PopeWatch: Lord Patten





An interesting appointment by the Pope:

Seven months after hiring a consulting firm to study the Vatican’s communications structures, the Vatican has set up an 11-member committee to suggest ways to increase collaboration and cut costs and has appointed British Lord Patten of Barnes as its president.

Chris Patten, former chairman of the BBC Trust and former chancellor of the University of Oxford, will serve as president of the commission. The 70-year-old British public servant is a Catholic and was co-ordinator of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United Kingdom in 2010.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy and a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, announced the formation of the committee at a news conference on July 9.

“The objectives are to adapt the Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhance coordination and achieve progressively and sensitively substantial financial savings,” he said.

Go here to read the rest.  PopeWatch has followed the career of Chris Patten since his service as the last British Governor of Hong Kong.  He is an able man, although, alas, a liberal Catholic.  Go here for more background on him in an article which ran on him in The Spectator in 2010.

PopeWatch wishes him well in his attempt to improve Vatican use of the media and predicts that it will prove the greatest challenge of his career.

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  1. Lord Patten is the current Chancellor of the University of Oxford, an office usually held for life.

    As far as communications goes, he is generally credited with making the university better known, both as a research and teaching institution and as an academic publisher, especially in the Far East.
    I knew him at Oxford. He was at Balliol (or as we called it, Belial), when I was next door at Trinity. Balliol, by the by, was founded by the Scottish king, John Balliol, remembered as “Toom Tabard” or empty coat, the ultimate nonentity.

    Even at that age, Chris Patten was noted for his suavity of manner and elegance of dress and deportment – One of nature’s diplomats.

  2. MPS, Was the college within Oxford University that Lord Patten attended (Balliol) focused in the area of communications?
    Why would one attend Trinity as opposed to Balliol or any other of the colleges within Oxford?

  3. Slainté

    The Oxford colleges are not, strictly speaking, part of the University. They are self-governing, charitable, endowed halls of residence for teaching or research fellows and for undergraduate scholars. As in each case the number of scholars is fixed, the colleges began quite early on to accept other fee-paying undergraduates, known as commoners, from “commensalis,” (fellow-diner) who shared the common table (hence the name) and lodgings. In addition, the fellows tutored the undergraduates.

    In the 15th century, in order to exercise some measure of control over the rather rowdy student body, the University resolved to admit (matriculate) only students who were members of a college or of a licensed private hall and who were responsible for keeping them in order.. This made the colleges, in effect, the gatekeepers over admissions and so they are to this day. They were also rich, whereas the University was poor and professors could not live on their salaries, unless they were fellows of a college. Needless to say, the effective government of the University passed into the hands of the Heads of Houses, who met together, once a week in the Hebdomadal Council.

    None of the colleges specialise in particular subjects, though a famous tutor may attract students in his field.

    The only private halls nowadays belong to the religious orders, St Benet’s (Benedictine), Blackfriars (Dominican) Campion (Jesuit) a rather interesting return to the University’s mediæval roots.

    I applied to Trinity because a school-friend had gone there the year before and, from his letters, it sounded rather jolly – and so it was. Also, it was Newman’s old college, whom I had started reading quite a lot and that appealed to me.

  4. Slainté

    You might like this little anecdote. Mgr Ronald Knox was a Balliol man who became chaplain and tutor in Classics at Trinity.

    Many years later, a young man mentioned to him that he was at Trinity. “Ah! Dear old Trinity,” replied Knox, “They toil not neither do they spin.”

  5. Thank you MPS for sharing Msgr. Knox’s witty anecdote. I wasn’t sure what he meant by the term “spin” and so went to the Oxford Dictionary for clarification. Americans and English are sometimes divided by a common language. : )
    I thought you might find amusing a recent article I read crafted by an American professor who recalls an encounter in Washington with your former tutor Mrs. Anscombe. To this day, he associates “mea culpa” with her name.


  6. Slainté

    The good Monsignor was quoting Matt 6:28 and Luke 12:27

    Thank you for the article, a delightful account of Miss Anscombe, precisely as one remembers her.

    Her problem with “immediate ensoulment,” as related in the article, was the case of monozygotic twinning and it resolves itself into a question of of identity: If zygote A divides to form B and C, then B and C cannot both be identical with A, otherwise, by transivity of identity, they would be identical with each other: which is absurd.

    She was an almost fanatical opponent of Cartesian dualism; she once wrote, “If the principle of human rational life in E.A. is a soul (which perhaps can survive E.A., perhaps again animate E.A.) that is not the reference of “I.” Nor is it what I am. I am E.A. and shall exist only as long as E.A. exists. But, to repeat, “I am E.A.” is not an identity proposition.” In fact, she denied that “I” was a referring expression at all and she treated the concept of the “self” with withering contempt, as a misconstrual of the reflexive pronoun.

    Coward that I am, I once couched an objection in the evasive, “some people would say..” “A fool will say anything,” retorted Miss Anscombe.

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