The Church Up Close: helping journalists to get the story straight
(Vatican Radio) "The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict
XVI" is the name of a Professional Seminar for Journalists held by the Pontifical
University of the Holy Cross in Rome.
The six-day seminar is offered to journalists
across the globe every other year, and is taking place this September from Monday
16th at the University headquarters just across the river from Vatican Radio.
Radio's Linda Bordoni spoke to father John Wauk, a Professor at the Pontifical University
of the Holy Cross, and President of the Organizing Committee of the Seminar.
to the interview...
Wauk explains that the way journalists cover Vatican stories since the beginning of
the Papacy of Benedict XVI is indeed different to how they would have gone about reporting
during the age of Pope John Paul II. He explains that during the papacy of the latter
a great deal of media coverage was focussed on the personality and on the person of
John Paul II. This - he says - "has changed quite a bit and the coverage of "Catholic"
stories is not as centered upon the person of Benedict". That's why - he says - we
talk about covering Catholicism "in the Age of Benedict" and not "covering the Papacy"
or something along those lines.
Fr. Wauk says that having the Seminar in Rome
provides a vantage point for aspiring journalists from which to see the whole Church.
A convenient place from which to see a bit of everything. And that - he says - is
what we try to provide in our Seminar.
As well as giving participants an array
of tools to strengthen their coverage including a basic sense of the lay of the land
at the Vatican, the Seminar also offers a series of in-depth analyisis of specific
hot-button issues confronting the Church today such as inter-religious dialogue, social
and bio-ethical topics , sexual morality and so on as well as the nature and structure
of the Catholic Church, its organization and its role in international politics.
the seminar includes meetings with representatives of Vatican organs such as the Pontifical
Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the Secretariat of State, the
Press Office of the Holy See and so on.
For example Archbishop Fisichella
will be talking about the upcoming "Year of Faith" and Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi
(a returning guest) will be telling young journalists how the Press Office operates.
Seminar programme also includes visits to significant historic sites in Rome like
the Roman necropolis beneath the Basilica of St. Peter, the Sistine Chapel and the
The Seminar, sponsored by "Our Sunday Visitor" has been so successful
in the past years that one of the Professors from Columbia University Journalism School
in New New York recently asked the Santa Croce University to organise a class for
To the question "How important is it for the mission of the Church
today that Church news be reported in a correct manner? Father Wauk says "It is essential
for the Catholic Church to be involved in media of all sorts. We are all familiar
with the explosion of media coverage and all the new media, but it means information
is very difficult to control. And a lot of information is partial or mixed with error,
or out of context. So what we are trying to do do is help journalists to get the story
straight. Frequently the errors and misinterpretations that one encounters aren't
the product of ill will, but the Catholic Church is a very complicated institution
and not easy to grasp at first glance, especially for people who may be unfamiliar
with the Church's history. So we are trying to do our part to overcome the difficulties
that are so inherent in covering the Catholic Church in today's very rapid media environment".