US journalist set to clean Vatican image

2012-06-25 20:34
Pope Benedict XVI. (Andreas Solaro, AFP)

Pope Benedict XVI. (Andreas Solaro, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rome - A scandal-hit Vatican, struggling to combat years of bad press, has hired American Fox News correspondent Greg Burke to modernise a communications strategy tainted by serious blunders in the past.

Burke said he has been hired "primarily as a strategist" to "simplify the Vatican's message [and] improve communications", though Vatican watchers have said his appointment fails to tackle the real issues within the Holy See.

One of his main tasks, Burke says, will be "avoiding too many surprises".

Such embarrassing and damaging "surprises" have included Pope Benedict XVI's move in 2009 to welcome back into the fold a Holocaust-denying bishop, and the Vatican's controversial reaction to the child abuse scandal gripping the Church.

"Clearly there are various things that the pope himself has said that could have been better expressed. I covered the sex abuse scandal from the beginning, there's been a big communication problem, no doubt about it," Burke said.

Benedict has seemingly been let down time and again by advisers who appear to have failed to warn him about taking back the ill-favoured Bishop Richard Williamson or over an inflammatory speech he gave in Regensburg on Muslims.

Avoiding surprises

"The Williamson thing could have been handled better. The pope admitted the strategy in that case did not work, " Burke, a member of the conservative Catholic Opus Dei movement, said.

"I also plan to try and avoid too many surprises, like the Regensburg speech", which outraged the Muslim world.
Vatican expert Marco Politi said Burke's appointment could help the Holy See work on having a more transparent relationship with the public, but said it was side-stepping the real issues at its core.

"The so-called errors in communication are in truth problems with the method of governance," he said.

"Benedict was warned hours before he gave the speech in Regensburg that the Mohammad phrase would have sparked reactions, but he gave the speech all the same. The problem lies in governance, not rapport with the media," he added.

Burke's appointment comes as the Vatican battles with yet another scandal - this time an apparent whistleblowers' plot to unseat the powerful secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, allegedly considered too big for his boots.

The scandal has seen reams of secret papal documents hit the newspapers, sending the Holy See's communication system into overdrive as it rushes to find the leak's source and stave off rumours of a deep-seated internal malaise.


Burke - appointed to the post by Bertone - said he does not think his assignment is linked to either the "Vatileaks" drama or another scandal surrounding the Vatican's bank, which has been freshly mired in allegations of corruption.

But Politi said that "Once more the Vatican is confusing problems of substance with problems of communication.
"The documents published have shed light on concrete conflicts over the management of the Curia by the secretary of state Bertone.

"Members of the public right now don't want to know if there is a communication strategy at the Vatican, but if the Vatican bank is using transparency measures or not."

Burke, a seasoned journalist, says he will help co-ordinate strategy by integrating communications issues within the Vatican's state secretariat and working with the tiny State's press office.

"It took me a while to find the courage to say yes. It's a challenge. I knew I was taking a big risk but I decided, in the end, to take it," he said.

Read more on:    pope benedictus xvi  |  vatican city  |  roman catholic church  |  media  |  religion

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


The rich will pay - Mpofu

The EFF in Gauteng will focus all its energy on improving the lives of the poor, the party's premier candidate Dali Mpofu says.


Latest elections multimedia

Watch what happened when we blindfolded Helen Zille and asked her to eat random things
13 days to elections - news you need to know
11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be more sensitive today and can be influenced easily by the energies around you. Try not to be swayed too much by more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.