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The Church Up Close 

Covering Catholicism in the Age of Francis

2024 Edition

SPEAKERS

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Allen, John

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.

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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.

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Czerny, Michael

Cardinal Michael Czerny, S.J., Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, was born on 18 July in Brno, now the Czech Republic. He was ordained a priest on 9 June 1973, and was awarded a doctorate in human sciences, social thought and theology, an interdisciplinary study programme, from the University of Chicago in 1978. After transferring to El Salvador, from 1990 to 1991 he served as director of the Institute for Human Rights of the UCA and in 1991, he held the role of vice rector of the University. He also offered his contribution to the United Nations as mediator in the negotiations that led to the end of the civil war in El Salvador. For ten years, until 2002, he then served as secretary of the Secretariat for Social Justice at the General Curia of the Jesuits in Rome. From Central America Father Czerny then moved to Africa (2002-2010) where he taught at Hekima College, at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, collaborating with the Episcopal Conference of Kenya. In 2010 he was definitively recalled to Rome as consultant to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, chaired by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson.  In the consistory of 5 October 2019 he was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis. From 1st January 2022 to 23 April 2022, he has been the Prefect ad interim of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and on 23 April 2022 he was appointed by Pope Francis Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

D'Souza, Richard

Fr. Richard D’Souza SJ, originally hails from Goa, India. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1996, and finished his two years novitiate in Belgaum, India. This was followed by a year of study of the humanities in Pune. In 2002, he completed his graduation in Physics at St.Xaviers’ college in Mumbai and proceeded for his Masters in Physics to the University of Heidelberg, where he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy for his thesis work. He returned to Pune in 2005 to complete a Bachelors degree in Philosophy. In 2007, he founded and ran the St. Paul’s Community College in Belgaum to help school dropouts find gainful employment. After finishing his Bachelors in Theology in 2011 in Pune, he retuned to Goa and ran a popular theology programme for the laity called “Deepen Your Faith”. In 2012, he started his doctoral studies in Astronomy at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, in Garching, Munich, graduating in 2016. In 2016, he joined the staff of the Vatican Observatory. He completed a postdoctoral research program at the  University of Michigan from 2016 to 2019. In 2019, he transferred to the headquarters fo the Vatican Observatory in Rome. He currently serves as the Superior of the Jesuit community attached to the Specola Vaticana both at Castel Gandolfo and at Tucson, Arizona.

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Espinosa Hernández, Irma Patricia

Prof. Dir. Irma Patricia Espinosa Hernández is a mexican psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Her expertise focuses on Criminal Psychology and profiling and evaluation of victims of sexual abuse and sexual offenders. She qualified as a surgeon before specializing in Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, and also holds a Master’s Degree in Theology and a Doctorate in Philosophy. She is currently the Director of the Faculty of Psychology at UCLG, Coordinator of the Department of Human Development and Psychopedagogy of the UCLG, Coordinator of the Department of Human Development and Psychopedagogy of the Conciliar Seminary of Mexico. Professor Espinosa Hernández also holds the post of Secretary of the Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Region of Psychiatry and Spirituality of the Latin American Psychiatric Association (APAL) and is principal member of the Philosophy of Psychiatry section of the Mexican Psychiatric Association (APM). She is a member of the National Council for Children Protection of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Mexico and a Founding Member of the CEPROME, a centre for interdisciplinary research and training in the protection of minors based in Mexico City. In 2022, Pope Francis appointed her a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

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Estévez de Cominges, Benjamín

Dr. Benjamín Estévez de Cominges was born in Vigo, Spain, on 15 April 1974. He obtained a Master of Science in management from the Sloan School of Management of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America, and graduated in higher engineering from the Universidade de Vigo and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, both in Economía and then in Administración y Dirección de Empresas from the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain. He was director general for economic affairs of the Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Spain. Since 17 December 2021 he has served as delegate for the administration of the Dicastery for Evangelization in the Section for first evangelization and the new particular Churches. In February 2024, The Holy Father appointed him Secretary General of the Secretariat for the Economy.

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Fisichella, Rino

Born in Codogno, northern Italy, on August 25, 1951, Archbishop Rino Fisichella was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rome on March 13,1976 and became an auxiliary of the same diocese and Titular Bishop of Vicohabentia in 1988. In 1994, he was appointed a Chaplain of his holiness. He was then appointed archbishop in 2008 after taking charge of the Academy for Life. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and in 2013 he was appointed president of the International Council for Catechesis. He taught fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Lateran University, where he also served as Rector. In 2022 he was appointed Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization. 

Archbishop Fisichella is also a member of the Vatican congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for the Causes of Saints.

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Gagliarducci, Andrea

Prof. Andrea Gagliarducci is currently Vatican Analyst at the Catholic News Agency and I am vaticanologist at ACI Stampa. He also writes with the National Catholic Register, where he also runs a blog. Previously, he was one of the “vaticanisti” of the Italian web site www.korazym.org, specialized in religious information, and wrote as a freelancer for two Italian newspapers, La Sicilia and Il Tempo. He is the author of several books: La Musica dell’altro (Pazzini Editore), Propaganda Fide R.E. (Il Saggiatore), Giovanni Paolo II. Storia di un annuncio (Libreria Editrice Vaticana), La Quaresima della Chiesa (Tau Edizioni), co-authored with Marco Mancini; Chiara Lubich, L'amore vince tutto (Città Nuova); Cristo Speranza dell'Europa (Città Nuova); Linguaggi Pontifici (Editoriale Romani), co-authored with mons. Stefano Sanchirico. His specialties are: Vatican, History, Science of Education, Semiotics, Philosophy and Religion.

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Gisotti, Alessandro

Alessandro Gisotti is a professional journalist. He's the deputy editorial director of the Holy See's Dicastery for Communication. He was interim director of the Holy See Press Office in 2019 and previously social media coordinator of Vatican News. He has served the Holy See since the year 2000 after an internship at the United Nations information centre in Rome. For 16 years he worked as vaticanist at Vatican Radio's International News Programme, where he was deputy editor-in-chief. He has taught Theory and Techniques of Journalism, as lecturer, at the Pontificial Lateran University. He has published essays and volumes including The Decalogue of the Good Communicator according to Pope Francis, with a preface by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (Elledici, 2016).

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Gregory, John Luke

Father John Luke Gregory ofm was born in 1958 in Sheffield, England. Before starting University he took an Applied Social Science course at the London Polytechnic. In 1980 he graduated in Philosophy and Theology from Kings College London, simultaneously being awarded a diploma in Classical Studies.
In 1990 he entered the Order of Friars Minor as a postulant in Rome, and completed his novitiate in Jerusalem, in the church of St. John the Baptist and for a time lived in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. He was a seminarian for four years in the monastery of St. Saviour in Jerusalem, graduating with a degree in Sacred Theology from the Studium Biblicum in Jerusalem, a branch of the Pontifical Antonianum in Rome. In 1998 he was ordained a priest and after 6 months he was made Knight of the Holy Sepulchre where for several years he had been Cantor. The ceremony took place in St. George’s Cathedral in London.
From 1998 to 2004 he worked in the Secretariat of the Custody of the Holy Land, using his knowledge of English, Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic.
In 2004 he was appointed to Rhodes as Guardian and Parish Priest by the Custos of the Holy Land. He was named Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Rhodes by the Archbishop of Athens. In 2021 he was named Net of the Order of Friars Minor for the care of Refugees and Migrants by the Minister General to the Commission of the Franciscan Mediterranean; in the same year he was also named Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy by the Italian Republic. He speaks English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Arabic, Taglog and is currently Translator for the Custody of the Holy Land and the Curia General of the Order of Friars Minor.

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Lev, Elizabeth

Dr. 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, Aleteia, 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.

