolica should not look like something from the sacristy.  A magazine is truly Catholic only if it has the look of Christ upon the world, and if it transmits and bears witness to this look.

During my encounter with you three years ago, I presented your mission in three words: dialogue, discernment, frontier.  I repeated these words today.  In the greeting card I sent to celebrate the 4000th issue, I used the image of a bridge.  I like to think of La Civiltà Cattolica as a magazine that is both a bridge and a frontier.

Today, I want to add a few reflections to deepen that which your founders - and this was repeated by Paul VI - called the constitutional framework of the magazine.  And I also want to give you three patrons, three Jesuit figures to whom you can look as you go forward from here.

The first word is RESTLESSNESS.  I have a question to ask: has your heart conserved the sense of restlessness that leads to research?  Only this restlessness can give peace to the heart of a Jesuit.  Without restlessness, we become sterile.  If you want to experience bridges and frontiers, you must have a mentality and a heart that is restless.  Sometimes, the security of our doctrine can be confounded by suspicious research.  This must never be the case with you.  Christian values and traditions are not rare artifacts to be closed in and kept in treasure chests in a museum.  Instead, the certainty of faith should be the engine that drives your research.

I entrust to you as your patron, Saint Peter Faber (1506-15460), a man of great desire, a restless spirit, one who was never satisfied, a pioneer of ecumenism.  For Peter Faber, it was especially when difficult things were proposed that he demonstrated his true spirit, a spirit that drove him to action (cf Memorial, 301).  An authentic faith always implies a profound desire to change the world.  This is the question that we must ask ourselves: do we have grand visions and desires?  Are we bold?  Or are we mediocre, content to reflect in a laboratory environment?

Your magazine needs to become conscious of the world's wounds, and individual therapies.  Yours must be a writing that understands evil, but also knows how to pour oil on the open wounds, in order to heal them.  Peter Faber walked on his feet and died young of fatigue, devoured by his desire for the greater glory of God.  You must continue walking with your restless intelligence that appears at the keyboards of your computers and prove to be useful for the construction of a better world, the Kingdom of God.

The second word is INCOMPLETENESS.  God is the Deus semper maior, the God who always surprises us.  For this reason, you should be writers and journalists with incomplete thoughts, open and not closed or rigid.  Your faith opens your thoughts.  Strive to always be guided by the prophetic spirit of the gospel in order to have a vision that is original, alive, dynamic, something other than the obvious.  And this is true especially today in a world that is so complex and filled with challenges which seems to be the triumph of a drowning culture - nurtured by profane messianism, relativist mediocrity, suspicion and rigidity - a culture in a box - where everything that does not function correctly or that is considered no longer useful is thrown away.

This crisis is global, and so we need to turn our gaze to the dominant cultural beliefs and the criteria by which people decide whether something is good or not, desirable or not.  Only a truly open mind can face the crises and the understanding of where the world is headed, how we should deal with the most complex and urgent crises, geopolitics, the challenges of the economy and the serious humanitarian crises associated with the drama of migration, which is the real global political challenge of our time.

Therefore I give you as a reference figure the servant of God, Father Matteo Ricci (1522-1610).  He composed a large Chinese globe composed of all the continents and islands that were known at the time.  In that way, the beloved Chinese people were able to see depicted in a new form, many distant lands that were thus named and briefly described.  Among these places were all of Europe and the place where the Pope lived.  The world map also served to introduce the Chinese people in a better way to other civilizations.  Through your articles, you too are called to compose a world map: demonstrating recent discoveries, giving them names and locations, making others aware of their significance for Catholic civilization, but also making Catholics aware that God is at work also outside the confines of the Church, in every true civilization, with the breath of the Spirit.

The third word is IMAGINATION.  In the Church and in the world, this is the time of discernment.  Discernment always takes place in the presence of the Lord, seeing the signs, listening to the things that take place, the feelings of people who know the humble path of daily hard-heartedness and especially the poor.  The wisdom of discernment transcends the necessary ambiguities of life.  But we must penetrate ambiguity, we must enter into it, like the Lord Jesus did as he took on our flesh.  Rigid thought is not divine because Jesus assumed our flesh which is not rigid except at the moment of our death.

I love poetry and, whenever it is possible, I like to continue reading it.  Poetry is filled with metaphors.  Understanding metaphors helps to keep our thoughts supple, intuitive, flexible, acute.  Anyone who has an imagination will never become rigid; someone who has a sense of humour will always be able to enjoy the sweetness of mercy and interior freedom.  Such a person will always be able to open wide his or her vision even in restricted spaces, just as Brother Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709) did in his artistic work, using his imagination to open spaces, domes and corridors, in places where there were only rooftops and walls.  I also give you this person as a figure of reference.

In this way, you can cultivate a space in your magazine for art, for literature, for cinema, for theatre, for music.  This is something that you have done from the very beginning, since 1850.  A few days ago, I was meditating on a picture composed by Hans Memling, the Flemish painter.  And I was thinking about the miracle of gentleness that is depicted in his picture, representing people so well.  Then I thought about the verses of Baudelaire su Rubens, who wrote: la vie afflue et s'agite sans cesse, / Comme l'air dans le ciel et la mer dans la mer - life flows unceasingly, / like air in the sky and water in the sea.  Yes, life is fluid and constantly moving like the movements of air in the skies and water in the seas.  The thought of the Church must rediscover this genius and increasingly understand how mankind should understand himself today in order to develop and deepen his own teachings.  And this genius helps us to understand that life is not a black and white picture.  It is a colour picture.  Sometimes it is clear and at other times it is obscured, sometimes it is subtle and at other times it is vivid.  But these nuances prevail ... and this is the place for discernment, the place in which the Spirit is active, stirring the skies like air and the seas like water.  Your task - as Blessed Paul VI asked - is to live the confrontation between the burning desires of man and the perennial message of the gospel (Speech on the occasion of the XXXII General Congregation of the Company of Jesus, 3 December 1974).  Those burning needs are already flowing within you, and in your spiritual life.  Give these comparisons the most appropriate form, even new ones, as required today for the ways that we communicate, changing with the passage of time.

I hope that La Civiltà Cattolica, which is now available in other languages, may reach many more readers.  The Company of Jesus supports this work that is both ancient and precious; indeed, it is unique to the service of the Apostolic See.  Be generous in providing it with Jesuits who are capable of spreading it to places where it will be most appreciated.  I think above all of centres of formation and education as well as schools, especially for the formation of teachers and parents.  But also in centres of spiritual formation.  I especially recommend that it be sent to seminaries and centres of formation.  I urge bishops to support this endeavour.  Its connection with the Apostolic See makes it, in fact, a unique magazine of its kind.

I conclude our encounter by thanking you for the witness that you provide.  I entrust all of you here present to the intercession of the Madonna of the Way and that of Saint Joseph, and I impart to all of you my Apostolic blessing.  Thank you.
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