Writer/journalist Francis X. Rocca will join the staff of Catholic News Service as the new chief of the CNS Rome bureau, succeeding John Thavis, who will retire next month.

A native of Washington, Rocca has been a working journalist based in Italy since 1999. Most recently, he was the Vatican correspondent for the Washington-based Religion News Service, and he is a regular contributor and a columnist at The Wall Street Journal.

“Frank Rocca brings solid experience and knowledge to the important position of Rome bureau chief. Catholic News Service’s hundreds of publishing clients depend on it for in-depth and incisive reporting on the Vatican. Mr. Rocca will continue seamlessly the quality of our bureau’s work,” said Tony Spence, CNS director and editor-in-chief.

As Rome bureau chief, Rocca will lead a staff of six that covers daily the activities of Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia. The bureau also reports on global issues that affect the church and society.

“There’s no more fascinating or complex beat in journalism than the Vatican, and no outlet covers it nearly as thoroughly as CNS,” Rocca said. “It’s both a privilege and a challenge to succeed John Thavis in managing such a first-rate journalistic team.”

Rocca has reported for Religion News Service since 2007. He has been a frequent contributor to the Books, Taste, Leisure and Arts sections in the U.S. edition and to the editorial pages of the European and Asian editions of The Wall Street Journal since 1995. Currently, he writes the “European Life” column from Rome, every four weeks in the WSJ European edition.

He is a past correspondent for The Chronicle of Higher Education, where he covered Italian, Spanish and other Mediterranean universities. He also was managing editor of The American Spectator.

Rocca is the author of two books. In 2005, he co-authored with U.S. ambassador to the European Union Rockwell Schnabel, “The Next Superpower?”, an examination of the growing global influence of Europe. He also is the author of the 1991 book, “Fodor’s Virginia and Maryland.”

Rocca has been published in numerous periodicals in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. He holds a doctorate from Yale University, where he was a Fulbright scholar.



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