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How to Cover the Catholic Church

your language, you’ll find links to information on popes, curial departments

and other offices, liturgical celebrations, news services and more.

Most curial offices generally are open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday

through Saturday. On Tuesdays and Fridays they reopen from about 5 to 7

p.m. If you can’t locate a direct telephone number, dial 06-6982—yes, a six-

digit number—for the main Vatican switchboard, which will direct your call.

Note: For simplicity, this phone number and others given in the rest of this

chapter are just the local numbers, without the country prefix, 39, required for

calling from outside Italy. From the United States, the full prefix for direct-dial

long-distance access to the Vatican is 011-39.

More details about every Curia department can be found in the



, or Vatican yearbook, published annually and available at the Vatican

bookstore and other shops around St. Peter’s. This little red book—it’s almost

2,500 pages, but only seven inches tall and five inches wide—includes demo-

graphic and contact information on church jurisdictions worldwide, short

biographical information on every bishop, a list of past popes, and informa-

tion on the current pope, the College of Cardinals, religious orders, Catholic

schools and cultural institutions, papal diplomats, and the diplomatic corps

to the Holy See. It’s an invaluable resource for someone who regularly needs

this type of information and must contact a wide variety of church officials,

but probably unnecessary for someone who covers the Vatican only occasion-


For anyone first learning to use the


, Catholic News Service’s

CNS Stylebook on Religion

has a helpful appendix on how to use it, includ-

ing English meanings of the Italian abbreviations and English translations of

departmental names, religious titles and job descriptions.

Secretariat of State

This is the most important curial department, and the secretary of state is con-

sidered the most important position at the Vatican after the pope. The secre-

tariat is responsible for dealing with the Roman Curia as well as overseeing the

Vatican’s diplomatic and political activity. Its Section for General Affairs oversees

internal church matters, including curial appointments; administers Vatican

communication agencies; handles all Vatican documents; and acts as a liaison

to embassies accredited to the Holy See. The Section for Relations with States is

responsible for the Holy See’s diplomatic relations with other countries.

The secretary of state is Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The secretary for rela-

tions with states (foreign minister) is Archbishop Paul Gallagher. The under-

secretary for relations with states is Msgr. Antoine Camilleri. For the secretary