Catholic Church PR operation dubbed 'confused and divided'

The Catholic Church's PR ope­ration in England and Wales has been described as 'institutionally confused and divided' by its former comms chief.

In The Loop: Film character Malcolm Tucker
In The Loop: Film character Malcolm Tucker

In an astounding broadside against his former employer, Mark Morley criticises the Church’s ‘instinctive secrecy’ in dealing with issues such as child abuse by priests.

Morley hits out in an exclusive ­article for

His criticism comes as the Catholic Church faced a wave of negative headlines: this week it was reported that a former Jesuit Catholic school pupil was given the go-ahead to proceed with a claim for up to £5m compensation related to sexual abuse by a priest.

Morley singles out the ‘overly confrontational’ media operation of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who is soon to be ­installed as Archbishop of Westminster, and even draws comparisons between Church comms staff and Malcolm Tucker, the foul-mouthed spin doctor from the political comedy In The Loop.

Morley says Archbishop ­Nichols’ appointment ‘is sure to change the nature and style of Catholic media relations’.

He says of the Archbishop’s media ope­ration, led by press secretary Peter Jennings: ‘It is nasty and bitter stuff, easily as toxic as anything seen or heard of in Westminster, and those close to Archbishop ­Nichols have been regular and enthusiastic participants.’

Morley was director of communications for the Catholic Church in England and Wales from 2001 to 2003 and is now head of corporate comms at the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority.

Jennings hit back, describing Morley’s criticisms as ‘complete and utter rubbish’. He said of his own approach to media relations: ‘I have always been firm and forthright and never knowingly confrontational...

I have always got on well with 90 per cent of the media.’

Read Morley's attack here

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