By Cian Molloy - 29 October, 2017
The most senior Irish person in the Roman Curia, Navan-born Bishop Paul Tighe, has been given additional responsibilities after being appointed Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Previously, Bishop Tighe had served as an adjunct secretary, or assistant secretary to the council. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin congratulated the 59-year-old on his promotion. After graduating from UCD with a law degree and studying at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, Bishop Tighe was ordained a priest of the Dublin Diocese in 1983 and he started his clerical career as a chaplain in Ballyfermot.
After studying Moral Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, he became a lecturer in that subject at the Mater Dei Institute in Dublin in 1990 and became head of Mater Dei’s Theology department in 2000. Four years later, when Archbishop Martin took over from Cardinal Desmond Connell as Archbishop of Dublin, he was appointed head of the Dublin Diocesan Communications Office.
As well as establishing an office for public affairs to liaise between the Archdiocese and government departments, public bodies and nongovernmental organisations, Fr Tighe developed the use of electronic media across the diocese. This came to the Vatican’s attention and in 2007 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him secretary to the Pontifical Council for Social Media. It is said that in this role, Fr Tighe developed the @Pontifex twitter account, which was used by Pope Benedict and is now used by Pope Francis with more than 14.4 million followers worldwide, and is growing at a rate of an additional 40,000 followers a day. In 2007, Fr Paul Tighe was named a prelate of honour by Pope Benedict, earning him the title of monsignor.
In the first year of his Pontificate, Pope Francis, set up a special commission, the Committee for Vatican Media, headed by the last British Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, and he appointed Mgr Tighe as secretary of the committee. When the committee concluded its work, it was Mgr Tighe who presented its conclusions to the Pope and his Council of Cardinal Advisors.
In December 2015, he was made adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and three months later in February 2016, he was consecrated as a bishop, with the the titular see of Drivastrum, which is in northern Albania.
Last year, he appeared with several other Catholic communications specialists at the South-by-Southwest (SXSW) Cultural Festival in Austin, Texas, where he raised a few eyebrows by talking about the Church as a brand.
Arguably, the last Irish person to hold such a high rank in the Vatican was Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin – so who knows what the future holds for Bishop Tighe.