The Church Up Close

Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis



Baggio, Fabio

Fr. Fabio Baggio, C.S., is a missionary priest of the Scalabrian Order. He has spent eight years in missionary work in Latin America, serving as a consultant on migration with the Chilean Bishops Conference and later as Director of the Buenos Aires Archdiocese’s Department of Migration. He also spent eight years in the Philippines. He holds a License in Church History from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and has taught at several European, Latin American and Asian universities. He directed the Scalabrini Migration Center in Quezon City, Philippines and was responsible for the Asian and Pacific Migration Journal (2002-2010). Since January 2017, he has served as Co-Under-Secretary of the Migrants & Refugees Section of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and since January 2022, sole undersecretary.



de Solenni, Pia

Pia de Solenni, SThD, is a theologian, ethicist, and cultural analyst. She recently served as Chancellor of the Diocese of Orange, California, and Theological Advisor to the Bishop. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Washington Post, National Catholic Reporter, Our Sunday Visitor, and National Review Online. She is also a consultant member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as the President and Executive Director of the Global Institute of Church Management


Di Giovanni, Francesca 

Francesca Di Giovanni is an Italian lawyer from Palermo, Sicily. After studying law, she worked in the administration for the International Focolare Movement. In 1993, she joined the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, where she worked in the field of multilateral relations. Then on 15 January 2020, Pope Francis appointed her an Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs in the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, a position normally reserved for a member of the clergy. She is the first woman and the first lay person to hold a managerial position in the Secretariat of State. Her responsibilities include the Holy See's interests in intergovernmental organizations and international treaties.

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Gosbert, Gilbert

Rev. Fr. Gilbert Ndyamukama Gosbert is an official of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which is a congregation of the Roman Curia responsible for missionary work and related activities. He is from Tanzania. From 2004 to 2009 he studied Moral Theology at the University of the Holy Cross. Later he also obtained his doctorate and, after a period of work in his Diocese (Kayanga, Tanzania) in September 2015 he returned to Rome to work for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.


Grech, Mario

Cardinal Mario Grech, from Malta, was ordained a priest in 1984. He then studied civil and canon law in Rome. In 1988 he returned to Malta, where he taught in the seminary, as well as working in the ecclesiastical tribunal. At the same time he was also appointed judge at the metropolitan tribunal of Malta. Pope Benedict XVI appointed Grech bishop of Gozo, Malta, with his decree Redemptorem nostrum in 2005. In October 2019, Pope Francis appointed Grech as the Pro-Secretary General for the Synod of Bishops and Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Gozo. He was a member of the Amazon Synod in 2019. In September 2020, Pope Francis appointed him as Secretary General for the Synod of Bishops. He was created Cardinal on the Consistory of November 28th, 2020.


Guerrero Alves, Juan Antonio

Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, S.J. is from Mérida, Spain. After beginning college to study economics following the career path of his father, a businessman, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in 1979, and was ordained a priest in 1992. He went on to earn degrees in economics and philosophy of letters, theology and political philosophy. His academic publications include many articles in social and political philosophy as well as on Ignatian spirituality. He has served in many posts within the Society of Jesus. Beginning in 2017 he served as delegate of the superior general in Rome for interprovincial homes and works and as general counsellor of the Society, where he had administrative and budgeting responsibilities for a number of institutions including the Pontifical Gregorian University and Biblical Institute, the Vatican Observatory, and Vatican Radio. In November 2019, Pope Francis named him prefect of the Secretariate for the Economy, effective 1 January 2020.


Kankanamalage, Indunil

Monsignor Indunil Kankanamalage is originally from Sri Lanka. Ordained a priest in 2000, he was then sent to Rome, where he obtained a doctorate in missiology from the Pontifical Urban University. He then served as a professor of the Faculty of Missiology in the same university. In 2012 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which position he held until being appointed Secretary of the Council in 2019.


Lev, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Lev is an American art historian with degrees from University of Chicago and University of Bologna. For over twenty years she has been living and working as a guide in Rome. She is on the faculty of Duquesne University’s Italian campus, and has also taught courses for John Cabot University, and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. Her articles have been published widely in such magazines as First Things, Alateia, and Inside the Vatican. She has also written several books, including A Body for Glory: Theology of the Body in the Papal Collections, with Fr. Jose Granados. She is a certified sommelier.


