Whenever I have attended work-related educational seminars in the past, I’ve always been blessed with the added bonus of meeting others with diverse backgrounds. The Church Up Close: Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI, held Sept. 8-14 at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross School of Church Communications in Rome, provided not only a cross section of personalities, but cultures as well.
The professional journalists who attended the seminar with me traveled to Rome from six of the world’s seven continents. They represented secular and religious news organizations and ranged in age and experience by many decades.
As we collectively roamed the ancient city in search of Catholic history and absorbed theology being taught by scholars in the university’s classrooms, we discovered differences and similarities in how we do our jobs, live our lives and view our faith.
Some of the journalists aggressively pressed Vatican officials for answers about what was learned from the recent sexual-abuse crisis of the Catholic Church, while others wanted concrete explanations about church positions on abortion, homosexuality and contraception.
Individual techniques also ranged. Some took a more subtle approach in getting their sources to talk, while others employed a more abrasive manner. When it came down to it, we were all looking for the same thing.
During our seven days together, we learned many things about one anothers culture, political ideology, religious traditions, levels of curiosity, and places of business.
But, like the millions of faithful in the thousands of Catholic parishes all over the globe, we journalists were all searching for the same thing — the truth.