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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.

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Monda, Andrea

Prof. Andrea Monda, writer and essayist, currently lives in Rome. After graduating in Law at Sapienza University and in Religious Sciences at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he started working as a religion teacher and collaborating with important newspapers since 1988, including “Avvenire”, “Il Foglio”, and writing reviews for “La Civiltà Cattolica”. Since 2006 he has been giving a seminar on Religion and Literature at the Pontifical Lateran University, which he also held at the Pontifical Gregorian University from 2008 to 2011. He is the author of literary essays and of a biographical essay on Benedict XVI, published in 2013, and was appointed director of the “L’ Osservatore Romano” by Pope Francis in 2018. He is also the President of the BombaCarta Association,which organizes workshops and cultural events.

Noronha, John and Ashley

As speakers, media personalities, theologians, and pontifical university professors, John & Ashley share a passion for the renewal of faith and culture. In 2017, the Noronhas founded the 501(c)(3) non-profit, the Truth & Beauty Project and create unique faith-Immersions in Rome, curating encounters with knowledge and beauty to explore what it means to embrace courageous Christian living and make your life a masterpiece. TBP offers a scholarship program to allow young adults from around the world to participate and set their faith on fire. Since 2012, Ashley has been the weekly Rome Correspondent for the Relevant Radio Network and was formerly the host of the weekly Television news show, Voice of the Vatican. She was a Vatican 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 taught "The Art of Leadership & Communication" at the European University in Rome. In 2010, Ashley created a course called "Media Training for Priests" and since has been teaching it at the NAC, as well as for ICTE sabbatical priests, and to priests and seminarians all over the world. She serves as a Communications Coach specializing in Conflict Resolution, Crisis Communications, Public Speaking, and Media Training. Before she did a Masters in Theology and an STL in Communications, Ashley was an executive in lifestyle marketing for Kraft Foods, Discover Card, JCPenney, 3Com and Universal Pictures. John is a Professor of Art & Architecture, Theology, and Technology. 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 and is a Wilbur Fellow at the Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. John was also a professional tap dancer! 

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Nwachukwu, Fortunatus

Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu was born in 1960 in Nigeria. in 1984 he obtained the Baccalaureate in Theology summa cum laude and received priestly ordination in 1984 by the imposition of the hands of Anthony Gogo Nwedo, Bishop of Umuahia. In 1990 he gained a licentiate degree and completed the lectio for the doctorate in sacred scriptures at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Between 1991 and 1992 he did specialisation studies in textual criticism of the Old Testament at the Jesuit Faculty, Sankt Georgen, Frankfurt, Germany. He was a student of the Pontifical Diplomatic Academy in 1992-1994. In 1994 he gained a doctorate in Theology and entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See. Two years later, he gained a doctorate in Canon Law at the Pontifical University of San Tommaso d'Aquino Angelicum. After working in Rome in the second section of the Secretariat of State, and serving for five years as the Head of Protocols, he was consecrated Bishop in 2013 by Pope Benedict XVI. After serving as apostolic nuncio in Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago and the Antilles (2012-2021), in 2021 Pope Francis appointed him Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva and to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Representative of the Holy See to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). In 2023 Pope Francis appointed him Secretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization, Section for the First Evangelization and New Particular Churches. He speaks several languages including English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, modern Hebrew, as well as Arabic

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Regoli, Roberto

Roberto Regoli H.E.D., H.E.L., Ph.B.A., S.T.B.A. (Gregoriana, Rome), is a full professor of contemporary Church history at the Pontifical Gregorian University (Rome), head of the Department of Church History, as well as editor of Archivum Historiae Pontificiae. His areas of research include the history of the Papacy, the Roman Curia, and pontifical diplomacy from the 19th to the 21st centuries. He is a member of various scientific committees and organizations, including the Advisory Committee of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism of the University of Notre Dame (Rome branch), the Scientific Committee of the Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary for the organization of historical conferences, the Centro Studi di Cultura Cristiana of the Giorgio La Pira International Center of Florence, the Prize of the Ambassadors to the Holy See and the scientific boards of the journals Analecta Augustiniana, Verba Theologica and Acta facultatis theologicae Universitatis Comenianae Bratislaviensis. He founded and coordinates the "Pontificia" section of the "Cultura" series of the Studium Editions.

