To the Community of Writers of “La Civiltà Cattolica”
14 June 2013
Dear Friends in the Lord,
I am glad to meet you writers, your whole community, the Sisters and the administrative personnel of the house. Since 1850 the Jesuits of La Civiltà Cattolica have been carrying out a task that has a special connection with the Pope and with the Apostolic See. In meeting you at audiences my Predecessors recognized on several occasions that this bond is an essential feature of your journal. I would like today to suggest three words to you which may be of help to you in your work.
The first is “dialogue”. You are carrying out an important service to culture. The approach and style of La Civiltà Cattolica were at first combative and often also harshly polemic, in line with the general atmosphere of the time. On going through the journal over its 163 years one notices the rich variety of positions, due both to the changing circumstances of history and to the personalities of the individual writers. Your faithfulness to the Church still requires of you harsh treatment of hypocrisies that are the product of a closed, sick heart. Harsh, against this illness. However your main duty is not to build walls but bridges; it is to establish a dialogue with all people, even those who do not share the Christian faith but who “respect outstanding human values”, and even, “those who oppose the Church and persecute her in various ways” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 92).
There are so many human issues to be discussed and shared, and in dialogue it is always possible to come close to the truth, which is a gift of God, and to be mutually enriching. Carrying on a dialogue means being convinced that others have something good to say, it means making room for their viewpoint, their opinion, their suggestions, without, obviously, slipping into relativism. And in order to keep up a dialogue it is necessary to lower one’s guard and open doors. Persevere in the dialogue with cultural, social and political institutions, in order to make your contribution to the formation of citizens as well, so that they may have at heart the good of all and work for the common good. Civiltà cattolica [Catholic civilization] is the civilization of love, mercy and faith.