The Church Up Close
Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis
John L. Allen Jr. is the editor of Crux, specializing in coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church. He has written eleven books on the Vatican and Catholic affairs, and also is a popular speaker on Catholicism both in the United States and internationally. Among John’s books are “Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church”, and two about Pope Benedict XVI. The first was written before Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became pope; the other came after Benedict’s election to the papacy and was the first biography of the Pope in English. His weekly column, “All Things Catholic,” is widely read as a source of insight on the global Church.
Originally from South Africa, Seàn-Patrick Lovett was the head of the English-language Section of Vatican Radio for 43 years, from 1978 to 2020. During this time he worked with five popes: Pope St. Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis. He continues to teach Communication and Media Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, as well as serving as the Vice President of the Centre for Research and Communication, and providing free-lance media consulting worldwide.
Ashley Noronha is the Rome Correspondent for the Relevant Radio Network and formerly the host of the weekly news show, Voice of the Vatican, on Shalom World TV. She was formerly the Vatican's English Language Official at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and has been featured on various global TV news networks as an expert on Vatican issues. She's an Instructor of Media Training at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and teaches her original course "Media Training for Priests" at the Pontifical North American College (NAC). She works around the world as a Communications Coach specializing in Conflict Management, Crisis Communications, Public Speaking and Media Training. Together with her husband John, Ashely is passionate about bringing the Eternal City to life through its art, beauty, history and culture. The couple founded the Truth & Beauty Project, a residency fellowship in Rome dedicated to shaping the culture by shaping the arts, one artist at a time.
George Cardinal PELL
Australian cardinal George Pell was offered a professional football contract in his youth but decided to study for the priesthood instead. He was ordained in 1966. In 1987 he was made a bishop, and then in 2001, Archbishop of Sydney. He was made a cardinal in 2003 by Pope John Paul II and participated in the conclaves that elected Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. In 2014 Pope Francis appointed him prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in the Vatican. In 2018, he chose to return to Australia to face charges of historical child sexual assault, defending his innocence. After a secret trial from which the press was excluded, he was convicted of a crime he did not commit. This conviction was overturned after he had served 13 months in solitary confinement. In his recently published book Prison Journal, Volume 1, the cardinal speaks of his time in prison as time of retreat and prayer, freely forgiving the injustice done him.
Nicole Winfield is the Vatican correspondent for The Associated Press in Rome. She has covered three popes – John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis – travelling with them around the world and reporting on everything from the priestly sex abuse scandal to the church’s relations with Jews to Francis’ revolutionary papacy.
Winfield joined the AP in 1992 in New York and reported from Miami and the United Nations before being sent to Rome in 2001. While based in Rome, Winfield has covered many hot-spots, including the conflicts in Afghanistan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and the Gulf, and she even lent a hand at the 2012 London Olympics. A native of New York City and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she is married to Vernon Silver, a senior reporter at Bloomberg News, and is mom to their three young children.