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Vatican plans reforms for media operations

July 09, 2014

The Vatican has announced plans for a thorough review of media operations, designed to streamline the Vatican’s systems of public communications, improve coordination among different media offices, and exploit opportunities offered by new social media.

At a July 9 press conference Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, announced that Lord Christopher Patten, a veteran British politician, would chair an expert committee studying the Vatican’s media efforts. The committee will be asked to submit a plan for reform of the Vatican’s public communications.

The Vatican’s public communications are currently divided among several different offices: the Vatican press office; the newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano; Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Center; the Vatican web site; the Vatican Information Service; the publishing house; and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Lord Patton’s committee will be charged with arranging a coordinated approach.

The Vatican also promised that under the new system that will emerge from the process of reform, “digital channels will be strengthened to ensure the Holy Father's messages reach more of the faithful around the world, especially young people.”

Along with Patten, the committee set up to propose reforms includes Gregory Erlandson, the American publisher of Our Sunday Visitor; Daniela Frank, director of the German Catholic Media Council; Father Eric Salobir, a French Dominican media expert; Leticia Soberon, a Mexican internet host; and George Yeo, a former finance minister in Singapore. The committee will be staffed by representatives of several Vatican media offices.

Lord Patten said that he was looking forward to an “important and challenging” assignment, saying that he would begin work in September. Patten is a Conservative Party leader who was the last British governor of Hong Kong and more recently has been chancellor of Oxford University and head of the BBC Trust. He had scaled back his activities earlier this year after heart surgery, but said that he has recovered and is prepared for part-time work, which will be done on a volunteer basis.


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