Reason. Faith. Service.
Inside CUA - The Catholic University of America Online Newspaper
Notables CUA in the Media Archives Contact Us Home
Click here for printable version
July, 2019

As Pope’s Visit Draws Near, Media Looks to CUA Experts

By Maggie Master

Holger Zaborowski

In anticipation of Pope Benedict XVI’s April 17 visit to CUA’s campus, university officials looked to assemble a group of papal experts to assist the media as it covers the trip, as well as to help the CUA community learn more about the Holy Father, his mission and CUA’s unique and long-standing relationship with the Vatican.

They didn’t need to look far. About 20 CUA scholars include some detailed examination of the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI among their areas of study. Their topics of research range from the pope’s writings to his focus on stewardship of natural resources to how his views on marriage, sex and family compare to previous papacies. This group of papal experts bridges several schools and disciplines within the CUA community and includes scholars in the fields of law, theology and philosophy. For the complete list of CUA papal experts, visit

Assistant Professor of Philosophy Holger Zaborowski has been a student of the pope since reading the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity several years ago.

“It is still one of the really interesting, comprehensive introductions to Christianity,” Zaborowski says, adding that he considers it a classic among such works. The philosophy professor found the cardinal’s writing so compelling and well crafted that after the cardinal was elected pope in 2005, Zaborowski co-edited a compilation of the pontiff’s early sermons and speeches, entitled Benedict XVI. Who Helps Us Live? He has since published two similar compilations, Credo for Today and Love, the latter dedicated to Benedict XVI’s writings as pope, including what Zaborowski describes as some of his “most accessible, yet representative” sermons. First published in German, the books have since been translated into Italian, Spanish and English.

Helen Alvaré, associate professor of law, is currently working on a book about Pope Benedict’s and Pope John Paul II’s views on women, marriage and family issues. Alvaré says the book has been gestating for about a decade, starting in the form of her “taking notes in the margins of airplane magazines.” She was able to begin the manuscript in earnest on sabbatical last fall. “An American Catholic Feminist Learns to Love the Pope,” the book’s tentative title, is not a memoir, says Alvaré, but a reflection on the two popes’ work in juxtaposition with Alvaré’s and other women’s personal witness and observations. She is halfway through the writing process, and has spent the last nine months poring over speeches, interviews, books and apostolic letters written by the two heads of the Church. She also recently gave an interview to Fox News about Pope Benedict XVI’s impending visit.

Rev. Paul McPartlan, Carl J. Peter Professor of Systematic Theology and Ecumenism, is a participating member in several international dialogues on theology, including the International Theological Dialogue, which until 2005 was headed by Cardinal Ratzinger. Father McPartlan’s fields of expertise are ecumenism and the study of eucharistic ecclesiology (an understanding of the Church based on the Eucharist), both subjects that Pope Benedict XVI has long advocated. He is making himself available to talk to the media on these topics.

Father O’Connell was a frequent media guest during the papal transition in 2005. The upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI promises much the same, if not more, media interest.

CUA’s president, Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., was a fixture on CNN, ABC and PBS at the time of the papal transition in 2005, but that may have been only a warm-up to the deluge of media requests anticipated as the date of the papal visit draws near. Father O’Connell has been busy giving interviews since the pope’s visit was first announced last November, speaking on subjects such as the planning for the pope’s visit and what invited guests can expect from the pontiff’s address on campus.

“His address is likely to be connected with Catholic education in the United States at all levels,” said Father O’Connell in a December interview with the National Catholic Register. “Our hope is that he will give all those involved in Catholic education a very encouraging and supportive address to continue their mission.”

If recent history is any guide, CUA experts may once again be ubiquitous on the airwaves.

“We are truly blessed to possess individuals in our administration and faculty who are not only knowledgeable but also articulate and media savvy,” says Victor Nakas, associate vice president for public affairs. “During the 2005 papal transition, if you watched TV news or listened to National Public Radio regularly, you couldn’t help but notice CUA experts: Father O’Connell on CNN, Monsignor Irwin [dean of CUA's School of Theology and Religious Studies] on NPR, and Professor Alvaré on ABC, among others. This time we not only have the experts to offer, our institution is also one of the main venues for the pope's visit. We're anticipating intense media interest in CUA.”

Back to Top

Last Revised 29-Feb-08 09:18 AM.