VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Monday named a former Fox TV correspondent as his spokesman and tapped a Spanish woman to be the deputy, the first time a woman has held the post.
Greg Burke, 56, takes over from the Rev. Federico Lombardi, 73, a Jesuit like Francis who has been Vatican spokesman for a decade. Burke, who is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, in December moved in as Lombardi's deputy after working as a communications adviser in the Vatican's secretariat of state since 2012.
His deputy will be Paloma Garcia Ovejero, 40, currently the Vatican correspondent for the Spanish broadcaster Cadena Cope.
The change is part of an overhaul of the Vatican's entire communications operations aimed at centralizing authority under the new Secretariat for Communications headed by Monsignor Dario Vigano.
Vigano presented Burke and Ovejero to the Vatican press corps Monday after the three had a tete-a-tete with Francis.
Lombardi was named spokesman exactly 10 years ago Monday, adding to his already heavy load as director of Vatican Radio.
He won the respect of journalists for his dry humor, reliable readouts and cool amid many Vatican storms. From sex abuse scandals to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI's historic resignation and the election of a fellow Jesuit as pope, Lombardi rarely seemed to get flustered.
Lombardi told The Associated Press on Monday he didn't know what he would do in the future but that "I don't foresee disappearing completely from the Vatican," suggesting a possible informal communications advisory role down the line.
He said he had always offered Francis his availability to step aside as part of the Vatican's revamping of its communications strategy and said the time simply had arrived for the change.
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