Vatican spokesman and deputy resign

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The Pope named a member of the Vatican's communications office, Alessandro Gisotti, as the pair's interim replacement.

The news that the Vatican spokesman and his deputy have both quit was announced yesterday, just weeks after the Pope appointed his close friend as an "editorial director".

The 59-year-old former Rome-based reporter for Fox News joined the Vatican in 2012 as an advisor in its Secretariat of State and become spokesman in 2016.

Past year opened with the explosion of the global sex abuse scandal and ended with the sudden departures of the Vatican spokesman and deputy in a sign of discord and dysfunction within the Holy See.

Pope Francis with Vatican spokesman Greg Burke and deputy Vatican spokesperson Paloma Garcia Ovejero.

"[I will seek] to fulfill the office given to me to the best of my abilities with the spirit of service to the Church and to the pope which I have the privilege to learn by being next to Father Federico Lombardi for nearly 20 years", Gisotti said in a statement.

"Paloma and I have resigned, effective January 1".

In a follow-up tweet Monday, Burke, an Opus Dei numerary, wrote, "New Year, New Adventures".

Ovejero, 43, was a reporter with Spanish radio network COPE before becoming one of the highest-ranking women in the Holy See.

A Vatican source said both Burke and Ovejero had wanted more autonomy from the Vatican department that oversees all communications, known as the Dicastery for Communications.

Monsignor Dario Vigano resigned as overall head in March after a scandal over a doctored letter, a public relations fiasco two months after the Pope warned of the dangers of fake news.

Monday's resignations capped a year of tensions in Vatican communications.

He was replaced in July by Paolo Ruffini, ex-head of a Catholic television station.

The approaching summit on sex abuse is imbued with grave importance for the church, not only because of its subject matter, but also because the Vatican ordered the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to hold off on approving and implementing new protocols to hold bishops accountable for committing or failing to report sex abuse. The next year is likely to see the outcome of a canonical investigation into ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, accused of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians, as well as the results of a Vatican investigation into McCarrick's rise through church ranks.

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