VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Twenty months after establishing the Vatican Secretariat for Communications and beginning a long process of coordinating the many Vatican communications and media operations, Pope Francis approved statutes formalizing the reform.
The pope had created the secretariat in January 2015 to coordinate the work that had been done individually by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican press office, the Vatican Internet office, Vatican Radio, the Vatican television production studio and the Vatican newspaper, printing press, photograph service and publishing house.
The statutes governing the secretariat were published Sept. 22 and were to go into effect Oct. 1 on an experimental basis for three years.
The social media accounts of the pope — primarily his Twitter and Instagram accounts — also are the responsibility of the secretariat, the statutes specify.
When Pope Francis created the secretariat he named Msgr. Dario Vigano as its prefect and appointed other top officials. In February, he named department directors for the secretariat and in July, he named the members of the secretariat — a group of 16 cardinals, bishops and laypeople. The members are to meet at least every two years to discuss matters of “general principle” for Vatican communications efforts.
The new secretariat and particularly its role as coordinator of diverse Vatican media, the statutes say, was needed to “unify all the realities of the Holy See that are involved in communications so that the whole system responds in a coherent way to the necessity of the evangelizing mission of the church.”
The office was set up after a long study as part of the process to reform the Roman Curia and Vatican bureaucracy and reduce duplication. The statutes say the coordination also was needed to respond to the growth of digital media and “factors of convergence and interactivity” in social communications.
The one major office yet to be filled in the secretariat is that of director of the editorial department. The statutes say the department will “coordinate the editorial lines” of all the Vatican media and be responsible for “the strategic development of new forms of communication.”