VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis Thursday appointed Matteo Bruni director of the Holy See Press Office, effective July 22. No vice director was named.
Bruni replaces Alessandro Gisotti, who has been serving as director ad interimafter the resignations of Greg Burke and Paloma Garcia Ovejero at the end of 2018.
Bruni, 43, an Italian born in Great Britain, has worked for the Holy See press office since 2009, including as chief press handler, and most recently, as the lead on organization of papal trips.
In 2016, he became coordinator of the Media Operations section; in which he handled the accreditation of journalists for events during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Though not a journalist, Bruni's background includes time working with the Sant'Egidio Community, a lay Catholic movement, for which he traveled around the world coordinating charity initiatives.
Bruni speaks fluent English and has an academic background in foreign languages. He also speaks Italian, Spanish, and French.
Gisotti, who has taken part in five papal trips during his six and a half months as interim director, has been given the role of vice editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, serving under editorial director Andrea Tornielli (named to the position in early December 2018) and Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication since July 2018.
Sergio Centofanti, a journalist for Vatican News, was also named a vice director of editorial direction for Vatican communications.
The editorial director and his new deputies will direct all of the content of the Vatican Media platform, coordinate the editorial line of Vatican communications, and oversee the integration of traditional media and digital media with attention to the universal dimension of the Holy See’s communications.
Gisotti and Centofanti’s appointment to the editorial office of Vatican Media strengthens that department and likely marks a shift toward putting Vatican Media at the center of Vatican communications, rather than the press office.
The appointment of a permanent director fills the Holy See press office roster (minus a vice director) and completes the restructuring announced in January, which created the positions of senior advisor, two assistants to the director, and office manager.
These positions, which will remain stable, are currently filled by Romilda Ferrauto as senior advisor; Sr. Bernadette Reis and Raul Cabrera Perez as assistants to the director; and Thaddeus M. Jones as office manager.
Gisotti said July 18 it had been a privilege to be the pope's spokesman "during such an intense period of his Pontificate" and that he is grateful for Francis' "fatherly support."
"I am sure that Matteo Bruni will know how to manage the extraordinary team here at the Press Office in the best way possible," he said. "I offer him my best wishes for success, as well as my availability to collaborate."
In an interview with Vatican News July 18 Bruni said the nomination is an honor, adding that his professional relationship with the media "has always been rather intense."
"Even though behind the scenes, I tried to make my work contribute to correct information, trying to convey some of the main themes of the pontificate," he said. "I am aware that now a different kind of commitment is beginning and I hope that mutual trust remains unchanged."
Reform of Vatican communications was launched in June 2015 with Pope Francis' creation of the Secretariat for Communications, which consolidated nine communications offices under one authority and prioritized an increase in the use of digital media.
In March 2018 Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano stepped down as the secretariat's first prefect, in the wake of a fake news scandal concerning a letter from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. Vigano continues to work in the department as a consultor.
Three months later, in June 2018, the Secretariat was renamed to "dicastery," the general word used for the Vatican's various offices and departments, which was seen by some as a downgrade.
New appointments rounded out 2018, which ended with the surprise double resignation of Burke and Ovejero as the papal spokespersons.
CNA's Andrea Gagliarducci contributed to this report. The report was updated at 6 am MDT.