The Vatican and new media

The Atlantic looks at the Vatican’s attempt to get control of its media incompetence, examining how it handled the 2010 speech that angered some in the Muslim world, continued revelations of clergy sexual abuse, and, most recently, the so-called Vati-leaks scandal. From the article:

In this environment, not having a media strategy is no longer a viable option -- a reality the Vatican implicitly recognized this summer when it appointed a journalist, Greg Burke, the Fox News correspondent in Rome (and a member of the Catholic religious order Opus Dei), as the Vatican's director of communications, a position that never existed before. It is one of a series of decisive moves the Vatican has made in response to "Vati-leaks": The new director of the Vatican Bank took the unusual step of inviting journalists to the highly secretive institution's offices and discussed the intentions to comply with modern banking norms. Father Lombardi began his regular press briefings -- another novelty. During the past year, Benedict opened a Twitter account. Moreover, since the Vati-leaks scandal broke, the pope has been calling in a range of Church leaders for much wider and more regular consultation. The scandal has clearly served as a wake-up call: a sign that the pope is trying hard to regain control of a Church that has begun to seem badly adrift. The pope has even made some effort to seek out the views of people outside the Roman curia -- the Vatican equivalent of going beyond the Beltway.

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Bruce Byrolly
5 years ago
A superb article, that raises all the right questions, and sounds informed and knowledgable.

Thank you.
David Smith
5 years ago


Thanks for the link. Interesting article, I suppose, but also kind of ho-hum. All this matters much more to the scandal-loving media and their gullible readers than to anyone who's lived and read much. 


Politics is politics - nasty but necessary stuff, best indulged in by third raters with a taste for backstabbing. It's a miracle the Church has lasted so long, but much of that success has got to be attributed to skillful politicians.
David Smith
5 years ago
Well, the one ''new'' thing is the by now old idea that the Vatican needs to adapt successfully to the new media - the media of constant and never-ending chatter, in which there is absolutely no reticence, no respect for anyone or anything, in which it's all gossip all the time, in which dirt is gold.

The buzzword of the month, of the year, is ''transparency''. Doctors and hospitals need to be transparent to their patients, governments need to be transparent - no secrets, cameras in the courts and, I suppose, in the cabinet meetings. Privacy is both impossible and bad, we're told. As with all buzzwords, all media memes, this is being overdone, oversimplified, and terrifically naive. Groups and organizations will always need privacy, confidentiality, the ability to exchange information frankly at a lower-than-public level, in a shorthand that eavesdroppers would almost certainly misunderstand.

The Church certainly needs new-media expertise, in order not to be continually getting tripped up, but it also simply needs better ways to keep quiet. That will come.

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