History of the Dicastery for Communication

 

 

To re-unite and reorganize "all the realities that, in different ways, until now, have dealt with communication", was the concern expressed by Pope Francis to those responsible for the Vatican Media Reforms when, on 27 June 2015, he created, with the Motu Proprio, the current communicative context, the "Secretariat for Communication", later called the "Dicastery for Communication". The Pope explains, that the basic objective, in this fundamental document, is that this new sector is able to "better respond to the needs of the mission of the Church" inside this changing and rapid sector, like that of  such as multimedia information and the social , which are increasingly complex and interdependent.

The challenge for the dicastery is therefore to to bring to convergence these nine different realities, which are characterized by history and sometimes by secular traditions too, all within a single editorial and administrative system, managed by the Dicastery, which is an integral part of the Roman Curia.

 

Vatican Printing Press

The oldest of these realities is the Vatican Printing Press, which Pope Sixtus V established on 27 April 1587 with the bull Eam semper ex omnibus, with the name of "Vatican Printing House".

The current headquarters (located in the street, named after the press,  within the walls of the Vatican City) was built in 1908 by the order of Pope Pius X. In 1937 Pius XI entrusted it to the Salesian Congregation, which took care of it’s management for almost 80 years, tilli it became part of the new Dicastery for Communication.

The institutional tasks of the Vatican Press are the printing of the documents of the Holy See, such as the booklets for the pontifical celebrations, the official gazette Acta Apostolicae Sedis and the printing of the daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. Added to this, the Vatican Press supports a substantial editorial activity both on behalf of numerous offices of the Roman Curia and for private individuals, as well as taking care of all the publications of the Vatican Publishing House (L.E.V),  for the Vatican Museums and of the Vatican Apostolic Library.

 

L’Osservatore Romano

L'Osservatore Romano is a daily newspaper in the Italian language, which was published for the first time on 1 July 1861. It deals with all the public activities and speeches of the Holy Father, reports on the activities of the Holy See, news from the Italy and of the world.

The newspaper follows with complete and accurate information, the international life, the cultural debates and the events of the Church in every continent, with particular attention to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, and also hosting in it important contributions from scholars of various disciplines.

In addition, the L’Osservatore Romano has several weekly editions in the main contemporary languages.

 

Vatican Publishing House

The Vatican Publishing House (LEV) is the official publishing house of the Holy See. It’s origin is linked to the foundation of the Vatican Printing Press, though the actual development and the publishing activity of LEV goes back to 1926, the year in which the sales office was separated from the press, thus becoming a new and independent autonomous reality, to which was entrusted the sale of books printed by the Holy See.

A very  important development for the publishing house was the Decree of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of State, who on 31 May 2005 entrusted to the Vatican Publishing house, the exclusive copyrights on the texts of the Holy Father, including those written by the Pope himself, before he assumed his office as the Successor of Peter.

Apart from the main offices inside the Vatican City, the Vatican Publishing House has two outlets for sale of books to the public: the International John Paul II Library, inaugurated in 1983 and located in St. Peter’s Square  in the Braccio di Carlo Magno, and the International Benedict XVI Library, opened in November 2008 and located in Piazza Pio XII.

 

Vatican Radio

Inaugurated by Pius XI on 12 February 1931 with the radio message Qui Arcano Dei, Vatican Radio is the broadcaster of the Vatican City State. Planned and designed by Guglielmo Marconi over the decades, its physionomy has evolved into multilingual and multicultural forms. With nearly 40 editorial offices and languages spoken by colleagues from 60 nationalities, the words of the Pope and the activites of the Holy See are diffused to every latitude of the planet.

Apart from the innovation  brought in by the radio schedules, the reform has also brought in a multimedia thrust to the journalistic production of the Radio of the Pope, made evident by real-time information on the web, through the “Vatican News” portal, and by the increasingly systematic presence on the principal platforms of social networks.

 

Holy See Press Office

The Holy See Press Office is the office that deals with the release of all the news and official communications, regarding the Holy Father and the various activities of the Apostolic See.

It was founded on 20 February 1939, initially as an office dependent on L'Osservatore Romano with the aim of transmitting news directly to journalists. It experienced great change during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), when it became autonomous with the preparation of a “special press room” which continues to operate, incorporating within it, it’s precedent office. 

The task of the Press Room is also to manage the accreditation of journalists and the publication of newsletters, especially that of 12 o'clock noon time, which is also diffused through the Vatican.va website.

 

Pontifical Commission for Social Communications

When Pope Pius XII instituted it, on 30 January 1948, the work that it had to perform was inherent in it’s own name: the Pontifical Commission for the Study and Ecclesiastical Evaluation of Films on Religious or Moral Subjects.

Subsequently, during the Pontificate of John XXIII, the growing importance of this Commission led it to become on 29 October 1958, with the Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio, Boni Pastoris, as a permament Office of the Holy See, aggregated to the Secretariat of State (22 February 1959).

On 2 April 1964 with his Motu Proprio In fructibus multis, the newly elected Pope Paul VI transformed the existing Commission into the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, entrusting them with the responsibility of following and evaluating, from the perspective of the Papal Magisterium, all the problems related to the sectors of cinema, radio, television and the printed dailies and periodicals.          

The Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, was subsequently elevated on 1 March 1989 to become the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and was given the task of preparing the Pastoral Instruction “Communio et Progressio” (published in 1971 with the supplement “Aetatis Novae”, published in 1992), and also the promotion of World Communications Day, celebrated since 1967.

 

Vatican Television Center

The Vatican Television Center (CTV), was founded in 1983 by the will of Pope John Paul II in order to contribute to the universal proclamation of the Gospel, filming and documenting through the televisive images the pastoral ministry of the Supreme Pontiff and the activities of the Apostolic See.

The Vatican Television posseses an impressive archive of audiovisual recordings of all events from 1984 and is well preserved in a controlled atmosphere, and is well cataloged with the latest computerized systems.

With it’s entry into the Communication Dicastery, the productions of the CTV are marked and broadcasted, under the brand of Vatican Media.

 

Vatican Internet Service

Almost 25 years have passed, since on 25 December 1995, the first presence of the Holy See was registered on the Internet, with the insertion and online publication of the message of Pope John Paul II for Christmas, with the then newborn website, www .vatican.va.

The Vatican Internet Service has been entrusted with all the activities related to the online presence of the Vatican City State and the Holy See, both in terms of supply and also it’s services. The technicians and graphic designers are from then, part of the Dicastery for Communication from 2016.

 

Photo Service / Photographic Services

The Photographic Service of L'Osservatore Romano is made up of a team (photographers, archivists, technicians, etc.) dedicated to service of the image of the Holy Father, from filming to archiving. The Photographers are committed to the daily documenting of the activities carried out by the Pope and those highest authorities of the Holy See. The Photographic Service provides its images on request to both professional and private users.

The digital archive of the phototographic service is available both for professional consultance (publishers and newspapers), and also for private users and is now marked, under the brand of Vatican Media.