The head of the Vatican’s main communications office says a new Vatican internet portal should be launched later this year.
The portal – which was originally planned to be online over a year ago – will be a multimedia website bringing together Vatican Radio and CTV, the Vatican’s television service. Eventually, other organs of Vatican media, such as the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, will be integrated into the system.
Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò was appointed as Prefect of the newly established Secretariat for Communication two years ago, and has been under pressure to complete the merger of the Vatican communications apparatus.
In May, while speaking to members of the new secretariat, Pope Francis said the reform must be done with “intelligence, meekness, but also…also, allow me the word, with a bit of violence,” but stressed that it’s a “good violence to reform things.”
At the beginning of his pontificate, Francis appointed Lord Christopher Patten of England to lead a commission to consider how to reform Vatican communications.
That commission called for a unified office controlling all media, an emphasis on digital content and engagement in social media. The commission was also tasked with studying ways to slash the budget, which altogether was over 70 million dollars.
The reform of media operations has been a constant topic of the discussions of the pope’s C-9 group of cardinal advisors since they began meeting in 2013.
Speaking from Brazil – where he is addressing a communications conference – Viganò told Vatican Radio the reform is “well underway.”
The priest said the new portal will “certainly not be monolithic, nor homogenized, but instead be coherent.”
He said the different language sections will be given the ability to differentiate themselves, since the situation is different for their various audiences.
Viganò said the goal was to move from a media system in which requests about editorial content came from the countries of origin, to a “communications system that answers primarily to the Holy See.”
(Often the language sections of Vatican media, especially at Vatican Radio, have close relationships with their country’s bishops’ conferences, which can also affect their programming decisions.)
He said the new Secretariat’s mission is primarily “communicating the pope, his magisterium, his gestures, [and] the work of the Roman dicasteries to the Church around the world.”
Viganò said the Vatican’s new portal would continue to draw attention to “particularly significant initiatives” of local Churches, if these would be beneficial to other Churches around the world.
(Vatican Radio – the largest and most expensive component of the media operations – has already begun to feel the bite of the reform, with many broadcasts either being cancelled or reduced in length.)
The prefect said Francis has changed the way the Vatican communicates.
“Pope Francis has a capacity to redefine codes and forms of communication. We can say he uses creativity, and abandons conventionality, to tell stories: In particular, parables and metaphors,” Viganò told Vatican Radio.
“Let’s not forget that the narrative model used by Pope Francis always has a very pragmatic aim, and it is never self-referential; rather he wants to provoke and induce an effect on a person’s concrete plan of life,” he said.