A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH

L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO AND CHARLIE BROWN'S LESSONS

Papal Newspaper Pays Posthumous Tribute to Charles M. Schulz

VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2000 (ZENIT).

Charles M. Schulz's comic strips were "a lesson in style" for movie and television writers, according to the semi-official Vatican newspaper. Yesterday, L'Osservatore Romano paid moving homage to "Peanuts" author Charles M. Schulz, who died on Sunday.

"The Pencil that Made a Good Part of Humanity Smile Daily has Broken," was the headline of an article published in the papal newspaper. Accompanying the article were illustrations of Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Snoopy. This was the first time cartoons have appeared in the Vatican newspaper.

"It has been said that Schulz revolutionized the world of comics. He was an innovator who had two merits: he made the comic popular, allowing everyone—from the common people to professors, to realize the communicative possibilities of this language and he ennobled it, elevating it to the level of art and of expression of thought," Domenico Volpi states in his article.

L'Osservatore Romano points out that Charlie Brown's creator achieved success "without taking recourse to vulgarity"; in this way, he has given "a lesson of moral cleanliness to young cartoonists and short story writers: psychology and romanticism can create situations that make one smile."

This is "a lesson in style that should make movie and television authors reflect, who look too avidly for an easy laugh, perhaps because they do not know anything else."

In the article published Tuesday in the Italian Catholic newspaper "Avvenire," reference was made to the Biblical allusions that appear in the farewell letter that Schulz wrote to his readers. It also refers to the fact that this genius of comedy of our century was a fervent Christian of the Church of God, a Lutheran-Evangelical congregation in which he had been a Sunday school teacher.

Schulz himself gave his approval to the trilogy dedicated to the theology of "Peanuts" written by U.S. expert Robert L. Short. Those books present Charlie Brown's and his friends' ups and downs as a clear example of harmony between art and faith.

Schulz addressed, in a very special way, one the most incomprehensible mysteries for the person with no faith: the suffering and illness of children. This problem has been treated by great names in Christian literature, such as Dostoievsky in "The Idiot," when he asks: "Why do children die?" In the redeemed world described by Schulz, to which he dedicated an essay, hope conquers all, and little Janice, the girl with leukemia that introverted Linus falls in love with, is cured. In the last strip, the cap that covered the baldness caused by chemotherapy falls to the ground, and her magnificent blond hair grows again.

"This 'discarded cap' reminds us of the shroud that the women found in the sepulcher on Easter morning. A symbol of resurrection, presented discreetly and subtly, as Schulz was accustomed to do," the "Avvenire" article concludes. ZE00021604

This article has been selected from the ZENIT Daily Dispatch
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