The Church up close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis

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A one-week seminar in Rome for journalists covering the Catholic Church.

Issues of faith in public life dominate world news, but religion is often misunderstood or ignored in media coverage. It’s understandable. The world’s religions are the result of hundreds of years of history, prayer and tradition, and this is not easy to reflect and to explain in newspaper, radio, TV or via new-media formats. Many journalists are seeking keys to unlock this complex beat that sparks enormous public interest. The Vatican The Holy See, the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church are relevant actors in international news, and therefore subjects of universal journalistic interest.

Now, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome is offering the fifth edition of its intensive one-week seminar in English, The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis. The seminar, from September 5-11, 2016, is designed for foreign journalists who cover the Vatican from afar.

St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica

According to the president of the organizing committee, Rev. Prof. John Wauck, “The Church Up Close seminar was inspired by a series of classes that our school was already offering throughout the year for Rome-based ‘vaticanisti’. The Church Up Close is a condensed, intensified and amplified version of the class that has been tailored for journalists from around the globe.”

Previous seminars have seen the participation of reporters from media outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, Il Corriere della Sera, El País, the BBC and Le Monde, to name a few. Maria-Paz Lopez, former chair of the IARJ, spoke at the third edition of this seminar, held in September2012 in Rome.

The seminar combines conference sessions, on-site visits to places such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, and personal encounters with curial officials and veteran Vatican correspondents. The goal is to provide both a basic sense of the lay of the land at the Vatican and a serious, in-depth analysis of specific hot-button issues facing the Church today.

The Church Up Close provides an insight into the nature of the Catholic Church and the inner workings of the Vatican. Conference sessions and interactive workshops address topics from the financial life of the Holy See, the future of the marriage, the reform of the curia, Christians and the Arab world, the Magisterium of Pope Francis, new challenges in bioethics, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue, and the state of the Church in Latin America.

In addition to conference sessions, this week-long seminar features on-site visits and personal meetings with curial officials and veteran Vatican correspondents. The goal is to provide both a basic understanding of the Vatican and an in-depth analysis of specific hot-button issues regarding the Church today. Journalists seeking to meet the demand with quality information are given the opportunity with The Church Up Close.

The seminar costs €875 (travel and lodging not included). Candidates may request a partial scholarship of up to 700 Euro (only applicable to Seminar fees), by June 19,2016. The seminar has been made possible by a grant from the U.S.-based Our Sunday Visitor Institute, and to the collaboration of the Iscom ( and the AIGAV (International Association of Journalists accredited to the Vatican).

For more information:

How to apply:

The program in pdf is available here: