The man from missouri

The man from missouri

Things don't always have to be deadly serious at the Vatican, either: Journalist Greg Burke has kept his American sense of humor even in the Vatican. Now he becomes its deputy press secretary.

In 2016, the Vatican could get "sexy". At least if Greg Burke (55) keeps talking the way he has so far: with the quick wit and humor of a U.S. TV journalist. "That's not so sexy for a pope" – that's how the former Vatican correspondent for Fox News commented to journalists in 2012 about the theft of files from Benedict XVI's desk. At the time, the man from Missouri with the boyish charm was already a media adviser to the Vatican Secretariat of State, but not an official Vatican spokesman.

Spokesman of the Pope

This is now changing: in February Burke will take up the post of vice-director in the press office. This makes him deputy press spokesman of the Vatican and – even if this is not part of the official job description – for many a spokesman for the pope, mouthpiece of the "Holy Father". Then he will have to explain to the world public what Francis has said – whether it is about the Holy Year, remarried divorcees or the reproductive behavior of Catholics (Karnickel?) goes.

Burke's nomination in December represents a small cultural revolution in Vatican media sector. He is the first ever Vatican spokesman from the Anglo-Saxon world. Until now, the management level of the Vatican press office has been firmly in Italian hands – with one, albeit significant, exception: Spaniard Joaquin Navarro-Valls (1984-2006), who served as John Paul II's "Vatican spokesman.". (1978-2005) made him a media star. With Burke, the journalistic culture of the Anglo-Saxon world is also likely to find its way into the Vatican. "Hard facts" traditionally play a greater role here than in Italy. Burke's superior, the director of the press office, is still an Italian, the Jesuit Federico Lombardi (73).

Burke made Benedict tweet

Exactly what Burke did as a media adviser at the Vatican during the past three years is not known. He was to coordinate press relations between the Secretariat of State and the Press Office, the Vatican announced at the time. In the opinion of most reporters, however, a comprehensive media strategy has not been discernible in the Vatican's handling of the media to date. Before joining the Vatican in June 2012, Burke worked as Italy and Vatican correspondent for Fox News. Another station of his journalistic career was "Time Magazine".

At times it is said that Burke has called Benedict XVI a "spiritual leader". (2005-2013) brought to twitter. But the only reliable evidence is that the German pope opened his own Twitter account a few months after Burke moved into the Vatican and has since sent messages via the short message service. Burke himself, at any rate, tweets avidly – with pleasure also humorous things.

Unlike his immediate superior Lombardi and his predecessor, Burke is not a priest. Like Navarro-Valls, however, he belongs to the Catholic community Opus Dei and has made a commitment to celibate life.

Sporting spokesman

The deputy director-designate takes a sporty approach to new challenges: "I play tennis and golf, and I run. I know, therefore, that one is always at one's best when one measures oneself against others," he commented on his move to the Vatican in 2012. 'If we play well, we can win in the end'."The Catholic Church must open itself to the truth and create the greatest possible transparency, Burke said in an interview.

The rules of the game have changed in the meantime, however: For Fox News, he never had to talk for more than two minutes at a time, Burke once joked. In addition, he said, as a correspondent he had always been asked only two questions. Soon he will have to answer more than two questions in a row – and two minutes should be enough for very few answers, unless: "no comment".

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