The pope's newspaper

The pope's newspaper

It was the wish of Pope Paul VI. in person: 40 years ago, on the 8th of June, the bishops of the Vatican. October 1971, probably the most famous newspaper in the world appeared for the first time in German: the "Osservatore Romano," the Pope's newspaper.

"May it help to foster a spirit of fraternal solidarity among God's people," wrote Paul VI. in a greeting on the front page of the first ie. The fact that this spirit of "fraternal solidarity" from Rome's point of view was not at its best everywhere in Germany at the time was a motive for the new edition. The pope was not least concerned about anti-Roman sentiments that sometimes appeared in Luther's homeland.

The only thing that remained Italian was the title: "L "Osservatore Romano – Weekly Edition in German" is written in the newspaper header of the weekly edition, not "Romischer Beobachter". However, as in all six editions – the latest being a Polish edition in 1980 – many articles from the Italian mother paper are offered in translation. Visually, the German "Ossi," as it is sometimes colloquially known, stands out: Thanks to subsidies from the German Bishops' Conference, it is the only edition that has been published in full color for five years now. With around 12.000 subscribers, 10.000 in Germany and 1.With more than 1,000,000 copies in Austria and Switzerland and several thousand copies for sale in churches and newsstands, its circulation is one of the highest among foreign-language editions.

Not a normal newspaper
Whether in Italian, German, Spanish or Polish, the paper with the logo of the papal tiara and the crossed keys of Peter is not a normal newspaper, it is the Pope's newspaper. Even a cursory flip through reveals what this means: speeches, homilies and lectures by the pontifex maximus are the focus, unabridged and regardless of whether the pope is talking about world peace and environmental protection or St. Bonaventure and the doctrine of the Trinity. News from the Roman Curia and cultural topics are also included. The articles are sophisticated, the language elevated and the sentences long. The lifeblood of many newspapers, "Sex and Crime," is dispensed with by the paper. The journalistic credo that only bad news is good news is also suspended.

Today, a total of four permanent staff members work in the editorial offices of the German-language "Osservatore Romano" in Via del Pellegrino immediately to the right behind the St. Anna Gate, the main entrance to the Vatican City, works. In addition, freelancers, authors as well as translators. Since 2008, the editorial team has been headed by the Austrian Astrid Haas. Since 1986, the Schwabenverlag, based in Ostfildern, has been responsible for the publishing of the German-language edition.

But what does the typical reader of the German "Osservatore Romano" look like?? Statistical surveys do not exist. Only this much can be said: Whoever imagines an older gentleman in a collared shirt is wrong. It is mainly lay people, especially families, who subscribe to the Osservatore in the German-speaking countries, according to the editorial office.

No greater solemnity
World Church News? Official Newsletter of the Holy See? How can the "Osservatore Romano" be characterized? Commonly described at the Curia itself as a semi-official, semi-official newspaper of the pope. However, according to the current editor-in-chief of the Italian edition, Giovanni Maria Vian, the paper is also said to be quite open to debate within certain limits.

To the 150. Pope Benedict XVI visited the Italian edition on its 50th birthday this summer. personally the editorial office. The 40. Birthday of German edition, however, to pass without major celebrations. Finally, the German edition of the "Osservatore" is already ahead of its time anyway: on the front page, the 41. Year of publication indicated.

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Christina Cherry
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