Vatican hires ex-BBC Trust head Chris Patten to modernise comms

Chris Patten is to lead a committee to advise Pope Francis on how to modernise the Holy See's media strategy, the Vatican announced today.

Chris Patten: Hired by the Pope  (Credit:  (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Chris Patten: Hired by the Pope (Credit: (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

The Vatican said Patten, the former head of the BBC Trust and a Catholic, would be president of an 11-strong committee made up of media professionals and Vatican officials, chosen for their expertise in communications.

The committee’s objective are to "adapt the Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhance co-ordination and achieve progressively and sensitively substantial financial savings", the Vatican said.

Papal officials want to build on the success of digital initiatives including the ‘Pope App’ and Pope Francis’ Twitter account and strengthen them to ensure the Pope’s messages "reach more of the faithful around the world, especially young people".

Other members of the committee include Daniela Frank, executive director of the Catholic Media Council in Germany, and Gregory Erlandson, president and publisher of the US-based Catholic newspaper Our Sunday Visitor.

Patten, a former Conservative Party chairman, worked on behalf of the Government to facilitate Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain in 2010. Earlier, he served as the Government's final Hong Kong governor, from 1992 until the handover to China in 1997.

The Vatican currently has six communications departments, including a press office, an internet office and a communications council, which has a policy-making role.

Earlier this year, PRWeek interviewed the Pope's top PR figure Father Federico Lombardi.

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