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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