Saturday 31st January 2015

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Covering Catholicism… Fr. John Wauck Reflects On Teaching Communicators To Communicate

July 2, 2014 Frontpage No Comments

By TOM HOOPES

(Editor’s Note: ZENIT News Agency reprinted this with permission from the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College in Kansas.
(ZENIT made the text available; all rights reserved.)

+    +    +

ROME (ZENIT) — Last fall, Fr. John Wauck spoke to the Gregorian Fellows at Benedictine College about Pope Francis, the communicator. Now he will be offering a weeklong seminar in Rome for journalists, “The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis,” organized by the School of Church Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, September 8-14.
I first met Fr. John in Washington, D.C., when he was a speechwriter for U.S. Attorney General William Barr and have followed his career ever since.
A native of Chicago, he graduated from Harvard. He has lived in Rome for the past ten years and was featured in stories examining Opus Dei with regard to the Da Vinci Code, but his day job is teaching literature. In his life before becoming a priest, he was editor of The Human Life Review, and was a speechwriter also for then Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania.

+    +    +

Q. John Allen Jr. [then of the National Catholic Reporter] once said of many reporters covering the Church, “This would be like sending me to cover football.”
What are the worst gaffes you have seen from journalists?
A. A particularly amusing case involved a very sophisticated, experienced reporter from one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world, who, in an article, wrote about “a crow’s ear,” when the object in question was a bishop’s “crosier.”
To me, what’s most significant about that isn’t the journalist’s unfamiliarity with a small point of ecclesiastical culture; it’s the fact that no one else at the paper — and we’re talking about highly cultured people — caught the error. No bells went off in the back of anyone’s mind.
I recall being taken aback, at one of our Church Up Close seminars, by the surprise of a journalist (an extremely well-educated religion journalist, as a matter of fact) when he realized that Catholics believe that the Church was founded by Jesus Christ Himself.
It’s a very basic and, perhaps for some, obvious point, and it really changes one’s entire approach to the Church and its affairs.
I think many reporters who have to write about the Church are well aware that they are not experts. That’s one of the reasons why our Church Up Close seminars have been so well received.
Q. What effect has Pope Francis had on news coverage?
A. Right now, one of the most compelling — and most popular — figures on the world stage is Pope Francis, the Successor of St. Peter. This may come as a surprise to many. A former Rome correspondent of The New York Times recently made this remarkable admission.
On my vague mental list of things that might someday come back into fashion, the papacy was never present. I used to cover it for the Times, from 2002 to 2004, and was convinced then that my beat wasn’t just a dying man — John Paul could barely walk and struggled to talk — but a dying institution, at least in the United States and much of Europe.
But the bevy of bulletins from Rome and the merry nature of so many of them suggest that people everywhere, even in the more Godless precincts of the Western world, can’t get enough of this new Pope and are committed to giving him the benefit of the doubt.
There’s no question that we are living through a fascinating moment in the life of the Church and its relationship with modern culture. And the best papers and journalists want to get up to speed.
Increasingly, I think, it’s becoming apparent that, as a news story, religion is not receding.
The Church is not fading away. I think that something that comes through very clearly for journalists who have spent some time in Rome is the truly “catholic” or universal character of the Church.
Going to an audience with the Pope and witnessing the enthusiasm of tens of thousands of people from every corner or the globe is always an eye-opening experience.
Obviously, one knows in theory that there are Catholics from very diverse cultures, but it’s another thing to hear, see, and touch in St. Peter’s Square in the presence of Peter’s Successor.
Q. What stories have been most affected by the lack of knowledgeable religion reporting?
A. I think that coverage of the sex abuse crisis, which was obviously an important story that merited intense coverage, was sometimes marred by many journalists’ unfamiliarity with the Church.
Certainly, the questions of canon law and ecclesiastical jurisdiction were challenging for even well-prepared journalists to cover.
The sheer size of the Church also presents a challenge for putting stories in perspective. For instance, the Church in the United States, where there are 78 million Catholics, is larger than the total population of any European country — except Germany and Russia.
It dwarfs the next largest Protestant denomination, to say nothing of the various Jewish and Islamic communities. Something similar could be said about the institutional longevity of the Church — the existence of a readily identifiable unbroken chain of authority, with the attendant burden of responsibility, over the course not just of decades but of centuries.
These are questions largely of perspective. Then there are issues of doctrine and morality, which often tend to be treated from a secular political point of view, as if they were merely questions of policy, when in reality they touch upon fundamental issues like the nature of the Church and Revelation.

