The Catholic Church is the oldest institution in the western world, and with more than one billion members worldwide, it is the largest Christian church. Its history spans almost 2,000 years and is rooted in the Church's Canon of Scripture and Tradition. At the head of the church is the Pope, who Catholics believe is the successor to Saint Peter whom Christ appointed as the first head of His church. The Pope, according to the religion's doctrine, can speak infallibly on matters of faith and morals. The Catholic Church practises closed communion and only baptised members of the church are permitted to receive the Eucharist, or Holy Communion.
Former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten to lead Vatican media reform
Former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten is to head up an advisory committee to modernise the Holy See's media strategy for Twitter fan Pope Francis, the Vatican said yesterday.
The Vatican also said French businessman Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, former chief executive of Investco Europe, is to head up its scandal-plagued bank as part of an overhaul ordered by Pope Francis after a year-long inquiry.
Patten, 70, the chancellor of Oxford University, will lead an 11-member committee including experts from France, Germany, Mexico, Singapore and the US.
The team will have 12 months to prepare a report on adapting the Holy See media to changing trends.
The Vatican said: "Building on the recent positive experiences with initiatives such as the Pope App and the Holy Father's Twitter Account, digital channels will be strengthened to ensure the Holy Father's messages reach more of the faithful around the world, especially young people."
Franssu will lead a newly streamlined bank following internal investigations into thousands of suspicious, ineligible or inactive accounts.
Franssu said he would "continue the efforts of transparency", adding: "I see this role as a mission". The appointment comes a day after the bank said profits had been all but wiped out in cleaning up its accounts.
The Vatican's finance minister, Cardinal George Pell, said: "The hope is that in time, through natural attrition, re-organisation and replacement, there will be significant savings."
He added: "Our ambition is to become something of a model for financial management rather than the cause for occasional scandal."
A team of experts have been preparing the ground for the overhaul since last summer, when the pope vowed to make Vatican finances transparent following decades of scandal.
Outgoing bank head Ernst von Freyberg had spoken on Tuesday of the "painful but very necessary process" of cleaning up the bank.
But yesterday he said he was pleasantly surprised there was less murkiness than he had expected.