Rome, October 31st (The Tablet/Crux/RV/SIGNIS). Recently, Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Paul Tighe as Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Culture, making him one of the highest-ranking Holy See officials from the English speaking world. 

He is now number two at the Roman Curia office led by Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, that was established in 1982 by John Paul II and which has its roots in the Second Vatican Council’s vision for opening up dialogue between believers and non-believers. Basically, the idea is that it’s supposed to be the Vatican’s beachhead for engaging people who don’t necessarily share the Church’s values or worldview. One expression of that is the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” project launched by Ravasi in 2011.

Bishop Tighe, 59, Irish, obtained a Bachelor of Civil Law in Law at the University College Dublin in 1979. Ordained priest in 1983, he studied moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. A professor of moral theology at the Institute of Education Mater Of Dublin in 2004, was appointed director of the Dublin Archdiocese Communications Office.

In 2007 Benedict XVI appointed him secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. In 2014 he was appointed the secretary of the Vatican Media Reform Committee. In 2015 Pope Francis appointed him as adjunctsecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and bishop of Drivasto. On February 27, 2016, he received the episcopal ordination in St. Peter's Basilica.

He quickly became a valued interlocutor between media organisations and the Vatican as well as coordinating and promoting Catholic communications. During his career at the Holy See, he played a key part in setting up the papal twitter account - which now has 40 million followers across nine languages.  

But his latest appointment makes him the number two to Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the department, and shows the high regard with which Bishop Tighe is held in the Holy See. He and the cardinal have already been working closely on the council’s diverse portfolio which includes initiatives on art, sport and a dialogue with atheists.

Last year, Helen Osman, president of SIGNIS, invited Bishop Paul Tighe for an interactive talk at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas on “Compassionate Disruption: The Vatican and Innovation”.