-- ZENIT.org News Agency
Vatican Brings on Communications Adviser
Missouri-native, Veteran Journalist Greg Burke Named
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican Secretariat of State appointed an American, Greg Burke, 52, as a communications advisor. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, as the director of the Vatican press office, will continue to be the official spokesman for the Church, but Burke will a supervisor on communications.
Burke has a long history of covering Catholic Church news. He started out in the late 1980s, as Vatican correspondent for the American newspaper, the National Catholic Register. Later he was the Rome correspondent of Time magazine and more recently has worked for Fox News, where he covered the death of John Paul II, as well as events in the Middle East.
Like John Paul II's media spokesman, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, Burke is a member of Opus Dei.
According to press reports he first rebuffed the Vatican's offer of a job as media advisor. Later, however, he went to St. Peter's tomb and prayed about the decision. Then he went to St. Paul's tomb and prayed some more.
"It wasn't a lightning bolt," he said. "It was more of a gut feeling."
"This new figure will have the task of contributing to integrate attention to questions of communication in the work of the State Secretariat and to see to the relation with the service of the Press Office and of other communications institutions of the Holy See," explained Father Lombardi.
Burke's task will be to develop a strategy to improve the communications policy of the Holy See. It is a new role for the Vatican's communications efforts and comes after the recent "Vatileaks case," which involved the publication of private documents, eventually leading to the arrest of Paolo Gabriele, the Holy Father's butler.
"I hope to be able to give a hand so that the old communications machine is able to take some steps forward," said Burke to Il Corrriere della Sera, rejecting the theory that his appointment was imposed by the American bishops.
"There is an American aspect in the affair, but it does not regard my provenance, but rather the dominant English-speaking" world, he specified. In fact, the journalist explained that "all that the Curia says and does, even if in Latin or in classical English, goes today to a world that speaks the English of the Internet"; hence, his task will be to help the Curia "to take this world into account."
"My appointment reveals the perception of the need to pay attention to the media not only at the moment of communication but already in the preparation of what will be communicated. I'm not a public relations expert but I know what journalists seek, I am used to monitoring the information scene, I have some ability to understand on what thing a word or news that is given will fall," he added.
Burke will work from an office in the State Secretariat, in close coordination with Father Lombardi, and with other Vatican media.
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