Jesuit priest remains as Vatican spokesperson, retires as head of radio

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi
will retire as head of Vatican Radio Feb. 29, as the Secretariat for
Communications takes on the general administration of the radio.

Giacomo Ghisani, an Italian layman and vice general
director of the secretariat, will be the “ad interim” administrative
director and legal representative of Vatican Radio starting March 1. Ghisani
had been director of international relations and legal affairs at Vatican Radio
for many years.

Father Lombardi, 73, will still head the Vatican press
office for the time being and continue serving as Vatican spokesman.

The personnel changes were announced by the Vatican Feb.

Born in northern Italy near Turin in 1942, Father
Lombardi was named program director of Vatican Radio in 1990 and general
director of the Vatican television center, CTV, in 2001.

During the reorganization of Vatican offices under Pope
Benedict XVI, Father Lombardi was appointed general director of the radio in
2005 and head of the Vatican press office in 2006, while continuing to lead
CTV. Before his retirement in 2013, Pope Benedict named Msgr. Dario Vigano the
new director of CTV.

In an effort to render the Vatican’s communications
efforts more effective, Pope Francis established in 2015 a new Secretariat for
Communications with the aim of coordinating and streamlining the Holy See’s
multiple communications outlets. Msgr. Vigano leads the secretariat as prefect
and still directs CTV.

The Vatican press office said in a communique Feb. 22
that the management and administration of the Pontifical Council for Social
Communications and the press office had already been merged as of Jan. 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.

Also retiring at the end of the month is Alberto Gasbarri,
the radio’s administrative director and the chief planner of papal trips. In
view of the media reform, no executive managers will be appointed to take
Father Lombardi’s and Gasbarri’s places at the radio, the communique said.

Instead, the responsibilities for both positions —
administrative and general director of the radio — will be taken care of by
the vice general director of the communications’ secretariat, Ghisani.

Gasbarri’s responsibilities for organizing papal trips
abroad will be assumed by Msgr. Mauricio Rueda Beltz, a 46-year-old Colombian
priest, who works in the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Nine Vatican media operations will be gradually
integrated over the next few years while protecting people’s jobs, the Vatican
has said.

The nine offices to be “incorporated” are 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.

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