Vatican Round-up

Vatican media to modernise

The Vatican urgently needs to modernise its media operations, according to head of a new papal commission on how Rome can better communicate with the Church and the world.

Speaking at a London Mass to mark World Communications Day, Chris Patten, former chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation Trust, explained that Rome has access to the same technology used by media magnates like Rupert Murdoch.

“We know how people get their information” he said, adding, “We know how people want to respond to the information they are getting, and they feel just because it's the church, it shouldn’t be less professional than any civic organisation.”

An effective modern media operation is impossible “if you are operating in silos”, he said, describing as “blindingly obvious” the fact that Rome needs a single media department to gather and disseminate news.

Currently the Vatican has almost a dozen separate communication outlets and offices, many of which evolved to operate independently, which had led to wasteful duplications in such fields as translation and social/digital engagement. 

Resources should be reallocated, he said, so television and social media – currently receiving just 15% of Rome’s communications budget – and the press office are better resourced, and the work of other media outlets is sustained.


A Franciscan encyclical

The Pope’s upcoming encyclical on the environment is likely to be titled Laudato Sii, “praised be you”, a phrase from St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun, according to Fr Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican Publishing House.

Fr Costa reportedly announced the encyclical’s title, drawn from the 1224 hymn in honour of creation, during the delivery of the Cardinal Michele Giordano prize in Naples. He told SIR — the official news agency of the Italian Bishops’ Conference — that “There are many foreign publishers who are already interested in the publication of the encyclical in their countries.”

A first draft of the encyclical, which Pope Francis said last August was a “third bigger” than his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, was complete by August 1 last year.  Pointing out that the document could only go forward on certainties, the Pope said that he suspected that the encyclical would “become smaller”.

Currently being translated, the encyclical is expected to be published in mid-June, in advance of next month’s International Conference for Development, the UN setting new sustainable development goals in September, and especially November’s climate change conference in Paris.

Neither its title nor its subtitle – expected to be “The Care of the Common Home” – has been officially confirmed.


The measure of civilization

“The degree of progress of a civilization is measured by its ability to protect life, especially in its most fragile stages,” Pope Francis has said in an address to Italy’s Science and Life Association.

The Pontiff began his address, marking the tenth anniversary of the association’s foundation, by thanking the association for promoting the protection of human life in a society marked by “the negative logic of discarding”.

Encouraging the association to keep their gaze fixed on the sacredness of life and the human person, “so that science may truly be at the service of man, and not man at the service of science”, the Holy Father stressed that society’s progress is measured by its ability to protect life.

Warning against forgetting attacks on the sacredness of human life, he said:  “The scourge of abortion is an attack on life. Leaving our brothers on the boats in the Sicilian channel is an attack on life. Death in the workplace is an attack on life because the minimal security conditions are not respected. Death by malnutrition is an attack on life. Terrorism, war, violence and also euthanasia are an attack on life.

“Loving life,” he said, “means always to take care of the other, to wish him well, to cultivate and respect his transcendent dignity.”