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American journalist named to new Vatican communications post

Catholic World News - June 25, 2012

The Vatican has appointed an American journalist as “communicators advisor” to the Secretariat of State, with responsibility for shaping the Vatican’s media message.

Greg Burke, a Fox News correspondent, told AP that his new task would be comparable to that of a White House communications adviser. Although he will not be the official public spokesman for the Holy See, he explained: “You’re shaping the message, you’re molding the message, and you’re trying to make sure everyone remains on-message.”

The Vatican created the new position in order to improve the public image of the Secretariat of State, which has been badly battered by the “Vatileaks” scandal. The Secretariat of State, which supervises most of the day-to-day work of the Roman Curia, also controls the Vatican media outreach. Burke will be working with the press office, Vatican Radio, L’Osservatore Romano, and the Vatican television office.

Father Federico Lombardi—who remains the director of the Vatican press office—said that Burke “will have the task of dealing with communications issues in the work of the Secretariat of State, and will oversee relations with the Holy See Press Office and other media institutions of the Holy See.”

Burke, who has spent more than 20 years as a journalist in Rome—reporting for the National Catholic Register and Time magazine before taking his latest assignment at Fox News—acknowledged that he will be facing a major challenge in his bid to modernize Vatican public-relations strategies. He revealed that he had been offered the Vatican job twice, and twice turned it down, before finally accepting. He said that he would be able to provide journalists with background briefings, while helping Vatican officials work more effectively with the media.

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