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Media reform at the Vatican


The Vatican’s reaction to the leak scandal was not to address its inner flaws but to burnish its outer image.

Enter Twitter and Fox News.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Twitter’s liaison to religious institutions, wrote the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See looking for a Vatican contact. Soon after, she and Paul Tighe, the No. 2 official at the church’s social communication department, started talking about the possibilities of a Twitter account for the pope. They racked their brains for the perfect handle, but the Vatican’s main concern, Diaz-Ortiz said, was: “ ‘Is there any chance this account is going to get hacked?’ ”

At about the same time, the Vatican hired away a Fox News reporter. In June, Bertone’s office rang Gregory Burke, a veteran correspondent in Rome and member of Opus Dei, a conservative and influential Catholic lay organization. They wanted him to bring a “common-sense journalistic view of how things are going to play out” to the church, Burke said, adding that they needed someone to “help craft the message.”

Burke, well-liked and respected by reporters, doesn’t look like a Vatican operative. On a rainy afternoon, he showed up late at a restaurant near the Pantheon in a trench coat, swinging a long umbrella. With his thicket of auburn hair and ruddy complexion, he looks more corn- than cannelloni-fed.

“I’m within the 15-minute Roman grace period,” he said in Italian. Burke’s approach to media, like his Italian, bears a strong American accent. “I would love to bring some Roger Ailes into this job,” he said. “The difference is Roger Ailes has a lot of power, and I have very little.”

Well, ya know, humongous and continuing child abuse scandal and coverup.