Pope taps ex-Fox News reporter as spokesman
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Pope taps ex-Fox News reporter as spokesman

Opus Dei member Greg Burke takes over from Rev. Federico Lombardi; Spanish woman journalist named as his deputy

In this, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 file photo, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, left, and Vatican communications adviser Greg Burke, present Pope Benedict XVI's Twitter web page to journalists at the Vatican press hall. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
In this, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 file photo, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, left, and Vatican communications adviser Greg Burke, present Pope Benedict XVI's Twitter web page to journalists at the Vatican press hall. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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.

Pope Francis plants an olive tree with Israel's former president Shimon Peres, left, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, second from left, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, right, in a sign of peace during an evening of peace prayers in the Vatican gardens, Sunday, June 8, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Max Rossi, Pool)
Pope Francis plants an olive tree with Israel’s former president Shimon Peres, left, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, second from left, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, right, in a sign of peace during an evening of peace prayers in the Vatican gardens, Sunday, June 8, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Max Rossi, Pool)

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.

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