About teamwork, leadership and changes at the Holy See Press Office

A whirlwind of change has passed through the Vatican and it’s left many with a cocktail of emotions. After ten years as Director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi has stepped down. He will be missed on many fronts — his serenity, poise and sense of humour for starters. As a result of the change, Pope has selected the refreshing combination of Greg Burke and Paloma García Ovejero to act as Director and Vice Director respectively. The changes are important symbolically and, one would expect, ‘materially’. Communications at the Vatican is in great flux. There appears to be a quest for greater efficiencies, perhaps more bridge building (which invariably passes through heightened “listening” measures) and less “pontificating*”. I’m happy to start a debate on this last trait – and would be happy with opinions/feedback if readers have knowledge or a gut instinct on the matter. See * below.

But, at the end of the day, the best and most inspiring quote may have come directly from Greg Burke, who said the following line to America (Magazine):

“I am thrilled and yet find it a bit daunting at the same time. I’ve seen first hand just how hard Father Lombardi works. But good communications is about team work, we certainly have a good team, starting with the top. Pope Francis has simply been a master at getting the message out. It’s an honor to be working for him.”

Greg Burke and Paloma García Ovejero - Director and Vice Director of the Holy See Press Office, and successors to Fr. Federico Lombardi.

Greg Burke and Paloma García Ovejero – Director and Vice Director of the Holy See Press Office, and successors to Fr. Federico Lombardi.

In my experience, there is nothing better than for an organization to have a leader who appreciates the profession and the most laudable characteristics of Communication: openness, sincere desire for listening/dialogue, patience, accountability and love of the truth. When these traits are present, the plans and activities that follow can count on fertile ground from which to grow.

Greg Burke, new Director of Holy See Press Office, at the Vatican Press conference room.

Greg Burke, new Director of Holy See Press Office, at the Vatican Press conference room.

All of the parties involved – as well as anyone who works to bring the world closer together through dialogue and respect – can count on my positive vibes and thoughts (aka prayers) as they continue in their vocation of professional communicator .

* The reference to “Pontificate”, used above, was chosen with this definition in mind: “to express one’s opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic.” It strikes me that the world (non-Catholic or lapsed Catholic audiences) perceives the Vatican, under Pope Francis, to be speaking – of late – in tones that are deemed to be less pontificating. While this tone may be slightly ambiguous or unclear to some practicing Catholics, it has become appreciated by many. Author’s note: if anyone wishes to find clarity in Catholic beliefs or teaching, they should consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church and keep it handy.”



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