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May 4, 2005


Commenting on the Papal Transition

Father O'Connell being interviewed in Nugent Hall by a local TV reporter.
Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., president, and many other Catholic University faculty members were a near-constant presence in the media in late March and during the first half of April, as CUA experts provided commentary about Pope John Paul II, his funeral, the conclave, Pope Benedict XVI and many related issues to media outlets around the world. All four local Washington, D.C., television stations and several national broadcast outlets were regular visitors to campus in the days following Pope John Paul II’s death, as the news media spoke with students, covered the university’s Mass and candlelight vigil held to memorialize the pontiff, and interviewed experts. To follow is an overview of interviews by university administrators and faculty related to the papal transition.

Father O’Connell was a regular presence at CNN for three weeks, appearing frequently on news anchor Wolf Blitzer’s programs in addition to being a guest on other CNN programs to discuss various aspects of the papal transition including the legacy of Pope John Paul II, the conclave to elect a new pope, and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Father O’Connell was a panelist three times on Nightline (ABC) and twice on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer (PBS). He also was a guest on the Charlie Rose Show (PBS-TV) and the Diane Rehm Show (WAMU-FM). He provided interviews to local television stations WTTG-TV, WRC-TV and WUSA-TV, the local radio station WTOP-AM and National Public Radio. The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine and Religion News Service also interviewed Father O’Connell.

Helen Alvaré, associate professor of law, was on contract with ABC News and was a frequent commentator about the papal transition for the network’s news programs, including “Good Morning America” and “ABC News Now.” She also did several print interviews with the Associated Press, Catholic News Service, the Fort Worth Star Telegram (Texas), the Baltimore Sun, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and Cox News Service. Media outlets around the country also ran stories mentioning Alvare’s inclusion as a member of the White House delegation to Rome for the installation Mass of Pope Benedict XVI.

Joseph Capizzi, associate professor, theology and religious studies, did a live interview with the WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.) morning show to discuss the legacy of Pope John Paul II.

Peter Casarella, associate professor, theology and religious studies, had a lengthy commentary about the outcome of the conclave posted to the Web site for the PBS program “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.” He also did interviews on Fox News Channel, CNN and WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.). He was interviewed by the Baltimore Sun for a story about Pope John Paul II’s suffering.

Jude Dougherty, dean emeritus, philosophy, discussed the legacy of Pope John Paul II and the papal transition during several appearances on CNN, including two on the “Larry King Live” program. He also appeared on Fox News Channel, BBC World television, WJLA-TV and was interviewed by the Sunday Bulletin (Norwich, Conn.), the Washington (D.C.) Blade, Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, Voice of America radio, the Washington Post, Newhouse News Service, Scripps Howard News Service and the Fresno (Calif.) Bee.

Monsignor Brian Ferme, dean of the School of Canon Law, was on contract with CBS News to provide expert commentary about the papal transition and was a frequent guest in their studios and on the network’s Sunday morning public affairs show “Face the Nation.” He also did print and radio interviews for Time Magazine and Voice of America.

John Grabowski, associate dean and associate professor, theology and religious studies, did an interview with Reuters about the ambiguity surrounding Pope John Paul II’s theological position on what to do in the event he were incapacitated and being kept alive with medical technology.   He also was interviewed about the role of women in the Catholic Church in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s election for an article in the Chicago Tribune.

Dean Hoge, professor, sociology, provided interviews related to the papal transition and its implications for issues affecting American Catholics. He spoke with National Public Radio, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, the Pasadena (Calif.) Star News, the Delaware (Md.) News Journal, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Knight Ridder Tribune News Service, the Cleveland (Ohio) Plain Dealer, the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Post-Gazette, U.S. News and World Report and the Associated Press.

Monsignor Kevin Irwin, Monsignor Walter J. Schmitz Professor of Liturgical Studies, theology and religious studies, served as a commentator on National Public Radio during the hours leading up to Pope John Paul II’s death and during the duration of his funeral. He made many subsequent appearances on NPR to discuss the papal transition, and was a guest expert on various CNN programs. In addition, he gave interviews about the papal transition to WTOP-AM (Washington, D.C.), WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.) and the Associated Press.

Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, assistant professor, canon law, conducted an online chat on the USA Today Web site to discuss the papal conclave. He also gave an interview to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about Pope Benedict XVI.


Rev. Robert Kaslyn, S.J., assistant professor, canon law, did a live interview about the conclave with the WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.) morning show.

Rev. Joseph Komonchak, the John C. and Gertrude P. Hubbard Professor of Religious Studies, theology and religious studies, gave several interviews about Pope Benedict XVI and the legacy of John Paul II. He appeared on “NBC Nightly News,” Fox News Channel and the PBS show “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.” He also gave interviews to Voice of America radio, Newsweek magazine, the Washington Times and the Journal News (Westchester, N.Y.). He also served as a guest expert for an online chat with readers of about the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

Sister Rose McDermott, S.S.J., associate professor of canon law, did a live interview about Pope John Paul II’s views on women in the Church for the WTTG-TV (Washington, D.C.) morning show.

Rev. George McLean, O.M.I., director of CUA’s Center for the Study of Culture and Values, gave an interview about the new pope to Voice of America.

