Lord Patten appointed president of new Vatican media team

Chris Patten

After hiring a consulting firm to study the Vatican’s communications structures, the Vatican has now set up an 11-member commission to increase collaboration and cut costs. Britain's Lord Patten has been appointed as its president.

Catholic News Service/The Catholic Herald

Lord Patten, now 70 and former chairman of the BBC Trust and former Chancellor of the University of Oxford, will serve as president of the commission. A Catholic, Chris Patten was co-ordinator of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United Kingdom in 2010.

Australia's Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, announced the formation of the committee at a news conference on Wednesday.

'The objectives are to adapt the Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhance coordination and achieve, progressively and sensitively, substantial financial savings,' he said.

The Cardinal told reporters that there is currently little or no relation between the Vatican’s individual media expenditures and the number of people reached around the world. For example, he said, at a time when fewer and fewer people around the world listen to the radio, the Vatican’s largest media employer is Vatican Radio, which produces programs in 45 languages.

At the same time, he said, the success of Pope Francis’ Twitter account and the PopeApp developed for mobile devices by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications — offering a combination of Vatican Radio and other Vatican media-produced news, photos and video — show a need to strengthen the Vatican’s digital outreach.

Still, Cardinal Pell said, 'the priority is not economic,' but using resources more efficiently to reach the greatest number of people possible. While cutting costs is one goal, 'we do not want to diminish our outreach.'

The Vatican has nearly a dozen separate communication outlets and offices, many of which operate independently of one another. They include the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano; Vatican Radio; the Vatican television production studio, CTV; the Vatican Information Service; the Vatican press office; the Fides missionary news agency; the main Vatican website; the news.va news aggregator; the Vatican publishing house LEV; and the Vatican printing press.

Irish Mgr Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, will serve as secretary of the commission, which has been asked to come up with recommendations in the next 12 months.

FULL COVERAGE

Lord Patten named president of new Vatican media team (The Catholic Herald)

Vatican role for former BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten who is to advise Pope Francis on media (The Tablet)

Hong Kong's ex-governor to head Vatican media reform (Ucanews)