Vatican hires U.S. journalist to help media relations

Sat Jun 23, 2012 8:43pm GMT

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican, stung by communications blunders and mired in a leaks scandal, has hired an American journalist from Fox News and member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei to help improve its relations with the media.

The TV journalist, Greg Burke, and the Vatican on Saturday confirmed what a senior Church source had earlier told Reuters.

Burke, Fox's Rome-based roving correspondent for Europe and the Middle East, will assume the new post of "senior communications adviser" to the Secretariat of State, the key department in the Vatican's central bureaucracy.

Burke, 52, a native of St Louis, Missouri, has been working for Fox for 10 years. Before that he worked for Time magazine in Rome for 10 years. He worked as a stringer for Reuters in Rome early in his career and has also written several books, one about an Italian soccer team.

Burke's role - a revolution in the Vatican's communications structure - will be similar to that of communications advisers in the White House.

He will report directly to the Vatican's deputy secretary of state, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the third-ranking person in the Vatican hierarchy. Father Federico Lombardi will remain spokesman.

"I told them no twice but the more I thought about it the more it seemed like the right thing to do. I can't imagine a more exciting challenge for me at this time," Burke told Reuters.

Burke will become the only person in the Vatican's communications structure with vast print and television experience from outside the sometimes insular world of Catholic media.   Continued...

Pilgrims queue outside Saint Peter's Basilica as they wait to pay their respects to the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
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