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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Andrea Tornielli

Updated: Feb 2

by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism

Dr. Knight: Would you please share with us your early Catholic formation Please tell us the significance of your high school years in formation.

Andrea: I was born into a Catholic family in Chioggia, a beautiful fishing town on the lagoon near Venice. I was brought up in the faith by the example of my parents, more than by their words. I grew up in my parish, led by a priest totally dedicated to his "sheep." At the age of fourteen, listening to the Gospel passage of the ten healed lepers, only one of whom had returned to thank Jesus, I realized how good God had been to me, and from that moment the faith I received in my family became mine. I attended the Liceo Classico, studying Greek and Latin, and graduated from the University of Padua with a degree in History of the Greek Language. These were years of education but also of commitment. In 1978 I had been greatly affected by the death of Paul VI, the election of Pope Luciani and then John Paul II. My passion for journalism that tells the story of the Church was born then.

Dr. Knight: You went to college and studied theology. How did you make that decision?

Andrea: I should point out that I have never studied theology. I went to university pursuing classical studies. I did not do specific studies in theology or Church History. But since those years the history of Christianity and the papacy have always interested me. I cultivated this passion by reading books and interviewing experts on the subject.

Dr. Knight: You were called by God to communicate about the issues of our God. What is the significance of your call to be a follower of Christ with this sense of your gift?

Andrea: For me, communicating and informing is a job, a passion that I have had since I was a boy. Little by little, being a journalist, I discovered the importance of also communicating the contents of faith and the life of the Church with a simple and effective language, which is (or at least should be) that of journalism. Language is most important, as is the communicator's passion and personal involvement in what he or she communicates. The communicator is first and foremost a passionate witness, who wishes to pass on to others what surprised and impassioned him.

Dr. Knight: You spent formation finding out your abilities and gifts through discernment. How was your discernment helpful to you personally?

Andrea: I have a hard time talking about "discernment" in a technical sense, because it was an experience I was unfamiliar with in those words when I was a boy and young man. But belonging to the Communion and Liberation community helped me to "discern," thanks to so many friends, priests and lay people. There were no transitions with difficult choices: I studied what I liked and started doing work that I liked and was passionate about. I had the grace and good fortune to soon meet the woman of my life to whom I got married without waiting to have a stable job. We had three children. My family helped me a lot in my work because they always kept my feet firmly on the ground.

Dr. Knight: Do you think/feel that your life is somewhat a mosaic of your different gifts?

Andrea: I first see that my whole life has been a succession of free and undeserved gifts from God, who knows how to write beautiful and great things using the poorest and most deficient matter. I feel like a forgiven sinner who continues to need God's infinite mercy and could do nothing on his own. Whether these gifts have borne good fruit must be left to the judgment of my readers.

Dr. Knight: What do you want the readers to understand after reading this interview about being a communication expert for the Vatican? What does this job entail?

Andrea: It is a beautiful and difficult job, serving the Pope, the Holy See and the whole Church. From the Editorial Direction that has been entrusted to me depend different media (the daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the radio and website Vatican Radio - Vatican News and the Vatican Publishing) with 270 journalists from 69 different countries who broadcast and write in 51 different languages every day. We try to communicate the Pope's message well and at the same time to receive and share news from the Churches around the world, even to the most remote peripheries. The faith that unites us allows us to be a great network.

Dr. Knight: What are some of the challenges of the future Church in regard to what the dicastery entails?

Andrea: The great challenge that concerns us as the Dicastery for Communication but that concerns us all as baptized people is only one: to communicate the Gospel to the world today, to the wounded, disoriented people. To be messengers of hope and mercy in a world that seems dominated by violence and hatred. We must be able to tell small and big stories of good, to tell the lives of those who bet on the Gospel and act to bring God's love to the world. This is a beautiful task.

Dr. Knight: What are some of the joys you’ve experienced in this often chaotic and complicated line of work?

Andrea : There are so many of them! Being able to reach with our radio waves a missionary kidnapped and imprisoned by fundamentalists in the Niger desert, Father Pierluigi Maccalli, allowing him to listen to the Mass celebrated by the Pope after his captors had granted him a small radio. Listening to the words of the world's bishops who tell us to follow daily the information we publish in the Vatican media. To be able to show how much good there is in the world, even though it is often hidden and no one tells about it.

Dr. Knight: As the head of the Communication area what are some of the duties that you perform/pray that are meaningful and intentional to you?

Andrea: I would like to point out that the head of the Dicastery for Communication is Prefect Paolo Ruffini. I am the editorial director of the Vatican media. I pray to always be faithful to the Pope and to the Church, to never let myself be discouraged in the face of difficulties. I make this famous prayer my own: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace". In particular, with this book, "Life of Jesus," I hope to help readers "enter" into the scenes of the Gospel, being able to identify with them as I did by imagining myself there, present, as a journalist with his notebook recounting what he sees. And what I saw and what continues to amaze me is the exceptional humanity of Jesus, Son of God, and his ability to go against all human traditions and hypocrisy to reach sinner, the marginalized, the irregular.

Dr. Knight: Thank you for doing this interview with Profiles in Catholicism. We tell people the good news about being a Catholic and specifically working.

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