Mamberti, Dominique

Cardinal Mamberti was born in Marrakech, Morocco, to French parents who returned to their homeland shortly after his birth. He studied public law and political science. After entering the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome, he was ordained a priest in 1981 for the Diocese of Ajaccio, Corsica.  He earned a degree in canon law and began studying at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.  He entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1986, and has served in papal representations to several countries. He received his episcopal ordination in 2002, having been appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Sudan, titular Archbishop of Sagona and Apostolic Delegate in Somalia. In 2006, he was appointed secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State by Pope Benedict XVI and served until mid-January 2015.  As secretary he led many Holy See delegations at international meetings and conferences, especially at the General Assembly of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. In November 2014, Pope Francis appointed him prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature.

McCulloch, Robert

Fr. Robert McCulloch SSC, an Australian priest, is Procurator General of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, and also Procurator-General of the Mission Society of the Philippines. He is a consultor to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, and chairman of the committee established by the Pakistan Episcopal Conference for the translation of official church documents into Urdu. He has a doctorate in Sacred Liturgy from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome and taught for twenty-seven years at the National Catholic Institute of Theology, Karachi, Pakistan. Since 1978 he has worked to increase the education and basic health care of the poor and mainly non-Christian people of Pakistan. In 2012, he was decorated by the Government of Pakistan for his services.

Navarro, Luis

Rev. Prof. Luis Navarro was installed as the Rector of Santa Croce on September 30, 2016. Ordained as an Opus Dei priest in 1979, he has been a professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross since 1986. For the past 8 years he also served as Dean of the Canon Law Department. He is from Spain. 


Noronha, John and Ashley
Having lived in Rome 14 years, John and Ashley Noronha are passionate about bringing the Eternal City to life through its art, beauty, history and culture. They founded the Truth & Beauty Project, a residency fellowship in Rome dedicated to shaping the culture by shaping the arts, one artist at a time. Ashley's 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. John's the former Producer of Voice of the Vatican on Shalom World TV and a Professor of Art & Architecture and Theology. He has a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering and Master’s degrees in Computer Engineering and Information Systems. John worked for many years in the telecommunications industry and lead the Technology and Initiatives Group at Verizon Global Telecommunications. He later did Master’s degrees in Philosophy and Theology. John is a Wilbur Fellow and is pursuing a PhD in BioMedical Ethics at the Regina Apostolorum. Formerly a professional tap dancer, John loves to cut a rug with his wife and to teach ballroom dancing too. 

O'Callaghan, Paul

An Electronics Engineer and former Teaching Assistant of Electronics Engineering at University College Dublin (1977-79), Fr. O’Callaghan (Ireland) is currently Professor of Theological Anthropology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. He taught theology at the School of Theology of the University of Navarra, was Director of Studies at the International Ecclesiastical College ‘Bidasoa' in Pamplona, Spain (1989-1990), Vice-rector of 'Sedes Sapientiae' International Ecclesiastical College, Rome (1991-1995), Academic Vice-Rector of the Pontifical University of Santa Croce (1998-2000), former Dean of Theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (2000-2008), and member of the Governing Board of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. At present he is Spiritual Director of “Sedes Sapientiae” College, Director of the Department of Dogmatic Theology and Director of the Center for Priestly Formation at Santa Croce.

Regoli, Roberto

Rev. Fr. Roberto Regoli is professor of Contemporary Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome), and director of the Department of Church History, as well as director of the Review “Archivum Historiae Pontificiae”. Areas of particular research  include the history of the Papacy, the Roman Curia and pontifical Diplomacy during XIX-XXI centuries. Among his more important publications are the works: Ercole Consalvi. Le scelte per la Chiesa (Ed. PUG 2006); Oltre la crisi della Chiesa. Il pontificato di Benedetto XVI (Lindau 2016) and with Paolo Valvo of Tra Pio X e Benedetto XV. La diplomazia pontificia in Europa e America Latina nel 1914 (Studium 2018). 


Ruffini, Paolo

Paolo Ruffini was appointed Prefect of the Dicastery of Communications in 2019. He is the first layperson to head a Vatican department. From Palermo, Sicily, Ruffini graduated in Law from La Sapienza university in Rome, but then turned to journalism. He has been a professional journalist since 1979. Besides working for several Italian newspapers, including Rome’s Il Messaggero, he is also experienced in Radio and Television. He has received several prizes in journalism and has participated in numerous study conferences on such topics as the role of Christians in information, the ethics of communication and new media.  In 2014, he became network director for the media of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. As Prefect of the Dicastery of Communications, he directs all the various media of the Holy See that were brought under this dicastery by Pope Francis in 2015, to include, among other things, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television Center, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Press Office of the Holy See and the Vatican Internet Service.


