The Vatican named former Fox News reporter Greg Burke as its new spokesman on Monday, the first time a U.S. citizen has been entrusted with leading the pope's communications team.

Burke, who is a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei, was hired by the Vatican an adviser four years ago at a time when the Roman Catholic Church was mired in leaks scandals and stuck in a public relations quagmire.

On Monday, the Vatican announced that Burke would become the pope's official spokesman, with Father Federico Lombardi stepping down from the role which he had held for 10 years.

Spanish radio reporter Paoloma Garcia Ovejero will become the deputy spokesperson -- the first time a woman has had such a senior role in the Vatican communications department.

Burke, 56, a native of St Louis, Missouri, was Fox's Rome-based roving correspondent for Europe and the Middle East before joining the Vatican. Prior to that he worked for Time magazine in the Italian capital for a decade.

He worked as a stringer for Reuters in Rome early in his career and has also written several books, one about an Italian soccer team.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams)