Vatican spokesman, deputy resign amid crisis period for pope

Pope Francis

The Vatican spokeman, Greg Burke, and his deputy resign suddenly

It gave no reason for the resignation of Greg Burke, an American, and Paloma Ovejero, a Spaniard.

Pope Francis has ushered in the New Year with an ode to motherhood, reminding the faithful that a mother's example and embrace is the only antidote to today's disjointed world of solitude and misery. They quit two weeks after Pope Francis appointed a personal friend, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, to become editorial director of all Vatican communications.

The Vatican spokesman and his deputy resigned Monday to the surprise of the Vatican communication team amid preparations for Pope Francis' summit on sex abuse.

Their surprise departure was explained on Twitter by Burke, who wrote: "Paloma and I have resigned, effective January 1".

The source said it was believed to be the first time both posts had changed hands simultaneously, underscoring the differences of opinion.

Francis appointed Alessandro Gisotti, a member of the Vatican's communications office, as interim director of the Holy See Press Office. The worldwide media onslaught, and the expectations will be big - the first big challenge for the new Team.

The head of Vatican communications, Paolo Ruffini, said he respected Burke and Garcia's decision.

"The year ahead is full of important appointments that will require maximum communications efforts", Ruffini said in a statement.

Burke was a Fox TV correspondent in Rome when he was hired as a communications adviser for the Vatican's secretariat of state in 2012.

During the sex abuse scandal in Chile earlier in the year, Pope Francis was forced to apologize for "errors in judgment" after calling accusations of cover-up against Bishop Juan Barros a "calumny" for years.

Pope Francis made no overt reference to the tumult, but called for Roman Catholics to remain rooted to the Church, saying: "Unity counts more than diversity". At the time, the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI had suffered a series of communications blunders and it was thought Burke could provide guidance.

The pope named Burke and Ovejero, 43, to the press office positions in July 2016. Garcia had been the Vatican correspondent for the Cadena Cope, the Spanish broadcaster.

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