The director and vice-director of the Vatican’s press office have resigned together, in a move that appears to indicate sharp tensions at the top of the city-state’s complicated communications structure.
The resignations of American Greg Burke and Spaniard Paloma García Ovejero seemed to catch their supervisor, Italian Paolo Ruffini, by surprise. In a statement, Ruffini said he had “learned” of the decision, and called it a “free and autonomous choice.”
“I cannot but respect the decision they have taken,” said Ruffini, head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication.
Burke and García’s resignations were announced with a short note in the Vatican’s daily bulletin Dec. 31. Pope Francis appointed Alessandro Gisotti, an Italian who had been serving as the head of social media for the communications dicastery, as new interim director of the press office.
No reasons were given for the shake-up. In a tweet, Burke said he and García would be leaving Jan. 1. “At this time of transition in Vatican communications, we think it’s best the Holy Father is completely free to assemble a new team,” he said.
The surprise resignations come two weeks after Francis appointed a personal friend, Italian Andrea Tornielli, to fill an open high-level position in the communications dicastery.