Good Heavens, The Vatican is Doing a Communications Rebrand

The Holy See announced this week that they’ve hired a consultant to expand and craft a brand identity for Vatican News.

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Dec 19 2017, 6:35pm

This year, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, one might reflect that the Catholic Church was not always a fan of new media, given the deciding role of the printing press in the rise of Protestantism and the centuries of bloody religious war that followed. But times have changed, empires have ascended and fallen, and today, the Vatican sees new opportunity in the advent of the digital. Clap your hands, all ye nations: the Catholic Church is rebranding its communications for the Internet age.

This Monday, consulting giant Accenture Interactive announced that the Vatican had hired them to design, expand and rebrand Vatican News, the Holy See’s main communication channel, into a multilingual, multimedia platform. They’ll consolidate the Vatican’s many communication channels, a pivot to video coming just fifty years after the institution’s pivot to vernacular mass. If you’re imagining cardinals in millennial pink vestments or the Lord’s Prayer rendered in Jessica Walshian script, don’t worry: the reboot will have “a new visual identity that is rooted in age-old tradition.” (This does leave the door open for Kanye West-esque Gothic calligraphy.)

The Vatican’s digital turn actually began in 2015, with an apostolic letter from the Pope consolidating communications under the newly-established Secretariat for Communication: a dicastery charged with, among other things, running the much-beloved @Pontifex Twitter account. “We are launching the last part of the reform sought by Pope Francis,” said Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, in a press release. “Each reform does not originate from a mistaken past but from a present that calls for a change: in this case, today’s cultural and digital convergence require the adoption of production processes that are different from traditional ones.”

“Today, in fact, information production and dissemination happens through agnostic software, in multiple media formats,” he continued, raising the idle question of what theistic software might look like.

The Holy See’s embrace of the digital seems to originate with Pope Francis, credited with bringing a new sense of openness and accessibility to the Church. Last week, he tweeted: “Thank you for following @Pontifex which turns five years old today. May social media always be spaces that are rich in humanity!” Finding humanity on social media sounds like tall order, but who knows? With the Vatican rebrand, we may finally beat our swords into ploughshares and study (Twitter) war no more. Miracles can happen.