VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Monday named a former Fox TV correspondent as his spokesman and tapped a Spanish woman to be the deputy, the first time a woman has held the post.
Greg Burke, 56, takes over from the Rev. Federico Lombardi, 73, a Jesuit like Francis who has been Vatican spokesman for a decade. Burke, who is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, in December moved in as Lombardi’s deputy after working as a communications adviser in the Vatican’s secretariat of state since 2012.
His deputy will be Paloma Garcia Ovejero, 40, currently the Vatican correspondent for the Spanish broadcaster Cadena Cope.
The change is part of an overhaul of the Vatican’s entire communications operations aimed at centralizing authority under the new Secretariat for Communications headed by Monsignor Dario Vigano.
Vigano presented Burke and Ovejero to the Vatican press corps Monday after the three had a tete-a-tete with Francis.
Lombardi was named spokesman exactly 10 years ago Monday, adding to his already heavy load as director of Vatican Radio.
He won the respect of journalists for his dry humor, reliable readouts and cool amid many Vatican storms. From sex abuse scandals to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s historic resignation and the election of a fellow Jesuit as pope, Lombardi rarely seemed to get flustered.
Lombardi told The Associated Press on Monday he didn’t know what he would do in the future but that “I don’t foresee disappearing completely from the Vatican,” suggesting a possible informal communications advisory role down the line.
He said he had always offered Francis his availability to step aside as part of the Vatican’s revamping of its communications strategy and said the time simply had arrived for the change.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.