This seems like it is old news, but it shows up in the New York Times today – and maybe that’s the ‘real’ news here. Dunno’. ~J
ROME — In an effort to shore up its communications strategy amid a widening leaks scandal in a troubled papacy, the Vatican has hired the Fox News correspondent in Rome as a senior communications adviser.
Greg Burke, 52, an American, is leaving Fox for the Vatican.
The correspondent, Greg Burke, 52, who has covered the Vatican for Fox since 2001, will leave the network to help improve and coordinate the Vatican’s various communications operations, Mr. Burke and the Vatican spokesman said.
Some Vatican watchers called the move a power play by media-savvy Americans — including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops — inside a Vatican hierarchy run by Italians whose most frequent communications strategy is to accuse their critics of defamation.
Mr. Burke is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, and his hiring underscores the group’s role in the Vatican.
In a telephone interview on Sunday, Mr. Burke, the Vatican’s first communications expert hired from outside the insular world of the Roman Catholic news media, said that he would not replace the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, but would advise officials on how to shape their message. He said he had turned down the Vatican twice in the past month before accepting the paid position. He will answer directly to officials in the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s executive branch.
“If you look at what the White House has, everyone knows who the spokesman is, no one knows who the secretary of communications is,” Mr. Burke said. “It’s a very similar job. It’s a strategy job. It’s very simple to explain, not so easy to execute: to formulate the message and try to make sure everyone remains on message.”
That is a tall order. Vatican experts say that the institution is suffering from a deep crisis of leadership more than of communications. Pope Benedict XVI is seen as an intellectual with little interest or skill in governing, and his deputies have been mired in infighting.
The Vatican must deal with a growing investigation that has led to the arrest of the pope’s butler in connection with the leaking of private documents, a case that could reach into higher levels of the hierarchy. On Saturday, Pope Benedict called a meeting of the high-ranking cardinals who are investigating the case.
At the same time, the Vatican’s secretive bank remains embroiled in controversy over whether it can meet international transparency standards. And on Friday in Philadelphia, a former aide to a cardinal became the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States to beconvicted of covering up sexual abuse by priests under his supervision in a vast scandal that has cost the church untold credibility and more than $1 billion in legal settlements.
Since his papacy began in 2005, Benedict has also tangled with Muslims and drawn criticism for revoking the excommunication of four schismatic bishops, one of whom had denied the scope of the Holocaust in an interview broadcast worldwide before the pope’s announcement. Asked how he would handle a case in which the message was as much an issue as the medium, Mr. Burke said, “I think at that point you say, ‘We have a train wreck coming here.’ ”
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- RT: Devil deliver me: Vatican hires Fox News journo for image makeover (jhaines6.wordpress.com)