The Vatican spokesperson and his deputy have resigned suddenly, according to an official statement from the Holy See.
The announcement does not give any reason for the departure of American Greg Burke and his Spanish deputy Paloma Garcia Ovejero but it comes two weeks after Pope Francis appointed Italian journalist and personal friend Andrea Tornielli editorial director of all Vatican communications.
"Paloma and I have resigned, effective Jan. 1. At this time of transition in Vatican communications, we think it's best the Holy Father is completely free to assemble a new team," Burke tweeted on Monday (December 31).
A former reporter for Fox News, Time magazine and the National Catholic Reporter, Burke, 59, joined the Vatican in 2012 as an advisor and became spokesman in July 2016. He is a member of the influential ultra-conservative Catholic movement Opus Dei.
Ovejero, 43, was a reporter with Spanish radio network COPE before becoming one of the highest-ranking women in the Holy See.
Earlier this year, Monsignor Dario Vigano resigned as head of Vatican communications for using a doctored letter from Pope Benedict to promote a book on the theology of Pope Francis.
The Vatican says Italian journalist Alessandro Gisotti will take over from Burke as interim spokesperson.