Rev. Francis Moloney, S.D.B, dean, theology and religious studies, and the Katharine Drexel Chair of Religious Studies, gave interviews related to the papal transition to the Philadelphia Inquirer for a story that went out to many other Knight Ridder chain newspapers. He also appeared on Fox News Channel, NBC News and CNBC.

Rev. Mark Morozowich, assistant professor, theology and religious studies, did numerous interviews about the legacy of Pope John Paul II and other issues related to the papal transition. He appeared on several occasions on BBC television. He also appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Fox News Channel, Newschannel 8 (Washington, D.C.), WRC-TV (Washington, D.C.), Al-Hura Arabic television network and Voice of America radio. He also did interviews with The (Delaware) News Journal and the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

Rev. Aniedi Okure, graduate student and research associate, sociology, did interviews about the Catholic Church in Africa with Voice of America radio and CNN.

Kenneth Pennington, the Kelly-Quinn Professor of Ecclesiastical and Legal History, schools of law and theology and religious studies, did interviews about papal history with CNN and the Christian Science Monitor.

Frank Persico, vice president and chief of staff, spoke about being in St. Peter’s Square during Pope John Paul II’s last efforts to wave to the crowd below his residence window with Hearst-Argyle television and local stations Newschannel 8 and WUSA-TV. He also spoke to Newschannel 8 following the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

Rev. Kurt Pritzl, O.P., dean, philosophy, was interviewed about the philosophical and intellectual legacy of Pope John Paul II for ABC’s Internet live radio.

Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., director, campus ministry, was quoted in the Baltimore Sun about the CUA online memorial Web site he developed with Edward Trudeau, manager, research and academic applications development, CPIT, to memorialize Pope John Paul II.

Stephen Schneck, chair and associate professor, politics, gave interviews about political issues related to the papal transition to the Chicago Tribune and the Dallas Morning News, in stories that both appeared in many other papers across the country. He also spoke to the Detroit Free Press and Bloomberg News.

Leslie Woodcock Tentler, professor, history, and director of the Center for American Catholic Studies, did interviews about the views of American Catholics and what direction they may want a new pontiff to take the Church. She was interviewed by the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Bloomberg Radio’s “Simply Put” program, Gannett News Service and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Monsignor Robert Trisco, professor emeritus, theology and religious studies, gave an interview to WTOP-AM about Pope John Paul II’s legacy and meaning for churchgoers. He also spoke about the papal transition with the Washington Post.


David Walsh, professor, politics, wrote a guest column about Pope John Paul II’s legacy for Our Sunday Visitor.

Rev. James Wiseman, associate professor of theology and religious studies, gave an interview to The Denver Post about ecumenical issues facing the Church and how Pope Benedict XVI is expected to handle them.

CUA students John Meehan, Steven Garofano, Lisa Opdyke, Danielle Olsen, Michael Jacobeen and Jenifer Nawrocki attended a taping of ABC’s Sunday morning news program “This Week” with host George Stephanopoulos, where they were on a panel with Georgetown University students to discuss what youth in the Church would be looking for from a new pontiff.

John Meehan also was quoted in an Associated Press article about the reaction of young people to the pope’s decline in health. The article ran in several papers across the United States. He also gave an interview to WJLA-TV (Washington, D.C.) about students gathering to watch the funeral of Pope John Paul II on campus.

A group of CUA students gave written comments for a Washington Post article about what the election of Pope Benedict XVI meant to them. The students included: Amanda Griffiths, Philip Weldon, Patrick Hamrock, Meghan Nigborowicz, John Murphy, Ellen J. Hermanson, Kevin Slattery, Andrew Gunderson, Maggie Leyden and Leia DiCocco.

CUA In the News


Binh Tran, associate professor of biomedical engineering, was featured in a March 10 Catholic Herald (Madison, Wis.) article about technology’s impact on health care for senior citizens. 

Modern Languages

Jean-Michel Heimonet, professor, appeared on the April 14 Voice of America TV program “Washington Forum” and discussed U.S. foreign policy, recent appointees to President George W. Bush’s administration and potential United Nations reforms.


Murry Sidlin, dean, participated in a studio interview on the April 11 WUSA-TV (Washington, D.C.) program “Morning Show” in which he offered a preview of CUA’s 2005 President’s Concert “Waging Peace: Music in Time of War,” a four-part series that ran April 14 to 17. The Baltimore Sun ran a full-page preview of the concert with photos on April 14.

Sidlin was featured April 18 in the Washington Post’s laudatory review of the series’ April 16 performance titled “Songs of the Forgotten War,” and was mentioned in the Arlington (Va.) Catholic Herald’s April 21 review of the concert.

Sidlin, Grayson Wagstaff, associate professor, Tom Pedersen, lecturer, and Jane Pesci-Townsend, lecturer, were mentioned in the Arlington (Va.) Catholic Herald’s April 7 preview of the President’s Concert.

Public Affairs

Anne Cassidy, senior writer, was featured in an April 10 Washington Post article about working parents who transition from home to the office as their children grow older.


A study conducted by Dean Hoge, professor, was featured in an April 21 Catholic News Service article. The study found that the 2005 ordination class in the United States reflects an increase in the number of older and better-educated priests and an increase in the number of those born in foreign countries.

Theology and Religious Studies

John Grabowski, associate professor, participated in an April 1 interview on the WDTW-AM (Detroit) program “Nancy Skinner Show” and discussed the Terri Schiavo case.

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Last Revised 14-Jul-05 10:19 AM.