The relationship between the Vatican and Public Relations is, at the very least, as old as the Propaganda Fide (1622)…
More recently…the first Masters program in Public Relations ever held in Italy was in 1960/61, organized for the Vatican by the Dominican Father Felix Morlion, head of the then Pro Deo University of Rome. (Today it is LUISS, a reputed Business School owned by the National Confederation of Industry.)
Joaquim Navarro Vals, the Spanish lay member of Opus Dei who for many years ran the Vatican’s public relations under Pope John 23rd–and today is a prominent and active member of Italy’s intellectual scene–has always been a very curious reader and intelligent commentator of organizational communication and public relations.
Only a few days ago his successor, Father Federico Lombardi, pronounced a highly interesting speech in which he gave a vivid account of the Vatican’s ‘early adopter’ relationship with the Internet and illustrates the challenges of social media referring to recent controversies related to the Pope’s recent travel in Africa and the Middle East.
A very interesting read from the single Institution which, more than any other, has accumulated public relations practice. lombardi speech in english.
For one of those coincidences which happen in one’s life, despite having always been an atheist, I was a student of Father Morlion’s first Master course in Rome and graduated in 1962 with a paper on ‘internal communication and relationships with trade unions’.
Additionally, besides teaching global relations and intercultural communication at NYU, today I also teach Public Relations with undergraduates in their senior year at the Vatican’s LUMSA University.