A Crash Course

Q. What success have you seen in your work with journalists?
A. Our Church Up Close seminar offers journalists from around the globe a chance to get to know the Church in Rome personally. Another quite specific benefit that the journalists receive is contacts. While they’re participating in the seminar, they meet people — often otherwise hard to approach — who can help them with future articles and perhaps, in some cases, serve as sources.
The seminar in September, which we do every other year, is really an outgrowth of a monthly seminar that we do at the university in Italian for Rome-based Vaticanisti.
That monthly seminar was so successful that we decided we ought to offer it in English for journalists who have to cover the Catholic Church but don’t have the luxury of living in Rome. To facilitate things, we also compressed it into one week.
So, it’s basically a high-level crash course on the Catholic Church as seen from Rome. Along with specific contacts, the journalists get a better sense of who’s who and how things work at the Vatican, and I think that, for most of the participants, their historical and cultural perspective on the Church is broadened, both by the various speakers and by international group of journalists with whom they spend the week.
They learn a lot from each other.

+    +    +

(© 2014 Innovative Media Inc.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

S.F. Catholic Church priest bans girls as altar servers

A Catholic priest, new to San Francisco and no stranger to controversy, has banned girls from acting as altar servers at Mass, a decision that sets his parish apart from all others in the archdiocese. The Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor…Continue Reading

Notre Dame theologian known for books, liberal stands, dies

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The Rev. Richard McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian known for his unabashed liberal stands on various church teachings and his popular books on Catholicism, died Sunday in his native Connecticut, according to the…Continue Reading

Bankruptcy case brings financial fears for Catholic schools

As president of an inner-city Catholic grade school that depends critically on donations, Helen Dahlman admits to an unconventional fundraising strategy. “We believe in miracles, so we pray a lot,” said Dahlman, who leads Risen Christ School in south Minneapolis,…Continue Reading

Cardinal: No pro-life victory without reaching the marginalized

Washington D.C., Jan 22, 2015 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For the pro-life movement to truly succeed, it must fight not only abortion, but also the broader “throwaway culture” wherever life is being discarded, said Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston…Continue Reading

70 Churches Destroyed in ‘Anti-Charlie Hebdo’ Protests

The Christian community in Niger says it is in shock in the wake of weekend violence that has claimed the lives of 10 people and led to the destruction of dozens of places of worship and Christian homes. The protest,…Continue Reading

ITALY: Muslims smash, urinate on statue of Mary

A man was kneeling in prayer before the statue of the revered Madonna, with the photograph of a loved one in hand, in the small chapel of St. Barnabas in Perugia (Italy), when he was attacked by five “immigrants.” The…Continue Reading

At new in-flight press conference Francis says good Catholics are not required ‘to be like rabbits’

Catholics fail to practise “responsible parenthood” when they have too many children, Pope Francis has said during an in-flight press conference on the way home from Manila. He also denounced the teaching of “gender theory” in schools, likening it to…Continue Reading

CRUX’s “spirituality columnist” is “devastated” the Pope upholds Catholic teaching

Margery Eagan appears to be angling for a job as editor of National “Catholic” Reporter. Or perhaps spokesman for the LCWR: The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated. Goodness. Even…Continue Reading

St. Paul-Mpls. archdiocese declares bankruptcy in response to abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits. The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese…Continue Reading

Pope Francis strongly defends church teaching against contraception

Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia’s largest Catholic nation to urge families to be “sanctuaries of respect for life.” Francis also denounced the corruption that has plagued…Continue Reading

Bella Dodd, who rejected Communism in favour of faith, is a lesson for young jihadis

Her story shows how easily the best human impulses can be twisted to evil Having blogged last week about John Beaumont’s book, The Mississippi Flows Into The Tiber, with all the extraordinary, uplifting and grace-filled stories of conversion that it…Continue Reading

Fox News’ Bret Baier, actor Gary Sinise cancel on Catholic group after gay gripes

FOX News Channel’s chief political anchor, Bret Baier, has shown himself to have a thinner skin than might be guessed from his on-air persona.  Baier has caved in to pressure from the homosexual activist group ‘Good as You’ to back…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope: No To Ecclesial Elites Who Privatize The Faith

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis says ecclesial elites who form cliques and scorn others are privatizing the faith and not following the way of Jesus.  His words came during his homily at morning Mass on Thursday (29th January) celebrated in the Santa Marta residence. The Pope’s homily was a reflection on the need for Christians to follow Jesus in the way…Continue Reading

