VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Holy See Press Office has a new vice director. Greg Burke, former Fox News correspondent and a member of Opus Dei, has been appointed deputy spokesman for the Pope, as announced by the Vatican Monday.
As of February 1, Burke — a St. Louis, Missouri native — will become the Pope's No. 2 spokesman, reporting directly to longtime head spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi. In addition to arranging press conferences and helping communicate information about Vatican activities, Burke will also step in for Lombardi when he is unavailable. The new appointment leaves the position of the current English language attaché Fr. Thomas Rosica in question.
The Canadian priest and Basilian Father has effectively functioned as the English spokesman for the past several years, often appearing side by side with Fr. Lombardi during Vatican press conferences. His tenure has been dogged by controversy, however, with several high-profile gaffes that have sown doubt about his ability to represent the Holy See.
In February, Rosica threatened to sue Catholic blogger David Domet over criticisms he had made against the priest implying dishonest and unethical behavior. Rosica's attorney demanded that Domet take down the posts and remove all reference to Rosica or else suffer a lawsuit.
ChurchMilitant.com first reported on the incident, which soon spread throughout the Catholic Internet, leading to loud complaints on Catholic websites and news outfits about Fr. Rosica's petty bullying of a small-time blogger. After the public outcry, Fr. Rosica relented and withdrew his threat to sue.
In early October, Fr. Rosica caused scandal when he permitted a homosexualist dissenter into the Synod press conference to ask a question — a rare privilege, and one that was repeated later on. Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry — a Catholic group that dissents on Church teaching on homosexuality and whose founder has been censured by the Vatican — was granted a press pass, even though DeBernardo is a gay activist and not a journalist. Meanwhile, faithful Catholic journalists with legitimate media credentials were denied entry into the Synod press hall.
The action was seen as further proof of Rosica's attempts to sway Synod proceedings in favor of a homosexualist agenda; although Synod Fathers said homosexuality was hardly discussed in their meetings, Rosica presented a different picture as spokesman, offering multiple statements indicating that homosexuality was a major focus among the bishops.
This agenda was in evidence before the start of the Synod, when Fr. Rosica downplayed the controversial guest list for the Pope's visit to the White House. Although the list included LGBT activists, a gay Episcopal "bishop" and a dissident nun to greet the Pope, causing outrage among faithful Catholics, Rosica told the media: "I applaud the White House for having such a wonderful reception."
Father Rosica again made headlines that month for blocking numerous critics on social media. As prominent spokesman for the 2015 Synod on the Family, Catholic authors noted the impropriety of the "ideological purge" on Twitter, and a hashtag was even created for the phenomenon: #RosicaBlockParty, with a related Facebook page. To critics, the incident served as yet more evidence of Fr. Rosica's pettiness and lack of professionalism.
The English language spokesman was caught in a deliberate falsehood in early October when he claimed the Pope had not met privately with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk jailed for refusing to issue same-sex "marriage" licenses. Davis had become something of a conservative folk hero to those opposed to the gay agenda in America, and reports of the papal meeting were met with howls of protest from the liberal media and, conversely, shouts of victory from conservatives, who saw this as a major boost.
In the midst of the media flurry, Rosica stepped in and downplayed the significance of the meeting, claiming Davis had only been one among a number of other delegates that day, and that she hadn't received any special attention from the Holy Father. But Davis and her attorney went on record, with photos as evidence, confirming that the private meeting had indeed taken place, and that Pope Francis had encouraged her to "stay strong" in her fight against gay "marriage."
Whether Rosica will continue in his position as English spokesman for the Holy See remains to be seen, but with a new English speaker working directly under Fr. Lombardi, coupled with Fr. Rosica's numerous public gaffes and controversies, some are wondering whether Rosica's days are numbered.
Not a subscriber? Start your subscription.