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New changes at the Vatican Press Office

Tuesday 2 August 2016, by SIGNIS

Rome, August, 2nd 2016 (Vatican Radio/SIGNIS). Yesterday, August 1st, marked the last day of Father Lombardi as the director of the Vatican Press Office. An American journalist, Greg Burke, takes his place, with Paloma Garcia Ovejero, from Spain, as vice director.

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Greg Burke & Federico Lombardi - EPA

SIGNIS takes on the occasion to thank Fr. Lombardi for a long and extremely valuable service. During his time at the Press Office, SIGNIS has always appreciated his work and commitment. SIGNIS also greets the two new officers. We wish them a long and outstanding carrier! We also praise the internationalization of the Press Office.

Fr. Lombardi became the director of the Press Office in July 2006. During these 10 years as Director, he covered 37 Papal trips and many important events, such as the surprise resignation of Benedict XVI or the election of a “Jesuit Pope” a month later. As the Vatican spokesperson, he was there in happy or difficult times, always finding the right things to say.

Born in 1942 in Italy, Lombardi became a Jesuit priest in 1972 and started working for La Civiltà Cattolica, the influential Jesuit-edited journal in Rome, and also served as the superior for the Jesuits’ Italian province. In 1991 Lombardi was named program director for Vatican Radio, and in 2005 he became general director. Lombardi became the director of the Vatican Television Center in 2001, a post he held until 2013 when Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò took over.

Lombardi brought a wide range of gifts to his role. He made himself available to journalists virtually 24/7, he was always honest about what he knew and didn’t know, he never played favorites or tried to manipulate the media, he’s got an inexhaustible work ethic, and he takes a genuine personal concern in the lives of the people around him, including members of the press corps.

Now, two lay journalists will manage the Press Office.

Greg Burke, 57, former correspondent for the National Catholic Register, the Time and Fox News, has been in Rome for more than 25 years. In 2012, he became a consultant in communication for the Secretariat of State. He has been the vice president of the Press Office since December 2015.

As a sign of rejuvenation and feminisation of the Vatican’s communication, Burke will be assisted by Paloma Garcia Ovejero, as his Vice director. She has been a journalist in Rome since 2012 for the Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, the radio station for Spanish bishops. She is very dynamic, and very popular on social media.

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