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‘The Vatican’s nicest guy’


Deacon Greg Kandra

Bishop Paul Tighe with Deacon Greg Kandra

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 10/31/17

The headline refers to the guy on the left, Bishop Paul Tighe, who never fails to say hello and offer a friendly word when he bumps into a befuddled deacon from Brooklyn—as he did two years ago (as we see above) at the Catholic Media Conference in Buffalo.

I don’t know many of the Vatican’s guys, but I have met this one, and I would have to agree with a lot of what John Allen has to say here: 

Marshall McLuhan famously said, “the medium is the message.” In the same vein, one might add that equally often, “the messenger is the message.” When you’re trying to put a human face on something, in other words, the best strategy is usually to have a genuinely decent person making the pitch. For almost the last decade, that’s precisely what’s made Bishop Paul Tighe such an effective public emissary on behalf of the headquarters of the Catholic Church, because among many other qualities, the 59-year-old Irish prelate is regarded as quite possibly the Vatican’s nicest guy. On Saturday, Pope Francis elevated Tighe’s standing, naming him the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, meaning the number two official in the department led by Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, as opposed to the ad-hoc role of “Adjunct Secretary” he’s held since December 2015. Prior to that, Tighe had served as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications since 2007. In that role, he quickly became a precious resource for journalists everywhere, especially in the English-speaking world. For one thing, Tighe was remarkably accessible, always happy to take a phone call no matter how swamped he was in a particular moment. For another, he’s unflinchingly honest. He’ll tell you what he knows and what he doesn’t, he doesn’t sugarcoat situations, and there’s never any sense that he’s just trying to make himself or “the system” look better. For another, Tighe is just a deeply real person. He’s genuinely humble, never taking himself too seriously, and he looked on journalists he dealt with not just as members of the press but as friends, taking a sincere interest in their lives as well as their careers.

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