By Susan Gately - 14 July, 2016
Coming just two days after the appointment of a new director of the Holy See Press Office, yesterday came the announcement that Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin as one of 16 Members of the newly established Vatican Secretariat for Communications. The body consists of six cardinals, seven bishops and three laypersons. Its aim is to oversee the coordination and streamlining the Holy See’s multiple communications outlets.
When Pope Francis began his reform of the Roman Curia in 2013 with the help of an advisory council of nine cardinals, one of the areas that received immediate attention was the Vatican communications operation.
Pope Francis commissioned a study and recommendations from the global management-consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Later an international commission headed by British Lord Chris Patten provided a specific road-map for a reform plan to be carried out over a 4-year period. The “reorganization,” the Pope wrote, “must proceed decisively toward integration and a unified management” so that “the communication system of the Holy See will respond in an ever more efficacious manner to the needs of the mission of the church,” especially in today’s digital world.
The responsibilities of the Secretariat, headed by Italian Monsignor Dario Vigano’, include coordinating the work of the Vatican website, Vatican Television Centre, Vatican Radio, the Vatican newspaper, the Vatican press office and Printing Press.
The announcement of the Members of the Secretariat falls just two days after the announcement of Mr Greg Burke, as the new director of the Holy See Press Office, replacing Fr Federico Lombardi, who has retired. The veteran US journalist who has worked with Time Magazine and Fox News, will be assisted by a Spanish journalist, Paloma Garcia Ovejero as his deputy.
Archbishop Martin’s role as part of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications is a new one and according to the diocesan press office, the board will likely meet a number of times annually.
Ireland has been well represented at the Communications department at the Vatican through Bishop Paul Tighe who worked for eight years as secretary to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, before being made bishop and Secretary of the Holy See’s Council for Culture.
In his work at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Mgr Tighe oversaw the development of the www.news.va website which brought together all the arms of communications of the Holy See – the Roman Observer newspaper, the Vatican Information office and Vatican Radio.
The new director of the Holy See Press Office is Greg Burke, 56, who spent more than a decade as Fox News’s Rome correspondent. In 2012 he was hired by the Vatican as a communications advisor. In December 2015, Mr Burke became deputy director of the press office. He succeeds the Jesuit priest, Fr Federico Lombardi, who served as spokesman for both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.