Vatican Journalists Present "Paper Church"

Book Gives Perspective of Vaticanistas

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By Sergio Mora 

ROME, FEB. 14, 2011 ( When Rodolfo Lorenzoni and Ferdinando Tarsitani get to work each morning, they find the Church on their desks. That is, they find Church news. 

Lorenzoni and Tarsitani are Italian journalists who cover the Vatican in their professional lives from day to day. They have written a book to present the Church precisely from the perspective of those whose job it is to write and speak about the Church every day. 

“La Chiesa di carta: I Vaticanisti raccontano” (The Paper Church: Vatican Experts Explain Themselves) was presented in Rome last Wednesday. It opened with a presentation by Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office from 1984 to 2006. 

Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni, president of the Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Italian Episcopal Conference, was among those who joined the authors in presenting “The Paper Church.” 

“This book,” Tarsitani said, “is a homage to colleagues and to the journalistic profession. We wished to speak about the Church through the eyes of those who, by profession, speak about it every day: the so-called Vaticanistas. In doing so we realized that it might offer several points of reflection on our work and on the moment the Church is going through.” 

Lorenzoni specified that “the journalist’s profession can be very difficult without a certain preparation, without a certain responsibility, without a certain culture. This book is a tour of the world of Vatican experts, it includes personal anecdotes, life histories and not only that of the profession; it is a book with a human side.” 

Big job 

For his part, Bishop Paglia reflected on the responsibility resting on the shoulders of journalists. “[W]hat is written can influence several sectors,” he said. 

The bishop asserted that not only the public, but even bishops and the Roman Curia are influenced by the press, “and in this sense there is a responsibility.” 

“[W]e are going through a complex moment with incredible potential for the Church but perhaps audacity, prophecy and strength are lacking,” he reflected. 

Aldo Maria Valli, Vatican expert from RAI television, acknowledged that reporting on the Church isn’t easy. He recounted the advice of a photographer-friend: Look through the lens a lot but only take a picture every now and then. 

He said this suggestion is valid for every medium, “given the great and complex reality of the Church.” 

Speaking of television, Valli admitted that the fixed schedules sometimes lead to “somewhat superficial” reporting. 


After the book presentation, ZENIT spoke with Bishop Paglia, who affirmed he reads our dispatch every day. 

He said that the journalistic profession “should make us reflect because it isn’t just any profession, particularly at this time.” 

“In face of the fall of ideologies, of values, of prospects, to be able to speak of the Church and of her complex aspects is certainly an ecclesial service, but also a civil one, because it means injecting in stagnant veins an element that could make the body of society revive. And ZENIT is able to make [people] understand and bring them to know.” 

Regarding the at-times malicious or controversial questions that journalists ask, Bishop Paglia said that “if one digs one sees there is a desire for truth — the Logos, Pope Benedict XVI would say, which is hidden in every word, the Logos — everything was made in the image of the Logos. As St. Augustine said, in every word: Veritas pateat, placeat, moveat et treat” (so that the truth is clear, that it pleases, that it moves).

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