Vatican Hires Large American Consultancy Firm to Advise on Media Operations

The Vatican has announced it will hire McKinsey & Co., a large U.S. media consultancy firm, to advise it on media operations, including a modernization of its communications operations.

According to Edward Pentin at National Catholic Register, the Vatican issued a statement Thursday morning indicating that following a bidding process, management consultants McKinsey & Co. would be hired “to provide advice contributing to the development – in close collaboration with the heads of the relevant departments – an integrated plan to make the organization of the means of communication of the Holy See more functional, efficient, and modern.”

The Register report indicates the Vatican has also chosen Netherlands-based auditors KPMG to study the Vatican’s internal accounting.

The decisions were made on Wednesday by the commission that was appointed by Pope Francis to study the Vatican’s overall finances, part of the pontiff’s effort to reform the Roman Curia. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Vatican did not disclose the value of the contracts.

The Vatican said the media consultancy effort seeks to “provide the commission with the information needed to make appropriate recommendations to the Holy Father.”

According to the Register:

For some years, officials have argued for a better communications system in the Vatican, especially after a string of perceived media gaffes and the Vatileaks scandal. Observers have criticised the curia for lacking a centralized office of communications, leading to unnecessary duplication in various Vatican media outlets. Other observers have also proposed having a coordinated network of media spokesmen in some or all of the dicasteries (Vatican departments), overseen by the Holy See's Press Office director.

McKinsey & Co. identifies itself as a “global management consulting firm,” and says it is the “trusted advisor to the world’s leading businesses, governments, and institutions.”

The company’s website states it “strives for world-shaping client impact” and is “committed to social impact and sustainability.”

In June, Catholic World News reported that Pope Francis had asked Thomas von Mitschke-Collande, a German manager consultant from McKinsey & Co., to suggest administrative changes at the Vatican. Mitschke-Collande was recommended to the pontiff after he advised the archdiocese of Berlin and the German bishops’ conference.

Mitschke-Collande, who is the author of Is The Catholic Church Self-Destructing?, has argued that despite a popular demand for spiritual direction, the Church is failing because its leaders have not responded to that demand.

The WSJ reports that McKinsey will work on integrating the Vatican’s numerous media outlets, including newspaper, television, and radio.

Meanwhile, auditors KPMG will “study and address” the economic and administrative activities of the Holy See. KPMG is expected to collaborate with Pope Francis’ commission as it takes “whatever steps are necessary to align the accounting procedures of all agencies of the Holy See with international standards.”

Other Vatican outsourcing has included regulatory compliance firm Promontory Financial Group, which has installed two dozen people at the beleaguered Vatican Bank to review accounts and ensure procedures conform to international norms to combat money-laundering and terror financing. Promontory also advises APSA, the financial institution that administers Vatican real estate.

In addition, consulting firm Ernst and Young has been hired by the Vatican City State, which controls the Vatican Museums, to assess its finances.

In June of 2012, Reuters reported that Pope Benedict had hired American journalist Greg Burke of Fox News, a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei, to help improve its media relations in the wake of the Vatileaks scandal.

Burke assumed the post of “senior communications adviser” to the Vatican Secretariat of State – similar to that of White House communication advisers – a role that revolutionized the Vatican’s communications structure.


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