The Statute for the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications was published on Thursday, 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.
Statute confirms that the Secretariat for Communications was established
by Pope Francis in his Motu Proprio, issued on 27th 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
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
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
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.”