Father Federico Lombardi is retiring from the Vatican press office, after 10 years. That left the Basilica door open for a new person to take the reins and today, at a press conference, Pope Francis formally welcomed Lombardi’s successor.
He is Greg Burke, a Columbia University Class of 1983 alum and veteran journalist. Another reporter is also stepping in to take Burke’s place. From today’s report by Junno Arocho Esteves of Catholic News Service:
Burke, a native of St. Louis and the current vice-director, succeeds the Italian Jesuit, while Spanish journalist Paloma Garcia Ovejero will step in to Burke’s current role, making her the first female to hold that position.
Burke was Fox News’s Rome correspondent before being hired by the Vatican in 2012 as special communications adviser in the Secretariat before he was named by Pope Francis as the vice-director of the press office last December. Burke spent 24 of his past 28 years based in Rome as a journalist – with the National Catholic Register, Time magazine and the Fox News network.
Ovejero, who earned her Master’s degree in management strategies and communications from NYU, comes to the Vatican from Spanish radio broadcaster Cadena COPE. Burke, when at Columbia, majored in comparative literature with a specialization in journalism.
At today’s press conference, Ovejero framed her status as the first female vice-director of the Holy See Press Office with humility and class. She suggested that the Church’s true female pioneers are “the ones who found the empty tomb and proclaimed the Resurrection to the apostles.” Can’t argue with that.
P.S. One more reason to love this trailblazing Vatican staffer: the image for Overjero’s Twitter account is a still photo from the beloved 1940 journalism-themed movie His Girl Friday.
Screen grab image of Ovejero via: YouTube