Former Fox News and Opus Dei appointed as Vatican Spokesman

It has been the practice of the Catholic Church for centuries to choose Italians to staff the Roman Curia, the administrative apparatus of the Pontiff and the central body through which the Pope conducts the Church's affairs. The Vatican, however, recently added two foreigners to the Roman Curia.

On Monday, Pope Francis announced the appointment of Greg Burke, an American, as the Vatican spokesman, and Paloma Garcia Ovejero, a Spaniard, as the deputy director of the press office. This marks a significant shift in the Roman Curia. It is considered as a part of Vatican's plan to overhaul its entire communications operations for the purpose of centralizing authority under the Secretariat for Communications, a dicastery of the Roman Curia that was established by Pope Francis last year, headed by Monsignor Dario Vigano.

Greg Burke, a former correspondent for Fox News and Time Magazine, is also a member of the Opus Dei group, an institution of the Church that many describes as the most controversial force within the Catholic Church. He was first hired by the Vatican in 2012 as a communications adviser. In February 2016, he was appointed as the Holy See Press Office's vice director. Burke is not a priest. As an explanation for this, the Vatican, last Monday, said that Burke is from a traditional Catholic family. Burke is 56-years-old.

Paloma Garcia Ovejero, aged 40, is from Madrid. She has been a Vatican correspondent for the Spanish media since 2012. Having studied at New York University, Garcia Ovejero is the first woman to hold the post of the Press Office's deputy director. She has knowledge of Chinese, a noteworthy skill, especially in the wake of Pope Francis expressing his desire to visit China.

Both Burke and Garcia Ovejero are polyglots and speak Pope Francis's native Spanish.

Federico Lombardi, the outgoing Vatican spokesman, said in an interview given to the Associated Press last Monday that, he is not sure what he would do in the future, however, he will not be disappearing completely from the Vatican. Lombardi was appointed spokesman 10 years ago while he was still the director of Vatican Radio. He stepped down from that post last February. Lombardi is a person known for his dry humor and calm manner, a person who braved many Vatican storms, from sex abuse scandals to the historic resignation of Benedict XVI, calmly and efficiently.

Monsignor Vigano presented Burke and Garcia Ovejero, last Monday, to the Vatican press corps after a brief meeting with the Pontiff.


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