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We launched Inside the Vatican magazine in April, 1993, with $4,720 in initial capital. Our goal was entirely evangelical — we wanted to spread the Gospel, the “good news” of Jesus Christ in an increasingly secular age. We were moved to act by what we saw and read in the mainstream media: daily distortions and mockery of the Church’s teachings. The faith was depicted as an impediment to happiness and freedom, not as the one great source of true happiness and freedom.
As young writers, trained at places like Harvard and Yale, but still deeply believing, we wished to counteract this mockery and correct these distortions by offering our own new, clear, and (hopefully) compelling voice in the “war of ideas” of our time. Seeking to defend the truth of Christ and of his Church, we went to “the heart” of the Church — to the Vatican itself. We began there.
But, partly due to our experiences at places like Time magazine, where we were told how the story had to read before we began to write it, we felt we had to find a way to be independent enough to carry out our mission. We went to “the top.” Encouraged by Pope John Paul II, by his personal secretary, then-Monsignor (now Cardinal) Stanislaw Dziwisz, and also by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), we finally decided to launch a completely new type of magazine: loyal to the Church and the magisterium, but modern, alive, fresh, and not controlled by any interest group, inside or outside of the Church. So we began, and so we have continued.
This has meant that we have functioned in great freedom, but also without any of the institutional resources which support many other Catholic publications. Today, entering our 18th year of publication, people ranging from former US Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon, now at Harvard Law School, to Father Benedict Groeschel, founder of a vibrant new branch of the Franciscans, have said Inside the Vatican is a “marvelous contribution to the New Evangelization” and “our favorite magazine.” Pope Benedict XVI has told us he appreciates our work very much.
Since 1993, our publication has provided the most comprehensive and balanced coverage in the world on the Vatican. We provide thoughtful insight into the reasons behind the actions of the Pope and the Vatican, in contrast to much reporting in the secular media. We have covered most of the great spiritual, cultural and social issues of our time from a profoundly Catholic perspective. And we have truly flourished. While many small journals have gone out of business, we maintain a solid base of about 10,000 paid subscribers in some 100 countries, including Russia, India and China. This is the main source of our revenue — our subscribers. And we have a renewal rate of more than 75%, which is considered very high in the publishing industry. Our readers are very loyal and supportive.
(Indeed, we are closely read “inside the Vatican” — we received an email just this morning (August 22, 2010) from Cardinal Raffaele Farina, head of the Vatican Library and Archive, thanking us for our publication of his recollection of the time, in 1997, when Cardinal Ratzinger indicated to him that Ratzinger hoped to end his career as the Vatican librarian. Farina writes: “Le sono grato soprattutto per aver precisato con delicatezza la situazione della mia difficile successione al P. Leonard; solo Lei come Suo amico poteva parlare liberamente su questo punto. Grazie!” (“I am grateful to you above all for having described with great tactfulness the matter of my difficult succession to Father Leonard; only you as his friend could speak freely on this point. Thank you!”)
After almost 18 years, we continue to carry out our original mission, “To employ the written and spoken word in order to defend the Christian faith, and to spread the message of a Culture of Life to a fallen world desperately in need of the saving truth of the Gospel of Christ.”