PUBLIC SECT0R: Catholic PR chief takes 'aggressive' stance

The Catholic Church's first communications director has announced

an 'aggressive' PR campaign to tackle poverty, racism and drugs.

Weber Shandwick Worldwide senior consultant Mark Morley, who takes up

the newly-created post in October, said it was vital to focus on these

issues to engage the general public.

He said: 'We need to make our message mean something to people in the

street. We need to be seen as a social organ, as well as a spiritual

one, and get this message across aggressively.'

His appointment follows a four-month communications review, conducted

pro bono by Radio 2 controller Jim Moir and Grayling Group director

Angela Salt.

This brought together the Catholic Church's press, publishing and

training functions to create a unitary communications service for the

first time (PRWeek, 15 June).

By February 2002, Morley plans to have completed a full restructure of

his 20-strong team, which is likely to lead to an increase in research,

public affairs and media relations work.

He said: 'Unlike a commercial outfit, we can't compromise on our

message, which is the gospel. We have to appeal to 21st century people

in a Christian and Catholic context.

'I think the Catholic Church has been somewhat nervous in dealing with

the press. We need to be more assertive.'

Morley has worked in WSW's broadcast and interactive division for 12

months and was previously head of press for Liberal Democrat Susan

Kramer's unsuccessful London mayoral bid last year.

There are 4.2 million Catholics in the UK, but the church, which is

headed by the most reverend Cormack Murphy O'Connor, estimates only a

quarter attend Sunday Mass regularly.

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