Vatican Says Press Union No Longer Catholic

Looking for New Ways to Associate Catholic Journalists

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By Jesús Colina

ROME, JULY 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- An international union of Catholic journalists should no longer be using the name Catholic, according to two Vatican officials who are citing a serious management crisis in the group.

In a joint communiqué, the Pontifical Councils for the Laity and for Social Communications addressed the status of the International Catholic Press Union (ICPU), which has changed its name to the International Catholics Organisation of the Media (ICOM).

The note, signed by the two presidents of the Vatican dicasteries, Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, and Archbishop Claudio Celli, states that the ICPU or ICOM, "after decades of valid service to evangelization through the press, in the last years has experienced a progressive crisis of management."

"The Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in virtue of their respective realms of competency, have followed this process closely, which has had as a consequence the invalidation of general assemblies held in 2007 in Canada, in 2008 in Rome, and in 2010 in Burkina Faso."

"On several occasions, the Holy See expressed to ICPU authorities its perplexity given the lack of transparency and clarity in the management of this association, under the control of its secretary-general," the statement continued. "Last March 23, these incidents made it necessary for the Pontifical Council for the Laity to revoke the canonical recognition of the ICPU as a Catholic association, in a formal letter addressed to all the members in the person of its president."

In reaction to that revocation, the group changed its name to the International Catholics Organisation of the Media, and announced an assembly for November.

The Vatican dicasteries note their disapproval of this name.

"Moreover," they noted, "the so-called ICOM has unduly appropriated the intellectual, economic and historic patrimony of the ICPU, as well as its logo and its Web page."

"Both pontifical councils confirm their gratitude to all ICPU members, excluded because of the recent management crisis, for valuable service carried out in the past, and encourage them to spread the Gospel in the world of written communication," the communiqué added. "At the same time, they assure them that they are studying new possible ways of association to propose to journalists who wish to remain in communion with the Catholic Church."

Because of the crisis experienced by the ICPU in recent years, some national organizations of Catholic journalists, such as Spain's UCIPE, had already distanced themselves from the institution.

The origins of the ICPU date back to the year 1927, when French, German, Austrian and Swiss journalists created the International Office of Catholic Journalists, for the purpose of promoting journalism based on solid values.

The first World Congress of the Catholic Press took place in Brussels, Belgium, in 1930 and the International Catholic Press Union was born in Rome in 1936.

After the difficult years of World War II, the association began its activities again with a world congress held in the Italian capital in 1950.

Since 1966, the year in which the name ICPU was adopted, it was opened to all professional Catholics working in the realm of secular and religious information.