New Vatican 'spin doctors' appointed

Paloma Garcia Oviedo and Greg Burke

 ROME - - Following the imminent retirement of Father Federico Lombardi, Pope Francis Monday appointed new heads of the Press office of the Vatican, Gregory Joseph Burke and Paloma Garcia Oviedo, the Holy See said. Mr Burke, who was formerly deputy director of the Vatican press office, becomes its director, while Ms Oviedo will assume the position of deputy director.

 The first woman to have held the position of deputy director, Ms Oviedo is a Spanish journalist who has worked for the Spanish broadcaster ‘COPE’ since 1998 as its Vatican correspondent. She will take over Mr Burke’s role as deputy director and Mr Burke, a 'supernumerary' member of Opus Dei like the earlier Holy See press office director Joaquin Navarro Valls,  will take over from Fr. Lombardi, a Jesuit, as director.

 American journalist Burke, a former correspondent for TIme Magazine and Fox news, has been expected to take over from Lombardi and has held the position of Communications Advisor to the Vatican Secretariat of State since July 2012.

 The appointment of the two marks a significant change in the running of the Press office of the Vatican, firstly because it is the first time that two lay people have held the positions of director and deputy director, and also because it is the first time for a women to be deputy director of the Press office.

 Ms Oviedo told journalists: “Papa Francesco met us this morning and was serious and solemn with us. It is clear that this role requires loyalty and seriousness.”

 Fr Lombardi will conclude his position as current director of the Press office of the Vatican on July 31, when the new heads will take their place as director and deputy director.