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CNSROME-ROCCA Dec-6-2011 (470 words) With photo to come. xxxn

Rocca to succeed Thavis as chief of CNS bureau in Rome

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic News Service announced Dec. 6 that Francis X. Rocca will join its staff as the new chief of the CNS Rome bureau. He will succeed John Thavis, who will retire Jan. 31.


Rocca (CNS/Chris Warde-Jones)

Rocca, a native of Washington, 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 people who cover 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 in a statement. "It's both a privilege and a challenge to succeed John Thavis in managing such a first-rate journalistic team."

Rocca has reported for RNS since 2007. He has been a frequent contributor to the Books, Taste, and 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 Journal's 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-wrote with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Rockwell Schnabel "The Next Superpower?" -- which examines the growing global influence of Europe. He also is the author of the 1991 book "Fodor's Virginia and Maryland."

He has been published in numerous periodicals in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Rocca was educated at Harvard University, and he holds a master's from St. John's College and a doctorate from Yale University, where he was a Fulbright scholar.

Thavis joined CNS in 1983, and he has been Rome bureau chief since 1996. He is one of the most respected journalists covering the Vatican today. He is a past president of the Association of Journalists Accredited to the Vatican. In 2007, he received the St. Francis de Sales Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Catholic Press Association of the U.S. and Canada.

Thavis will retire to his native Minnesota, where he will continue to write.

END


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