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New edition of Jesuit journal builds bridges with modern world

(Vatican Radio) On Friday April 5th, an all ‘new look’ edition of the prestigious Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica is being presented at the Vatican Press Office, alongside the first digital version available for download by subscribers.
Founded back in 1850 by a group of Jesuits in Naples, it’s Italy’s longest running magazine, dealing not just with the life of the Church, but also with cutting edge political, economic, cultural, scientific and social issues from a broadly Christian perspective.
The new edition of the magazine is also aiming to reach a younger and more international audience, as Philippa Hitchen found out when she visited La Civiltà Cattolica’s headquarters and spoke to the editor, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro….

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"Founded in 1850, it is Italy’s oldest journal…it was founded by a group of Jesuits in Naples. At that time, Italy was a group of different nations but the review was spread out across Italy so it was an international publication, and it helped Italy to grow up as a nation because they used Italian as a language and not Latin like the other ecclesiastical reviews of the time…
Of course La Civiltà Cattolica was born against the unity of Italy, in defence of the Pope, and we are still in defence of the Pope, but we have completely changed our way of thinking – we support the unity of Italy and now, especially after the Second Vatican Council we try to follow the innovations of the Church, trying to go with the Church where Vatican II tried to lead…

The magazine was born from the idea of defending “Catholic civilisation” against the threats of modern, liberalising trends – are you still doing that?
In a sense there is a style which is very militant… we like to talk about interesting topics, but we try to build bridges between the Church and the world. As Jesuits we are called by the popes to be where the trenches and boundaries are, these are the favourite places of the Jesuits.

How will the election of the first ever Jesuit Pope affect your work?
It was completely unexpected, when I heard the name Georgium Marium… I had a stroke! I was in St Peters Square and so I asked myself what it means – yes, we are proud to have a Jesuit pope but our relationship with the pope and the Church will be the same. But of course his formation was shaped by the Jesuit spirituality, so we’re going to be more attentive, more Jesuit in a sense.

The Vatican Secretary of State still revises, some would say censors, your publication though?
We are in tune with the Secretary of State, which means that what we write is certified, so not official at all, but authoritative….
But you must have differences of opinion sometimes?
At first I have to say that each person here in the house has a different opinion from the other, so we as Jesuits don’t have one vision, but we try to talk together to shape a way of thinking, but we have different visions. So this unity comes at first from inside and is the hardest step of our work, but very exciting also. I never had problems with the Secretary of State, we talk and that’s great….
And maybe you influence the thinking of others in the Vatican?
We try to help them, to be at the service of the Church, I hope we can help in a simple modest way to think about emerging questions…..
We are seven in the collegio degli scrittori, the board of writers. Then there are other Jesuits who are over 75 who work for us too – one is 92, he writes so simply but so profoundly. Also we try to ask other Jesuits from all over the world to write for us, so in a sense our board of writers is the entire Society of Jesus. Our vision can’t be just Italian or European so we are building bridges with other countries, other reviews and especially Jesuits who work in universities around the world.

Now you are launching this ‘new look’ edition, as well as an online version….
We are trying not to chose just one platform, we want to keep going, to publish the printed review but at the same time we want to reach other people, so we decided to go online, on ipad, iphone, android, windows 8, kindle fire, so every platform, every tablet can have an application to download our contents…. And for us it’s also important to be on Facebook and Twitter, because communication is changing: if before it was just broadcasting, now it’s about sharing- you know things if you share things with others.
We like to reach a younger audience and not just Catholic audiences but a broader audience. Our language is very simple, but at the same time the writers are specialists in their many fields so one of our main goals, yes is to broaden our readership
We try not to talk just about theology or the life of the Church, there is a specific place in the review for that, but we usually talk about politics, economics, art, literature, music, science, even sports sometimes. We’re trying to understand the contemporary world enlightened by the light of faith, so in a sense our mission is to read the world from a Christian point of view"