14 July 2016, The Tablet

Dublin archbishop and laywoman appointed to new Vatican communications department

The new secretariat’s aim is to better co-ordinate the Vatican’s media strategy and output

Pope Francis has named the Archbishop of Dublin and an American laywoman as the first members of a newly established Vatican communications department. 

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Kim Daniels - a media consultant who is the former Director of Catholic Voices USA - are part of a 16-member body that also includes six cardinals, six bishops and two lay people. 

Daniels, a lawyer specialising in pro-life and religious freedom issues, is one of two women appointed to the group - the other is Mexican-born psychologist Leticia Soberon.

They will be members of the Holy See’s Secretariat for Communications, established following a review of the Holy See’s media strategy by Lord (Chris) Patten and management consultants McKinsey & Co. 

The new secretariat’s aim is to better co-ordinate the Vatican’s media strategy and output and to ensure it operates across all digital platforms.

Archbishop Martin, 71, has long-standing experience of working for the Vatican as secretary to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and then as the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva - he was also praised for his handling of the the sexual abuse scandal in Dublin. 

Ms Daniels is a former spokeswoman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan in his capacity as President of the United States Bishops’ Conference and was the founder and one-time director of the US-branch of Catholic Voices, a lay-led group that puts forward the Church’s position in the media. 

Soberon is a psychologist and academic specialising in communication and religion in the digital era based in Spain. She was one of the founders and the chief content officer of dontknow.net, a website devoted to exploring ethical, moral and religious questions and helped coordinate the network riial.org, a web platform for Latin American bishops.

The secretariat, led by Italian priest Mgr Dario Vigano, includes oversight of the Holy See press office. On Monday (11 July) it was announced that for the first time the press office will be led by a male-female duo of former journalists with Greg Burke the director and Paloma Garcia Ovejero his deputy. In the coming days it is expected that the formal statues of the body will be published.

The six cardinals on the body are Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai; John Njue of Nairobi: Chibly Langlios of Les Cayes, Haiti; Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar; Leonard Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Along with Archbishop Martin the bishops include Gintaras Grusas of Vilnius, Lithuania; Bishops Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy; Stanislas Lalanne of Pontoise, France; Pierre Nguyen Van Kham of My Tho, Vietnam; Gines Ramon Garcia Beltran of Guadix, Spain; and Nuno Bras da Silva Martins, auxiliary of Lisbon, Portugal.

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