Published: Thu, January 03, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke and his deputy abruptly resign

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke and his deputy abruptly resign

Burke, a 59-year-old former Fox News correspondent and member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei, joined the Vatican as an advisor in 2012 and became spokesman in 2016.

The pope's reshuffled communications team will be challenged in the new year, as a federal investigation of the scandal continues to unfold, and probes into sex abuse in the Catholic Church continue across the United States.

The pope recently overhauled the Vatican's media operations for the second time by ousting the longtime editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, and naming a new director of editorial content for all Vatican media, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli.

Francis accepted the resignations of Vatican spokesman Greg Burke and his deputy Paloma Garcia Ovejero, effective January 1, despite facing continued fallout from the Catholic Church's global sex abuse crisis.

The statement confirmed that Pope Francis accepted their resignations but did not provide more details about their abrupt exit.

Francis named Alessandro Gisotti, a veteran of the Vatican's communication team, as Burke's interim replacement.

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It gave no reason for Burke's resignation.

Neither of the outgoing journalists issued a formal statement, but Burke, 59, a former USA television news correspondent, tweeted the comment about it being the right time for the pope to assemble a new team. She was previously Vatican correspondent for Spanish radio network Cadena COPE.

Tornielli is now the third-ranking person in the communications department but his closeness to the pope, whom he has known since before the pontiff's election in 2013, will likely make him particularly influential. The Vatican has since changed its name to the Dicastery for Communication.

Monsignor Dario Vigano resigned as overall head in March after a scandal over a doctored letter, a public relations fiasco two months after the Pope warned of the dangers of fake news.

He and Garcia Ovejero both thanked the pope.

"The year ahead is full of important appointments that will require maximum communications efforts", Mr Ruffini said.

Francis also has to deal with continued fallout from the clergy abuse scandal in Chile, the USA and beyond.

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