Pope tells Dads to spend time with their children

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching…Continue Reading

General Audience: Pope Focuses On Role Of Father In Family Life

pope7115

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a ‘father figure’ can have grave consequences. Speaking on Wednesday during the weekly General Audience, the Pope continued in his catechesis on the family, choosing to focus on the dignity and role of fathers. He said that teaching…Continue Reading

Pope’s Morning Homily: Obeying God’s Will is the Path to Holiness

Rome, January 27, 2015 (Zenit.org) Junno Arocho Esteves Obedience to the will of God is the path of holiness. This was the main theme of Pope Francis’ homily during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta. Today’s first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews explained that the sacrifices of old were not enough “for it is impossible that…Continue Reading

Complementarity As Hendiadys

By DONALD DeMARCO Hendiadys is a figure of speech in which two words are used to intensify the meaning of one thing. It is an ingenious form of cognitive amplification. As a Greek word, hendiadys means “one through two” (hen-dia-dys). Short and sweet are two words that, when in tandem, give added strength and clarity…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary . . . Pontmain Apparition, France, January 1871

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The Franco-Prussian War, which began in 1870, was the backdrop to this silent apparition of Our Lady at Pontmain in northwestern France. By January 1871, the country was in a very serious position militarily, with the Prussians controlling two-thirds of the country and Paris besieged. It seemed to be only a…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Should Catholic Hospitals Use The Morning-After Pill For Rape Victims?”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For a compact disc with more than 320 patient information pamphlets for all of the different types of abortifacients, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + Even with all of the different contraceptives and abortifacients…Continue Reading

Obama’s Tax On Stay-At-Home Moms

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY President Obama’s disrespect for motherhood has manifested itself in policies ranging from support for same-sex marriage to defense of a form of abortion that involves forcing a baby into a drug-induced premature delivery and then leaving that little one to die. When it comes to the most vulnerable and innocent human…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Dietrich Von Hildebrand’s Heroic Witness In Perilous Times

By STEPHANIE BLOCK My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich by Dietrich von Hildebrand. Translated and edited by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby, Image Books (2014); $28.00; 335 pages. My Battle Against Hitler, a posthumously published memoir and collection of essays by “20th century Doctor…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: From time to time, readers want to know how to respond to the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (“Scripture alone”). This is the notion that the Bible alone is the only authority on matters of faith and practice; if it’s not in the Bible, the theory goes, it isn’t true. This theory rejects Catholic belief in an infallible…Continue Reading

The Path To Joy And Fulfillment

By Fr. ROBERT ALTIER Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Job 7:1-4, 6-7 1 Cor. 9:16-19; 22-23 Mark 1:29-39 When I looked at the first reading today, I was tempted to check the source and make sure that this was really from 3,500 years ago and not from last week. We hear Job whining and complaining about his…Continue Reading

Pope’s Address At Meeting Of Families In Manila… Set Out On The Path The Lord Sets For Each Of You

MANILA (ZENIT) — Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s January 16 address at a Meeting With Families at the “Mall of Asia Arena” in Manila. In his text, Pope Francis praised the courage of Pope Paul VI in writing Humanae Vitae. ZENIT News Agency provided the text; all rights reserved. + + + The angel of the Lord…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World.. Papal Bloopers And Catholic Teaching

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Pope Francis continues to grab headlines, not only by setting a new record for drawing the largest crowd in history, but also by his question and answer sessions on the planes to and from his pastoral visits. On the plane to the Philippines, the Pope responded to questions about free speech and violent responses to…Continue Reading

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . The Faith Of The Early Christians

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 What did the Early Christians believe about the Catholic doctrine on the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus? Those men, women, and children who sacrificed everything for the true faith — even their very own lives? They were imprisoned, tortured, murdered. Some were burned alive, racked, beheaded. Others were crucified, flayed alive,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Mutien Marie Wiaux

By CAROLE BRESLIN A few decades ago, when Catholic schools taught religion from the Baltimore Catechism, one of the first questions children learned was, “Why did God make you?” The answer was, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” The Catechism…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Of Egypt, Abbot

By CAROLE BRESLIN While we can understand that God is infinite, it is difficult to comprehend the stretch of such infinity. Certainly our finite minds cannot begin to comprehend it. Hence, since our minds our finite, the more we have cluttering our minds with worldly affairs such as possessions, relationships, and activities, the less time and room we have in…Continue Reading