RMG – Farewell to Carlo Di Cicco, journalist, Deputy Director of L'Osservatore Romano and ANS collaborator

16 April 2024

(ANS – Rome) – Journalist Carlo Di Cicco died yesterday in Rome, at the age of 79. A professional who can rightly be counted among the communicators "of and for peace", and of social matters, he has always been close to Salesian spirituality – having been a professed Salesians for a period – he worked first at the ASCA agency (Agenzia di Stampa Cattolica Associata) and then at L’Osservatore Romano, where he became Deputy Director, a role Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone wanted him in. He was also for many years a close collaborator of the iNfo Salesian Agency (ANS) and also of the Salesian Bulletin.

He was reserved, but very well prepared and with deep ethical and social convictions "without ifs and buts". In short, "a journalist of other times", one could say today. This is how colleagues and those who have known him in these almost 50 years of journalism remember him.

Born in the countryside, in Valleluce, in the province of Frosinone, on 9 July 1944, he was a practical individual who took care of the essence of things: he came from the countryside and had also looked after the sheep as a child. He moved when very young to the "borghetti" on the outskirts of the city of Rome. Perhaps here, among what Pope Francis has called the "rejects" ignored by a society that does not love "the peripheries", he developed his social sensitivity even more.

His was a life spent as a social and Vatican chronicler at the ASCA agency, which he helped launch and for which he also carried out important trade union work on the Editorial Board. And together there was a commitment to a kind of journalism that, along with many other sectors of Italian society, still had the dream and ambition to change society. It is in this dimension that his professional commitment that led Carlo to become editor-in-chief of ASCA must always be framed, with stubbornness and little room for compromise.

His last battle in the agency for which he spent much of his life was to create a "Social" editorial office in which he believed with total commitment, so much so that he introduced, for the first time in Italy, the figure of the social editor. That it should ensure a daily and continuous flow of news on facts and policies concerning the marginal realities of society, volunteering and the third sector, topics such as drugs, prison, health and then migrants and disabilities. In short, all those matters that, especially in those years, were considered "non-news" with population groups that did not serve either the consensus or the economy.

This direction also includes Di Cicco's commitment to peace: firmly pacifist, he also spent a short period in prison having refused to do military service at the time when this was a crime. A friend and militant member of the "Pax Christi" Movement,  for 10 years he was director of the National Bulletin, and was a friend of committed bishops such as Bishop Tonino Bello and Bishop Luigi Bettazzi.

His professionalism had a sort of confirmation with the call, in the last phase of his life, as Deputy Director of L'Osservatore Romano, which he helped guide in the years of the pontificate of Pope Ratzinger. It was the German pontiff who called him because he was positively impressed by one of his most debated books: "Ratzinger. Benedict XVI and the consequences of love" in May 2006, (Edizioni Memori) in which – against the current – he described a pontiff with traits and approaches completely different from those presented by the press in those years. An "other" and wholly unprecedented interpretation that struck the Vatican leadership for the acuity of its analysis that went beyond the view that was immediately branded "the German Shepherd."

Di Cicco  brought  to L'Osservatore Romano above all a strong sense of work, the precious dignity of the journalistic profession and the drive to have an eye always oriented to the poorest and most needy, to migrants in the first place. At the same time, he did not fail to draw the attention of the Holy See's newspaper to communities of men and women religious.

He collaborated with numerous daily and periodical newspapers and magazines. He started and edited 'Vidimus Dominum', the first international online newspaper on consecrated life.

For the iNfo Salesiana Agency, he was a close and valuable collaborator precisely in the years when the Congregation decided to relaunch it. "He was a free gift from Heaven," recalled Salesian Fr Carlos Garulo, former Director of ANS in the 1990s. I was called to reorganise the communication of the Congregation and having little knowledge of Italian I contacted an editor of the Jesuit 'Jesus' magazine for help. He couldn't, but he pointed to Di Cicco, and it was a blessing."

After a phone call and a first meeting, Di Cicco became passionate about the ANS project. "He came once a week, to set up together the type of communication we wanted to achieve" Fr Garulo continues. "We had a vital relationship... And it was really important: there were many things I would never have done, since I had  more of a business training, but he brought his journalism training."

“I thank the Lord for meeting him" Fr Garulo concludes.

Carlo Di Cicco's funeral will be held on Wednesday 17 April, at 11 am (UTC+2), in the Saint John Bosco Basilica in Rome. Card. Bertone will also be there.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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