“We must reach a stage whereby reading a book is no longer perceived as it was n the 16th century, when truth was in the book and the reader merely assimilated its content. Readers should be given the opportunity to gradually engage in dialogue with the book as they continue reading…”, said Father Giulio Cesareo, head of the Vatican Publishing House since October 2017, who launched a “provocation” on the future of religious publications in the light of today’s numerous challenges, marked by technological, social and cultural transformations. SIR met him on the occasion of the International Book Fair in Turin, May 9-13, where the publishing house of the Holy See will be present with significant new proposals, such as the new catalogue and the presentation of the International Days for Catholic Literature.
The new catalogue of the Vatican Publishing House (L.E.V.) “As L.E.V. – said Fr Cesareo – we are increasingly integrated within the activity and the mission of the Dicastery for Communication, for the fulfilment of the Vatican media reform process promoted by Pope Francis. Over the past years we always presented a token of the renewal underway: in the 2018 edition, for example, it was the logo, while this year we will present the catalogue.” It’s a different edition of the catalogue compared to the past, Cesareo said, “in line also with the editorial plan of Vaticannews.va, with the four subsections: Pope, Vatican, Church, World.
L.E.V. is increasingly specializing as a theological-religious publishing house:
The “World” section for example, rather than non-specific in-depth reporting, will feature a focus on literature, history, Christian ethics in dialogue with contemporary culture.”
An unpublished text by Pope Wojtyla among the novelties in Turin. Three new books published by L.E.V will be presented in Turin. The first is an unpublished text of Saint John Paul II, “Cristo, la Chiesa e il Mondo. Catechesi dell’Areopago.” This 39-page manuscript dates back to the time when Pope Wojtyla was archbishop of Krakow. A catechesis on St. Paul’s speech at the Areopagus in Athens. The book will be released in-between two important anniversaries: 2018 marked 40 years since the election of the Polish Pontiff to the See of Peter, while in 2020 recurs the centenary of his birth.” The book authored by philosopher Dario Antiseri, “L’Europa di papa Francesco” addresses the Pope’s vision of Europe, said the head of the Vatican Publishing House. “Clearly, this is not a political text in view of the May elections. In fact it’s a reflection on our Continent with an emphasis on its Christian roots. The volume highlights the Pope’s thought when it states that our adherence to values can be seen in our relations with other people. The human person is the supreme value that precedes other values. Defending abstract values without incarnating them into human relations is not Christianity but an ideology.”
Finally, since Turin is the city of the Shroud, L.E.V: will also present the volume “Testimoni del Mistero’ by journalist Grzegorz Górny – and by photographer Januz Rosikon, already released in Poland- which addresses the theme of the relics of Jesus from a scientific and historical perspective starting from the Holy Shroud.
Religious literature 2.0: seeking greater participation. “I am under the impression that in the past years the market of religious literature has been going through a phase that prevents the expression and transmission of the full potentiality of the Gospel message”, said Fr Cesareo answering a question on the situation of sectorial publications. He clarified: “I dream a gaze that is the product of the times in which we live, of the spirit of 2.0. Put simply, I hope to see more participatory communication of faith and in faith, namely, not only unidirectional communication of content to the recipient community, but veritable interaction.”
Father Cesareo shared an example: “As L.E.V we just published a book on the Mother of God, titled, ‘Maria donna normale’ (Mary, a normal woman), reiterating a phrase by Pope Francis, with a thought of the Holy Father for every day of the month of May. At the end of the volume we inserted a white page, where readers can write a prayer to Mary.
When we speak of the digital era, we must not limit ourselves to view transformations from a technological perspective, since the anthropological angle is of prime importance. We must increase participation, for a more interactive community.”
International Days for Catholic Literature in Rome. “International book fairs are precious opportunities for us, as editorial directors. They promote the encounter between professionals and especially with the public at large”, remarked Fr Cesareo, illustrating a new project in the pipeline: “It’s precisely because of the need to collect and share experiences that, in our capacity as Dicastery for Communication, in cooperation with the Italian Bishops’ national Office for Social Communications, we launched the first International Day of Catholic Literature that will take place in Rome June 26-29. It’s an opportunity to experience significant initiatives, and to reconsider new editorial proposals and identify our ability to undergo a transformation that is nourished by the ability to tune in.” Father Cesareo concluded: “We invited renowned scholars in different areas, ‘giants of our times’, such as Jesuit theologian Marko Ivan Rupnik, the President of the Federation of Catholic media in France Jean-Marie Montel from the Bayard Group, the director of Amazon Italia Giorgio Busnelli and the visionary founder of Canvas8 Nick Morris. We want to be able to provide a new, deeper vision of cultural transformations and of our response to these changes as a Church, as pastoral workers. This can be done only together, by listening to the scholars and circulating experiences.”