Pope names U.S. layman as No. 2 in press office, promotes Irish prelate

FILE BURKE VATICAN

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman, and Greg Burke, senior communications advisor to the Vatican Secretariat of State, attend a press conference at the Vatican in this 2012 file photo. Pope Francis has appointed Burke, a native of St. Louis, as the vice director of the Holy See press office. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis appointed a U.S. media adviser as the vice director of the Vatican press office and an Irish prelate known for revolutionizing the Vatican’s approach to social communication as bishop and adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Greg Burke, senior communications adviser to the Vatican Secretariat of State, was appointed by the pope Dec. 12 as the Vatican’s No. 2 spokesman. Burke will replace Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, who served as the press office assistant director since 1995.

Shortly after the announcement, Father Benedettini was greeted with applause by journalists, who thanked him for his years of service.

“In a certain way, I am happy of this change, even though my heart weeps at leaving all of you and the personnel of the press office with whom I have worked for many years,” he said holding back tears.

Wishing Burke well in his new role, Father Benedettini said that the change was a “sign of vitality” and “renewal” for the Vatican’s press office.

Burke, a native of St. Louis and member of Opus Dei, previously worked as the Rome correspondent for Fox News before his appointment in 2012 as the Vatican senior communications adviser.

The pope also named Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, as bishop and adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Pope Francis has named Irish Msgr. Paul Tighe a bishop and appointed him as adjunct secretary of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture. Bishop-elect Tighe, who served as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, is pictured at the 2013 Catholic Media Conference in Denver in this June 20, 2013, file photo. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Pope Francis has named Irish Msgr. Paul Tighe a bishop and appointed him as adjunct secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture. Bishop-elect Tighe, who served as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, is pictured at the 2013 Catholic Media Conference in Denver in this June 20, 2013, file photo. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Bishop-designate Tighe told Catholic News Service his reaction to the appointments was “surprise” and “enthusiasm.”

“It certainly was unexpected,” he said. “It’s an honor but also a responsibility; it’s moving onto sacred territory that I’m still now absorbing.”

The Council for Culture, he said, plays a crucial role in the church’s engagement with contemporary society, an area of interest he is “really looking forward to and learning to do.”

Bishop-designate Tighe said his experience at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications will help guide him in understanding his new role.

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