Veteran journalist and Missouri native Gregory Burke, who is currently Rome correspondent for Fox News, will soon become "communications advisor" to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, according to Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. "This new figure", Fr. Lombardi explained, "will have the task of dealing with communications issues in the work of the Secretariat of State, and will oversee relations with the Holy See Press Office and other media institutions of the Holy See.”
The 52-year-old Burke grew up in south St. Louis and was a member of St. Gabriel the Archangel parish in the Midwestern city. In an interview with AP wire services, Burke said "It's going to be challenging and a little scary," Burke said in an interview Sunday from Rome. "This is a huge and important institution with a billion followers. I'm not going to be a powerful guy, but I'll be at the table with people who do have power, and I think my voice will be heard."
Burke will serve as an advisor to Pope Benedict and as the Vatican’s senior communications adviser, providing counsel on projecting the Catholic Church’s message to the world.
Burke most recently worked at Fox News, following a job at Time Magazine. At Fox News, he covered Europe and the Middle Easter for the last ten years. He is said to be a numerary member of Opus Dei, a movement within the Catholic Church that seeks to sanctify the work of its members. "He's a lay person, from the professional world, who understands how theologians think and shares their faith," said the Rev. John Wauck, who teaches at Pontifical University of the Holy Cross - which is operated by Opus Dei in Rome. "Plus, he's well respected and genuinely liked by the journalists in Rome."
The roving reporter turned down an initial offer from the Vatican to take the job. But, after prayer at the tomb of St. Paul, Burke decided to take the job. Burke will have his job cut out for him: the unfolding VatiLeaks scandal, poor relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Ireland, and the dust-up between the Obama administration and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops over healthcare reform, are just a few of the items in his new portfolio as public relations advisor.