Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Vatican Newspaper ( L'Osservatore Romano ) Article On Fox Journalist Greg Burke Hire For Communications ( Full Text )
Update- After reading this see John Allen's article on this move which is with most things he writes is a must well informed read.
Translated from this page. ( Note I deleted his commentary which he inserts in the article only for clarity as to what was written by the paper. Go to the link to see that.
Greg Burke and his new job: It took him five days to go from 'No' to 'Maybe' to 'Yes'
"In June 2009, I called my friend Carlo Ancelotti who had just signed up with Chelsea and I offered to be his English teacher," says Greg Burke smiling reminiscently. Evidently, that didn't go through at all, and Fox News' Rome-based correspondent for Italy, southern Europe and the Middle East went on reporting.
For another few years, until about a month ago, Burke, 52, from St. Louis, Missouri, received a telephone call that would prove to be near-historic.
It may not have been accidental that the new senior communications adviser to the Secretariat of State was a baby learning to speak when the United States elected its first Catholic President.
He was born on November 8, 1959, in an Irish-German neighborhood of St. Louis to an observant Catholic family and went to a Jesuit school before earning a degree in comparative literature from Columbia University in New York. That was when he joined Opus Dei, which became one of the firm points in a professional life that would bring him to various parts of the world.
"I was very interested in building a career, but also in the spiritual dimension of life," he says. Having decided to go into jouralism, he rose through the ranks. First as a crime reporter for a small newspaper in New York, then a punishing apprenticeship at United Press International in ChicaGo ("I worked the night shift - and that was no life"). After a brief time with Reuters and the magazine Metropolitan, he got his big break when he was hired by National Catholic Register and sent to Rome as its correspondent.
Paradoxically, since then, Burke never left Rome for good - despite hopping in and out of planes frequently. Perhaps the city struck him much more than he would admit now (he even roots for the Roma football team).
In 1990, he joined the Rome bureau of Time magazine, and four years later, he became bureau chief and Time's chief correspondent in Italy. It was also the year that TIME named John Paul II its Man of the Year.
Of those days, he recalls with particular emotion when the Pope's secretary showed him the Pope's prie-dieu in his private chapel. "He asked me to lift the knee-pad - under it were all the requests for intercession from all parts of the world, which were the object of his prayer intentions. It's how the faithful of the world were all present concretely in the Paul's meditations".
After his years of experience with news agencies and with the press, he joined Fox News after September 11, 2001. "It was a paradox, because basically, I had always looked askance at broadcast news".
Just as he recalled his journalistic career with a smile, so he speaks of "the hope and the joy which come from my faith", when we ask him if his Catholicism had ever been a source of conflict with the secular news organizations he worked with.
He shakes his head, "Not even in the most critical times", he says. "For instance, in reporting about the sex abuses by priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, I always reported from 'the middle of the road'. My bosses appreciated that. I did have a 'cultural clash' with my editors in TIME about the population conference in Cairo
The offer that has made him the center of attention today was first made to him around the end of May, "at first not quite clearly, but formalized on June 4. The next day, I said 'No, thanks'. On the one hand, it is a great professional challenge, but on the other, I was doing work that I loved very much, with an organization that continues to grow, and a road ahead that continued to be stimulating. But as I thought more about it, it became a 'Maybe' and finally, on June 10, I said Yes".
And so this American journalist who combines the enthusiasm of his great nation and his deep Catholicism with a sunny Roman disposition [quite coincidentally, he acquired Italian citizenship a few weeks ago, before this new development] has taken on an unprecedented role in an environment where, in the past, some American prelates have played a role. Between 1948-2007, three archbishops have been in charge of the pontifical Council for Social Communications - Martin John O'Connor, Edward Louis Heston and John Patrick Foley.
So did you accept the offer for the professional challenge or because you felt a responsibility as a believer?, we asked him.
Fifty-fifty», he said, and his smile becomes more contemplative. "Twice in my professional life, I found myself, by chance and by luck, in the right place at the right time - in 1994, at TIME, and in 2001, with Fox. It feels like that now, though it is also very different, of course".
Burke smiles a lot, but one does not doubt his consciousness of the responsibility and significance of his new role. "I know how newsmen think, I know how they would react to certain things, and I know something about how the mechanism of information functions," he adds, saying this is what he brings to his new assignment.
He has no illusions that he will be a 'savior' of the Vatican's communications problems: "Small steps in the right direction will help. Because there is a message and a good one about the Church - the challenge is to communicate it well".