Vatican City, Jan 25, 2021 / 19:56 pm
Increasing rumors from multiple Vatican sources say the Vatican communications department might experience a shakeup shortly, and that Pope Francis might try a new redesign of the dicastery that handles Vatican media.
On Jan. 16, Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery of Communications, held a private audience with Pope Francis. Although nothing transpired publicly from the meeting, the Italian newspaper La Verità and the political web portal Dagospia - a sort of Italian Drudge Report - reported that the pope was “unhappy” with the poor coverage the Vatican Dicastery for Communications gave to Pope Francis' latest slate of interviews.
On Jan. 18, La Verità also published a leaked memo from a Vatican News official surprisingly instructing coworkers not to share on social media the pope's interview with the Italian private television station Canale 5.
The unusual memo was signed by Alessandro de Carolis, a veteran journalist at Vatican Radio. De Carolis is not an editor nor a director in the Vatican media; thus the speculation that the decision to gag the interview could not have come from him, but from higher authorities at the dicastery.
According to La Verità, the Pope was unhappy with his interview on Canale 5 not being more widely promoted by the Vatican social media platforms. The Vatican has 4.3 million followers on Facebook, more than half a million on Instagram and some 800,000 on Twitter.
The interview with Canale 5 was reportedly organized directly by Pope Francis, without the intervention of any official from the Dicastery of Communications. And it was the last of three consecutive “pop” interviews by Pope Francis. The pope granted an interview to the famous Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport on Jan. 2; penned a reflection for the Italian edition of Vanity Fair on Jan. 6; and finally sat down with the Canale 5 journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona on Jan. 10.
The piece in Vanity Fair was coordinated by the Dicastery for Communications. The issue of the magazine containing the pope's text also presented an op-ed by Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the dicastery.
But the other two were not coordinated by the dicastery. Fr. Marco Pozza, an Italian priest and journalist, arranged the interview with La Gazzetta Dello Sport. In a phone call to the Gazzetta office the day after the publication, Pope Francis thanked him for setting it up.