Someone new on the religion beat.
A veteran journalist heading off to cover a story at the Vatican.
A brand new diocesan director of communications.
These and others are among the many callers who contact the Office of Media
Relations of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Some ques-
tions are frequent:
• What’s the Vatican phone number? (It’s 011-39-06-6982.)
• How does a coadjutor bishop differ from an auxiliary bishop? (The former
has the right of succession, for one thing.)
• Do you need to be divorced to get an annulment? (Yes.)
These people and such questions led us to commission this resource,
to Cover the Catholic Church
. It’s for journalists—to make their work easier;
it’s for the church—to facilitate better coverage; it’s for anyone who wants to
know a little more of the inner workings of the Catholic Church.
The principal writer was Jerry Filteau, a veteran journalist who spent
35 years covering the church for Catholic News Service. With experience in
Rome and in Washington, Jerry has covered papal travels to five continents,
more than 40 national meetings of the U.S. bishops, the deaths and elections
of popes from Pope Paul VI onwards, and everything in between. He knows
the complicated and makes the complicated known to whoever can read a
newspaper. With Jerry on this project, we knew we were in good hands.
Assisting him was Benedicta Cipolla, a young writer and quick study who
worked in Rome from 1995 to 2001. She spent more than two years at the
Catholic News Service Rome Bureau and Vatican Radio, the incredible station
which reaches around the world. A little bit of Rome experience goes a long
way, for, indeed, all roads do lead to Rome and anyone who ever has worked
there comes away a different, and often deeper, person.
Many people assisted in this work. The CNS Rome Bureau proofed the
Vatican section; Jerry regularly called on staff at the USCCB to verify informa-
tion on the bishops’ conference and spoke with canon lawyers about some
of the entries involving issues of church law. Meanwhile, USCCB Publishing