US Catholic journalist to be Vatican’s new communications adviser

UPDATEMedia adviser role is positive step for Vatican, says new US appointee

VATICAN CITY — What a surprise to hear the Vatican has made room for a “senior communications adviser” whose job will be to help the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in (what sounds like) building a “messaging” strategy and also to help develop and strengthen lines of communication between the Holy See’s numerous communications outlets, including the press office.

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U.S. Catholic journalist Greg Burke preparing for a live linkup with the Fox News studio during Pope Benedict XVI’s April 2010 trip to Malta. The loud music at a youth gathering made hearing the anchor’s questions a real challenge. (CNS photo by Carol Glatz) (April 18, 2010).

Anyone who has covered the Vatican has at least one story to tell (and how many GigaBytes gobbled?) about some kind of PR glitch that probably could have been prevented by a knowledgeable adviser who had the ear of those on high.

While the Vatican has often faulted an overly secular or sensationalist media industry with making the church look bad, getting a media adviser may be a sign it has realized prevention is still the best medicine.

The real clue the Vatican is taking the new position seriously is that it has hired a journalist who has worked in the secular media for decades. St. Louis native Greg Burke, 52, worked for Fox News the past 10 years covering the Vatican, Europe and the Middle East, and before that he was Rome-correspondent for Time magazine for 10 years. He’s well-versed in the church since he is a life-long Catholic and member of Opus Dei.

Burke, who has been shipped off to Afghanistan and other turbulent MidEast areas to cover events, will be used to being in the line of fire and hopefully has built up thick enough skin for his new job.

One Response

  1. Perhaps what the Vatican needs is a decisive leader more than a media advisor. The pope might be better served in giving some of those power-hungry Curial types a choice: a diocese or retirement.

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