The Statute for the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications was published today, Thursday 22 September, saying its aim was “to respond to the current media reality, characterized by the presence and development of digital media and their increasing social interaction.” It said this evolving situation called for a reorganization of the Apostolic See’s various media outlets in order to proceed towards a merger of them under a united management. The Statute has been approved on “an experimental basis” for three years and is part of a wider ongoing reform of the Roman Curia and the Holy See’s institutions.
The Statute confirms that the Secretariat for Communications was established by Pope Francis in his Motu Proprio, issued on 27 June 2015, with the aim of uniting all those entities within the Apostolic See which are involved in communications, in order to respond ever better to the needs of the Church’s evangelizing mission. It said new technological advances or media models that may emerge in the future will be adopted and also come under the umbrella of the Secretariat. When carrying out its functions, the Secretariat will coordinate its activities with the other Vatican Dicasteries and especially with the Secretariat of State.
The Statute confirmed that the Prefect, Secretary, Members and Consultants of the Secretariat for Communications have all been appointed by Pope Francis for 5-year terms. It said the Secretariat will be divided into 5 Administrative Departments: the Department for General Affairs, the Editorial Department, the Department for the Holy See’s Press office, the Technology Department and the Theological and Pastoral Department. All of them will come under the control of the Prefect and the Secretary and each Department will have its own Director, to be appointed by Pope Francis, having been proposed by the Prefect and including input from the Secretariat of State. The Prefect can also propose setting up “other entities” or organizations linked to the Holy See and each department can also avail themselves of “independent services.”
Department for General Affairs
Its duties and responsibilities include: the general management of the various departments, human resources, dealing with all legal and copyright matters and coordinating any international initiatives.
Its duties and responsibilities include: giving guidelines and coordinating editorial policies pertaining to the Secretariat for Communications, developing new forms of communication and ensuring the effective integration of traditional media with today’s digital world.
Department for the Holy See’s Press Office
Its duties and responsibilities: include publishing and releasing official communications concerning both the activities of the Roman Pontiff and the Holy See, following the guidelines of the Secretariat of State, hosting and moderating press conferences and briefings, giving official replies to queries from journalists about the activity of the Pope and the Vatican in general, after having consulted the Secretariat of State.
Its duties and responsibilities include: managing the technological side of communications activity and keeping pace with and adopting new advances in this field, defining and applying methods that conform to Vatican and international norms and to best practices in the sector.
Theological and Pastoral Department
Its duties and responsibilities include: drawing up a theological vision of communications, promoting the pastoral activity of the Pope through words and images and providing a theological context to support them, promoting a pastoral-theological formation by setting up a network with local churches and Catholic associations active in the field of communications and making Christians more aware of the importance of communications methods for announcing the Christian message and promoting the common good.
Staff and Offices
All staff and consultants are to be chosen from people of proven reputation, free from any conflict of interest and possessing an adequate level of professional experience. Any conflict of interest that may arise during their mandate must be made known and appropriate measures taken to resolve it.
Documents and Data
All the documents, data and information held by the Secretariat for Communications will be used exclusively for the reasons stipulated by law and they will be protected in order to guarantee their safety, integrity and confidentiality, covered by office secrecy.
The Secretariat for Communications will have an archivist responsible for keeping the Secretariat’s archives and storing them “in a secure place within the Vatican City State or in an extraterritorial Vatican area.” The Prefect will be in charge of drawing up procedures for the best storage and preservation of documents including audiovisual and audio files, in both analogue and digital forms.
The working language used by the Secretariat for Communications will be Italian.
The Statute is of a transitional nature where, as already spelled out in the Moto Proprio, the organziations merging and becoming part of the Secretariat for Communications are: the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Internet Service, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television Centre, L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Printing Press, Vatican Photographic Service and the Vatican Publishing House. The Secretariat for Communications also will take over responsibility for the institutional website of the Holy See and take on the management of the social media outlets reporting on the activities of the Pope.
“All these organizations will continue their activities, observing the current norms, yet following the guidelines given by the Prefect until the date when they will be incorporated into the Secretariat for Communications, at which time they will be disbanded.” During the integration process, the various organizations involved will follow the regulations, guidelines or other instructions as issued by the Secretariat “within the framework of the general norms of the Holy See and respecting the acquired rights of the staff.”
For more see www.news.va.