Shovlain, Mary
Mary Shovlain, originally from Florida, USA, has been living in Rome and covering the Vatican since 1998.  She began at Vatican Radio and eventually made her way to television in 2003 when she went to work for EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network).  Inspired by the mission of EWTN, Mary came back to Rome and founded Lucem Communications to make quality programming for various Catholic media outlets.  Mary has also collaborated on programs that have aired on: National Geographic, History Channel Canada, PBS (Public Broadcasting Station), Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) and RTE (Ireland) and continues to provide live commentary of papal events for Vatican Radio. She received the Lumen Gentium Award from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2007 for her extensive work in Church communications and obtained a Licentiate in Moral Theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in 2004. Her articles have appeared in Our Sunday Visitor, the Irish Catholic and Zenit.


Smerilli, Alessandra

Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, F.M.A, is an Italian economist, academic, and Catholic religious sister of the congregation of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, which she entered in 1997. She holds Phds in political economy and in economics. Pope Francis appointed her as a councilor of the Vatican City State in 2019, and soon after that also appointed her consultant to the general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. Sister Alessandra has been the Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development since March 2021, and in April 2022 she became the Secretary for the Dicastery. She coordinates the Economic Taskforce of the Vatican Commission on Covid-19, and is a member of the Women for a New Renaissance, a task force set up by the Minister for Equal Opportunities and the family of the Italian politician Elena Bonetti. She has been awarded the Order of the Star of Italy for her "academic achievements and commitment to the ethical principles in business and finance".


Tagle, Luis Antonio

Cardinal Louis Antonio Gokim Tagle is Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical University Urbaniana, and Metropolitan Archbishop emeritus of Manila, the Philippines. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1982. In 1985 he was sent to the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. to study systematic theology. He earned a licence in sacred theology in 1987 and a doctorate with summa cum laude in 1991. He joined the editorial committee of the Institute for Religious Sciences of Bologna, involved in drafting the history of the Second Vatican Council. In 1997 he was appointed member of the International Theological Commission and in 1998 took part as an expert in the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops. In 2001 he was ordained to the episcopacy and appointed Bishop of Imus, the Philippines. He was appointed as Archbishop of Manila in 2011, by Pope Benedict XVI, who in 2012 elevated him to the rank of Cardinal. He participated in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis. In 2019, Pope Francis named him Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Cardinal Tagle serves as the president of Caritas Internationalis, a federation of Catholic social service organizations. 

Vinciguerra, Tebaldo

Mr. Tebaldo Vinciguerra, Italian-French, the father of a family, has his degree in political science. From 2011 to 2016, at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, he was responsible for issues of ecology and development, analyzing many challenges of our times in the light of the social doctrine of the Church. He continues his work in the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, established by Pope Francis in 2017.


Trott, Christopher

Christopher Trott was appointed as the British Ambassador to the Holy See in September 2021. He has been a British diplomat since 1991, and has worked in Burma, Japan, Afghanistan, the South Pacific and both West and Southern Africa. In 2007 he was appointed as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Senegal, accredited also to Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde and Mali. In 2011 he was appointed as Consul General in Cape Town, South Africa, followed by a short stint in Honiara as High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Nauru. His most recent roles have focussed on the Sudans, first as the Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan from August 2016 until March 2019, and then as British Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan from May 2019 until the end of 2020. Among various roles in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in London, he worked as Deputy Head of the Human Rights department and as Deputy in a then newly formed unit in the Department for International Development designed to address stabilisation post-conflict. He is married with 2 children and is a Freeman of the Commune of Timbuktu.


Wang, Stephen

Msgr. Stephen Wang is a priest of the Diocese of Westminster. He was born in London and grew up in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Having spent his years of priestly formation from 1992 to 1997 at the Venerable English College, he has recently returned as Rector. He obtained his Ph.D. in philosophy from Cambridge University in 2005, with a thesis on human happiness. From 2005 to 2013 he taught philosophy and theology at Allen Hall Seminary, and from 2008 was also Dean of Studies. From 2013 until the present he served as Senior University Chaplain in the Diocese of Westminster, as well as being Vocations Director for the last two years.