Seminar to help journalists strengthen coverage of the Catholic Church


This coming fall the School of Church Communications at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross will be offering a one-week seminar designed to provide religion journalists with an array of tools to strengthen their coverage of today’s Roman Catholic Church.

A press release from the university explains that the seminar will be titled, “The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI,” and be held in Rome from September 8 to September 14, 2008. Any working journalist may attend the English language seminar, but space is limited.

Speakers will include Cardinal Francis Stafford (former archbishop of Denver and head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, now Apostolic Penitentiary), Rev. Brian Ferme (former dean of Catholic University of America’s canon law department and now head of a new school of canon law in Venice), Rev. David Jaeger, O.F.M. (the Holy See’s expert on relations with Israel) and Francis Campbell (the British Ambassador to the Holy See).

The idea for the week-long class was born out of the success of a seminar that the Holy Cross’ School of Church Communications already offers, according to school dean Prof. Diego Contreras.

“In essence, ‘The Church Up Close’ seminar is a condensed version of a series of classes that our School already offers – once a month, in Italian - during the academic year for Rome-based ‘vaticanisti.’ The success of that series inspired us to offer a similar program - all in one week, and in English - for journalists who are not permanently based in Rome,” Contreras explained.

In addition to classroom sessions, the fall seminar also features on-site visits and personal meetings with curial officials and veteran Vatican correspondents. The seminar aims to give journalists a survey of the Vatican’s operations, an in-depth analysis of specific hot-button issues facing the Church and insights into the Pope’s leadership of the world’s largest church.

Fr. John Wauck, one of the seminar’s organizers, says he thinks journalists will be helped by the course because, “Covering an institution as old and as large as the Catholic Church has always been a huge challenge, and in today’s shrinking world, it’s becoming ever more necessary to tell even local stories about the Church from a global perspective. The seminar should help reporters do that. What’s more, Rome is an ideal setting for reflecting on religion and the media with journalists from around the world.”

Detailed information about “The Church Up Close” seminar can be found at

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