An Irish American Catholic journalist has been hired by the Vatican to spread the good word – at the third time of asking.
Fox News correspondent Greg Burke has been appointed as a senior communications advisor to the Pope.
Burke, a 52-year-old from St Louis, has been hired by the Pontiff to improve the Vatican’s communications strategy. He arrives at a time of crisis for the Catholic Church after years of scandal and communications blunders.
The Associated Press reports that Burke will take up his new position in the Vatican’s secretariat of state.
He told AP: “I’m a bit nervous but very excited. Let’s just say it’s a challenge.
“I had been offered the job twice before. You’re shaping the message, you’re molding the message, and you’re trying to make sure everyone remains on-message. And that’s tough.”
Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed Burke’s appointment to AP.
He said Burke will help integrate communications issues within the Vatican’s top administrative office, the secretariat of state, and will help handle its relations with the Holy See press office and other Vatican communications offices.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Burke is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement.
Pope John Paul II’s long-time spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, was also a member of Opus Dei.
AP reports that the Vatican has been bedeviled by communications blunders ever since Pope Benedict XVI’s 2005 election.
It is currently dealing with a scandal over Vatican documents that were leaked to Italian journalists.
In his interview with AP, Burke acknowledged the task ahead.
“After turning down the Vatican twice before, I went with my gut and accepted third time around,” he said.
“This is an opportunity and challenge that I’m not going to get again.”
He told AP that he didn’t know what, if any, role his membership in Opus Dei played.
Burke said: “I’m an old-fashioned Midwestern Catholic whose mother went to Mass every day.
“Am I being hired because I’m in Opus Dei? It might come into play. But I was also in Opus when I was hired by Time and Fox.”
Burke has been a Fox correspondent since he joined the conservative U.S. network in 2001 and was the Time magazine correspondent in Rome for a decade before that.