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The duty to communicate effectively

· Lord Christopher Patten on Vatican media ·

The commission responsible for revising Vatican media structures means to ensure that “the wonderful message that the Church has to offer gets through to the young, to the poor and to other groups in the most effective way”. This was affirmed by Lord Christopher Patten, President of the eleven-member consultant team, which met from 22 to 24 September, to Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano at the close of its first session.

“What is striking to us all”, Lord Patten began, is the fact that the Pope is “such an extraordinary communicator himself. This makes us realize how much the rest of us have to do to ‘up our game’”. In addition to that, “there is the issue relevant to every media organization: constantly having to run to keep up with changing technology”.

“This, however,” he stressed, “doesn’t mean that old technologies are somehow irrelevant.” For example, short-wave radio is still very important “in communicating to some of the poorest groups around the world, particularly in Africa and Asia.” No one in the commission, he said, thinks “you should forget what you’ve been doing in the past but you have to make sure that different institutions work together and that they take account, in order to be more effective, of newer technologies.”

Regarding cost reduction, Lord Patten clarified that what the commission is concentrating on is making things more effective, not just cutting costs. It is of course, right that churches “ensure that they use the money raised by the faithful in as practical a way as possible,” he said. “We are driven by a moral concern to communicate much better. If in communicating better, you use your resources better, then that is terrific”.

At the end of this the first meeting, Lord Patten underlined the commission’s determination to conclude revision as soon as reasonably possible. The present objective is to report by Easter. “At our next meeting,” he continued, “we plan to talk to Vatican Radio, to L’Osservatore Romano, to Vatican Television Center and to others who are part of the media operation.”

This part of the process will continue through November and December. The President added that the commission would also “like to hear from those outside”. Bishops’ conferences, journalists covering the Vatican and others will, thus, be consulted.

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St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 21, 2018

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