The Roman Catholic Church is having a rough time in the public relations department: Frequent leaks on infighting and corruption among Pope Benedict XVIís top advisers have embarrassed the Vatican, a crackdown on American nuns is drawing bad press, and a long-running child sex-abuse scandal made headlines again Friday thanks to the monumental child-endangerment conviction of a Philadelphia prelate. Now, the Holy See has a new strategy to resolve this media mess: Hiring Fox News journalist Greg Burke as senior communications adviser. Burke, who is also a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei ó the antagonists in The Da Vinci Code ó likens his new role to that of the White Houseís top media strategist. "Youíre shaping the message," he says, and "youíre trying to make sure everyone remains on-message." Why did the Vatican tap a Fox News alum for this job? Here, four theories:
1. No one spins like Fox
"When it comes to the spin wars, having God on your side is not enough," says Canadaís Macleanís. Fox, on the other hand, is a supremely useful ally. In other words, if you "need your scandals whitewashed," says Bridgette P. LaVictoire at Lez Get Real, "just bring in someone from Fox News to do it for you." Burke has all the right qualifications to be an extraordinary "propaganda minister."
2. Pope Benedict likes Burkeís Opus Dei ties
Calling in an outside journalist from the ranks of Opus Dei has worked for the Holy See before, says John Hooper in Britainís The Guardian. The late Pope John Paul II poached a Spanish journalist, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, to be his longtime spokesman, with remarkable success. Benedict has also increasingly turned to Opus Dei for help. The chief investigator of the "VatiLeaks" scandal is Cardinal JuilŠn Herranz ó a member of Opus Dei. Even Foxís Burke acknowledges the potential importance of his Opus Dei ties. "It might come into play," he told the AP. "Weíll leave it to the worldís conspiracy theorists and remaining Da Vinci Code obsessives to figure out what that means," says Caroline Bankoff at New York.
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