73-year-old Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi who has served as head of the Vatican’s communication infrastructure since 1991 as its program director and since 2005 as its general director will be retiring on Feb.29.
He will be succeeded by an Italian layman, Giacomo Ghisani, who is also the vice-general director of the secretariat, he will be the “ad interim" administrative director and legal representative of Vatican Radio taking effect from March 1. Giacomo had been director of international relations and legal affairs at Vatican Radio for many years.
Fr Lombardi, will continue serving as the spokesperson for the Holy See and still oversee things at the Vatican press office for the time being.
Born 29 August 1942 in Saluzzo, Piedmont, Italy, he became a Jesuit priest in 1972, and then worked for the influential Jesuit-run magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica, and later served as superior of the Jesuits’ Italian province. On 11 July 2006 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him director of the Vatican Press Office, succeeding Joaquín Navarro-Valls who had held the post for 22 years
In an attempt to create communications that are strategic, accountable, and multi-channel, Pope Francis established in 2015 a new Secretariat for Communications with the aim of coordinating and streamlining the Holy See’s multiple communications outlets. Monsignor Vigano leads the secretariat as prefect and still directs CTV.
The Vatican press office released a statement saying that the management and administration of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the press office had already been merged as of January 1.
The timeline for Vatican media reforms foresees Vatican Radio and CTV — which already have been collaborating for years — to completely merge within 2016, it said.
The administrative Director of Vatican’s radio and the chief planner of Pope Francis’ trips, Mr Alberto Gasbarri will also be retiring by the end of the month.
Colombian 46-year-old Monsignor Mauricio Rueda Beltz, who works in the Vatican Secretariat of State will assume Alberto Gasbarri’s duties in handling papal trips abroad.
Currently, the Vatican relies on nine separate offices: the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; the Vatican press office; the Vatican Internet office; Vatican Radio; the Vatican television production studio, CTV; the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano; the Vatican printing press; the Vatican photograph service; and the Vatican publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. These nine operations will be gradually integrated in the nearest future.