Vatican strips media group of 'Catholic' label

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli
Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli

.- A Catholic media organization has lost its Vatican recognition because of its leaders’ “unacceptable lack of transparency and clarity.”

“The International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP), after many years of worthwhile service to the mission of evangelization through the press, has in recent years been living through a worsening crisis of governance,” Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and Archbishop Claudio Celli said in a July 15 announcement.

Cardinal Rylko is president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, while Archbishop Celli heads the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Both Vatican councils have followed the situation of the union.

The councils’ oversight resulted in the invalidation of the union’s general assemblies, which took place in Canada in 2007, in Rome in 2008 and in Burkina Faso in 2010.

On March 23, 2011 the Pontifical Council of the Laity withdrew the canonical recognition of the organization as a private association of the Christian faithful and notified the union’s president of its decision. The letter said the organization must remove the word “Catholic” from its name.

On April 24, the union’s secretary general announced that the UCIP would change its name to International Catholic Organization of the Media. It announced its first assembly will take place in November 2011.

“This act has been strongly disapproved of by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications which do not recognize said organization which continues to claim the title Catholic,” the Vatican’s July 15 announcement said.

The new organization has also “unjustly appropriated” the “intellectual, financial and historical patrimony” of UCIP, including the logo and the website, the churchmen said.

Aspects of the previous organization date back to the 1890s. The union itself was founded and recognized by the Holy See in 1927.

The leadership of the newly formed organization says it focuses on “value-oriented journalism” and provides international networking and educational opportunities for those in the media.

Its membership is open to all media professionals and publications. On its website, it names service to society, the Church and humanity at large as one of its objectives.

The organization also notes its working relationship with the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Vatican statement said that both pontifical councils are grateful to all the members of UCIP who have been “disenfranchised by recent management.” They have given “great service” and the councils encourage them to “spread the Gospel in the world of print media.”

Cardinal Rylko and Archbishop Celli gave assurances that their councils are exploring new forms of association for journalists who wish to remain in communion with the Catholic Church.

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