Seeking to modernize and widen its dealings with the media, the Vatican has hired Fox News Channel's Rome correspondent to advise its press office. The move will put journalist Greg Burke, who is also a member of Opus Dei, into a new role working with Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.
For NPR's Newscast desk, Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome:
"Greg Burke, 52, has been with Fox 10 years, and he'll be the first Vatican communications expert with experience outside the world of Catholic media.
Last week, the pope's right hand man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. accused the media of 'pettiness and lies.'"
"The Vatican has been bedeviled by communication errors since Benedict's 2005 election: the pope's infamous remarks about Muslims and violence, his decision to rehabilitate a schismatic bishop who denied the Holocaust, and the Vatican's response to the 2010 explosion of sex abuse scandals in Europe are just a few. The Vatican is now dealing with leaks of sensitive documents."
"In accordance with Opus Dei discipline, Burke is celibate and gives most of his income to the movement."
According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, Burke reportedly said of his new job, "I've been dealing with the Vatican for 25 years as a journalist, it will be interesting to see how it works on the inside."
Burke is expected to bring more technical expertise, such as the use of digital media, to his new role, along with the promise of greater accessibility for English-language news outlets.
According to Mediabistro's TVNewser blog, Burke obtained dual U.S.-Italian citizenship earlier this year. A long-time resident of Rome, he has reported for a variety of news organizations in the past.