Greg Burke will bring extensive experience of print and television journalism

A former correspondent for Fox News has been appointed as the new Vatican director of communications.

Greg Burke will become “senior communications adviser” to the Secretariat of State. He will help coordinate communications between the Holy See press office, other Vatican communications departments and the secretariat of state.

 Mr Burke said that his role would be different from that of Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the head of the Holy See Press Office.

The move represents a radical shift in the Holy See’s public relations strategy, which has often been criticised for its poor relations with journalists. He will bring to the Vatican press operation extensive print and television experience from outside the Catholic media.

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The Holy See has suffered from several damaging public relations mishaps in recent months, most recently the Vatileaks scandal. Last month the Pope’s former butler was arrested for allegedly stealing documents which ended up in journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi’s bestseller His Holiness.

The 52-year-old hails from St Louis, Missouri, and studied journalism at Columbia University before working as a correspondent for Reuters and Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register, as well as being the author of several books about Italy. He is a numerary member of Opus Dei, the personal prelature.

He said he had twice refused a similar offer from the Vatican, “because I had a really great job”.

He told media: “I feel exactly the way I felt in Lebanon at the start of the 2006 war – nervous and excited at the same time, with a guarantee that it is going to be interesting. I don’t know how it’s going to work out, but I know it’s going to be interesting.”

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