O'Callaghan, Paul

Fr. Paul O’Callaghan studied electronic engineering at University College, Dublin (1977-79) and was ordained a priest in 1982. He is currently Professor of Theological Anthropology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, where he was also Academic Vice-Rector (1998-2000), Dean of Theology (2000-2008) and Director of the Centre for Priestly Formation (2017-2020). He was also member of the Governing Board of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. At present he is Procurator of the Prelature of Opus Dei. Among recent publications: Faith Challenges Culture. A Reflection on the Dynamics of Modernity, Rowman & Littlefield 2021 and God’s Gift of the Universe. An Introduction to Creation Theology, Catholic University of America Press 2022.

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Sánchez Galera, María Dolores

Prof. Maria Dolores Sanchez Galera was born in Spain and gained a Bachelor of Laws in 2001 in Public Comparative Law by Glasgow University, where she was a Post-graduate researcher in Comparative Law. She got a European Master’s degree on the history and comparison of the political and legal institutions of Mediterranean Europe; and a PhD in Environmental Law at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, being a research fellow at a European RTN until 2006. As a former Legal Officer of the International Development Law Organization was in charge of the World Bank legal training programs in Access to Justice in Post-conflict areas and was researcher for The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law. She has Lectured on European Law and Environmental Law and currently collaborates as a freelance researcher for different charity foundations and organizations; and she was international cooperation officer for Caritas Catania.

With over 10 years experience in applied research in the field of Environmental Law, EU Law, Development and Innovation Programmes related to the field of Sustainability, Energy, Environment and Education and Culture, he is currently collaborating as Senior Research Advisor for the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

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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.

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Wachowski , Mirosław Stanisław

The Reverend Msgr. Mirosław Stanisław Wachowski was born in Pisz, Poland on 8 May 1970. He was ordained a priest on 15 June 1996 and incardinated in Ełk, Poland. He holds a degree in canon law and entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1 July 2004, He has served in the Pontifical Representations in Senegal, at the International Organizations in Vienna, in Poland, and at the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, of which in 2019 His Holiness appointed him as under-secretary. He knows Italian, English, French and Russian.

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Wang, Stephen

Fr Stephen Wang is a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Westminster. He is currently Rector of the Venerable English College in Rome – one of the five seminaries serving the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Since his priestly ordination in 1998 he has worked in pastoral ministry in various London parishes, schools, hospitals and prisons. He has been Dean of Theology at Allen Hall Seminary, Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy at St Mary's University and Visiting Lecturer in Theology at Heythrop College. Most recently he worked as Senior University Chaplain at Newman House Student Centre and as Catholic Chaplain at the London School of Economics. He is the author of Aquinas and Sartre, A Way of Life for Young Catholics , How to Discover Your Vocation, The New Evangelisation, and The Christian Faith. His most recent book is Sycamore: The Catholic Faith Explained. He is involved in various evangelisation projects including the Sycamore programme and the Pause for Faith YouTube channel.

Wauck, John

Organizing Committee President, Rev. Prof. John Wauck (USA), a Chicago native, studied history and literature at Harvard University and holds a doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. Prior to ordination, he wrote speeches for the attorney general of the United States and the governor of Pennsylvania. He has written for many publications, including American Scholar, Christian Science Monitor, The New Criterion, Beliefnet, and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly. He has also commented on Church affairs for CNN, BBC, ABC, CBS, Associated Press TV, Reuters, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Time magazine, and U.S. News and World Report. Currently he teaches Literature and Communication of the Faith at Santa Croce.

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