Greg Burke
Greg Burke

Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke today announced his resignation effective Jan. 1, as Pope Francis revamps his communications shop.

Burke joined the Vatican as strategic communicators adviser in 2012 from Fox News, where he served as Rome correspondent.

The St. Louis native, who also reported for Time, was promoted to deputy director of the Holy See press office in 2015 and director in 2016.

Paloma Garcia Ovejero, Burke’s deputy, has also stepped down.

Pope Francis has appointed Alessandro Gisotti, former deputy editor-in-chief of Vatican Radio, as interim director of the press office. He was social media director at the Vatican's dicastery for communication.

Paolo Ruffini, head of the dicastery, expressed appreciation for Burke and Garcia's professionalism, humanity and faith."Today, faced with what is their independent and free choice, I can only respect the decision they have taken," he said in a statement.

The Roman Catholic Church is wrapping up a “hellish” year that was filled with investigations in a dozen US states and DC into sex abuse scandals and calls from conservative clerics for the resignation of Pope Francis.

The Pope in February will convene a meeting of bishops from throughout the world to address the sex scandal issue.