VATICAN CITY — Several months ago I asked my bosses at Catholic News Service if I could take a seminar offered by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross School of Church Communications in Rome, and to my surprise and delight, they said yes.
The seminar — The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI – is being offered to professional journalists Sept. 8-14 and I am now a majority of the way through my classes here in Rome.
My objective was twofold: Learn more about the universal church in an effort to become more knowledgable about what I cover as a journalist in the Catholic press, and see the sights of Italy.
What I had envisioned was that I would take classes during the day and explore the city in the evening and see the country when the seminar was concluded.
However, what has ended up happening is the seminar has offered me a view of Rome through the eyes of the Catholic Church.
So much of the universal church has been shaped in this beautiful city that has successfully married its art and architecture with theology, philosophy and political ideology.
As I am reminded throughout this experience, the Vatican doesn’t do retro, with its buildings or its philosophy. It adds on to its foundation and continues to grow.
Organizers of this seminar have modeled their classes and field trips with that same vision.
As one guide told us on one of our many tours, the location of each building is as important as the architecture and the content stored inside of the structure. This has been a recurring theme throughout this introduction to the church and to Rome itself.
When the seminar began on Sept. 8 I thought it was shaping up to be a learning experience where I could expand my working knowledge of the Catholic Church as both a journalist and a cradle Catholic.
I’ve discovered it is so much more.
In the coming days I will attempt to detail some of my experiences and I hope you will stay tuned. With time and access to the internet limited, there will be no set schedule for these musings to post, so I would suggest those interested to just keep watching.
To be continued ….