fog.png
Monday November 18th, 2019 9:51AM

Vatican spokesman, deputy resign amid crisis period for pope

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, and his deputy resigned abruptly Monday amid an overhaul of the Vatican's communications operations and a crisis period in Pope Francis' papacy.

The departures of Burke and his deputy, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, signaled that the problems associated with Francis' reform of the Vatican bureaucracy had come to a head, and at a very bad time: The pope is struggling to address a global sex abuse and cover-up scandal that threatens his own legacy.

Francis nevertheless accepted the resignations, which take effect Tuesday, the Vatican said in a statement. He named a longtime member of the Vatican's communications operations, Alessandro Gisotti, as an interim replacement for Burke.

"At this time of transition in Vatican communications, we think it's best the Holy Father is completely free to assemble a new team," Burke tweeted. "New Year, New Adventures."

Burke stressed that he and Garcia prayed about the decision "for months and we're very much at peace with it." Both thanked the pope.

"One stage is ending. Thank you for these two and a half years," Garcia tweeted.

The pope recently overhauled the Vatican's media operations for the second time by ousting the longtime editor of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, and naming a new director of editorial content for all Vatican media, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli.

Burke's statement on Twitter that the immediate resignations were months in the making suggested they were not over the recent appointments but a reflection of more deep-seated institutional problems.

The resignations appeared to take the new team by surprise, though the job of Vatican spokesman is notoriously difficult given the feudal nature of the Vatican, its reflexive tendency toward secrecy and the occasional skepticism of journalists.

The head of Vatican communications, Paolo Ruffini, said he respected Burke and Garcia's decision. He praised their professionalism and said he had full confidence in Gisotti, who was a longtime journalist with Vatican Radio and more recently worked as the Vatican's head of social media.

"The year ahead is full of important appointments that will require maximum communications efforts," Ruffini said in a statement.

The comment might have referred to a high-stakes summit on preventing clergy sex abuse that Francis convened for February, as well as the pope's foreign trips planned for 2019: Panama, United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bulgaria and Macedonia in the first half of the year, and rumored trips to Madagascar and Japan in the second half.

Francis still faces continued fallout from the clergy abuse scandal, in Chile, the United States and beyond. The next year will likely see the outcome of a canonical investigation of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who has been accused of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians in the United States, as well as the results of the Vatican's investigation of McCarrick's rise through church ranks.

Longtime Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo tweeted that the standard rule in crisis communications is "you don't leave in the middle of the storm but ride it out.

"To lose both the Vatican's top press hands (both quite devout) in mid-scandal appears to signal that something has become professionally untenable," Palmo tweeted.

Burke was a Fox TV correspondent in Rome when he was hired as a communications adviser for the Vatican's secretariat of state in 2012. At the time, the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI had suffered a series of communications blunders, and it was thought that Burke could provide guidance.

In 2015, Burke was named deputy spokesman under the Rev. Federico Lombardi, an Italian Jesuit.

When Lombardi retired in 2016, Burke became main spokesman and was joined by Garcia, the first woman to ever hold the position of deputy. Garcia had been the Vatican correspondent for the Cadena Cope, the Spanish broadcaster.

The two had internationalized the media operations, organizing unofficial briefings with visiting prelates, providing background information and streamlining communications with journalists during foreign trips.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Congo cuts internet after presidential poll beset by delays
As votes are counted Monday in Congo's long-delayed presidential election, the internet was cut across the vast Central African country, apparently to prevent social media speculation about the results
1:35PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Vatican spokesman, deputy resign amid crisis period for pope
The Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, and his deputy resigned suddenly Monday amid an overhaul of the Vatican's communications operations that coincides with a troubled period in Pope Francis' papacy
1:35PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Bengals fire coach Marvin Lewis after 16th season
The Bengals fired coach Marvin Lewis, ending a 16-year stay in Cincinnati that included a club-record five straight playoff appearances without so much as one win
1:21PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Revelers say hello to 2019, goodbye to an unsettling year
Revelers around the globe are bidding a weary farewell to an unsettling year filled with challenges to many of the world's most basic institutions
12:48PM ( 58 minutes ago )
The Latest: House Democrats unveil plan to open government
House Democrats are unveiling legislation to re-open the government without money for President Donald Trump's border wall
12:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
Russia: 4 die in building collapse; searchers race weather
Russian emergency officials say that at least four people have died in an apartment building collapse in the Ural Mountains region
12:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Congo cuts internet after presidential poll beset by delays
As votes are counted Monday in Congo's long-delayed presidential election, the internet was cut across the vast Central African country, apparently to prevent social media speculation about the results
1:35PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Bengals fire coach Marvin Lewis after 16th season
The Bengals fired coach Marvin Lewis, ending a 16-year stay in Cincinnati that included a club-record five straight playoff appearances without so much as one win
1:21PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Paying for Medicaid, schools will be priority for lawmakers
Many state legislatures will wrestle with rising costs for Medicaid, education and public pensions when they get back to work in the new year
1:20PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Broncos fire Vance Joseph after 11-21 mark over 2 years
Broncos fire coach Vance Joseph after back-to-back seasons of double-digit losses
1:20PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Venice to charge day-trippers for access to city center
The mayor of Venice says the local government has authorization to charge day-trippers for access to the city's historic center to defray maintenance and security costs
1:18PM ( 28 minutes ago )