The 11 people appointed for the committee are entrusted with drafting a reform plan within the next months, with the goal of adapting Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhancing coordination, and achieving substantial financial savings.
President of the committee will be Lord Christopher Patten of Barnes, currently chancellor of Oxford University and co-chair of the UK-India Round Table, who chaired the governing body of the BBC until he resigned because of a heart attack.
Secretary of the Committee has been appointed Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
On Vatican side, the other members are: Mgsr. Carlo Maria Polvani, head of the Office for Information of the Vatican State Secretariat; Giacomo Ghisani of Vatican Radio; Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz of the Vatican Internet Service; and Giovanni Maria Vian, editor in chief of “L’Osservatore Romano”.
The senior experts appointed are Gregory Erlandson, American, president and publisher of the Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division; Daniela Frank, German, executive director of the Catholic Media Council; Fr. Eric Salobir, O.P., General Promoter of the Order of Preachers for Social Communication; Leticia Soberon, a psychologist who also served as official of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication; and George Yeo, a former minister for Foreign Affairs in Singapore.
The board of experts will meet later this year in Rome.
The basis of the discussions will be the conclusions drafted by the Pontifical Commission of Reference for the Economic-Administrative structure, or COSEA.
COSEA’s conclusions were drafted on the basis of a plan sketched by the company McKinsey & Co, which had been entrusted in December, 2013 to counsel the Vatican about an “integrated plan” for its media.
At the moment, none of the members of the committee contacted by CNA accepted to officially comment on their appointment and to give previews of the work they are going to do within the committee.
One of the members of the committee underscored July 10 that “obviously, the Vatican has a multi-faceted communications presence thanks to the work of many dedicated individuals.”
Another of the members of the committee stressed that “the committee is well balanced, it is not any more an only interior matter. There are experts coming from outside the Vatican, from Catholic media. The committee will not only provide or deal with opinions coming from outside the Vatican.”
This needed opening to the “exterior glance” of Catholic media is “an outcome of the digital era, since there are no more geographic nor institutional borders with the digital era.”
It is not the first time a committee for communication is established within the Vatican ranks. Around 30 years ago, while a curial reform was being discussed, an internal committee of experts convoked by the then chief of the office of information of the State Secretariat Msgr. Crescenzio Sepe – who is now cardinal and archbishop of Naples – studied a rationalization of Vatican media.
The Vatican has a daily newspaper, “L’Osservatore Romano”, a radio station and a television which delivers the footage of the Pope all over the world. In addition, it boasts the Holy See Press Office, from which all official information is delivered.
The Secretariat of State is in charge of the Holy See Press Office, and the Vatican radio and television.
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications – an outcome of the Second Vatican Council document “Inter Mirifica” – is involved in questions regarding the means of social communication, and must proceed in close connection with the Secretariat of State.
Under the umbrella of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican has launched the Holy Father twitter account @pontifex, the information website news.va, and the Pope App.
The committee will build on this positive experiences to strengthen digital channels in order to gain more reach for the Pope’s message.
Notably absent from the list of appointees is Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, director of Vatican Television.
The appointment of a committee to propose reforms for the Vatican media raises expectations for a substantial renewal of the Vatican media branch, bringing it ever more toward the digital age.