The Rev. Thomas J. Reese chuckles when he recalls the origins of his role as a “go-to” commentator on all things Catholic. Reese, a Jesuit priest and political scientist writing for the Catholic journal America, was covering the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as the group developed a pastoral letter on war and peace in 1983. Inside the press room during down time of the bishops’ meeting, a reporter asked if anyone knew anything about an item on the agenda that day. Reese had read up on that subject a few days earlier and began explaining.
“All of a sudden, everybody had their pens out, taking notes from me,” said Reese, whose Roman collar convinced reporters that he knew quite a bit about Catholicism. “I started to back away and said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m covering this, too.’ ”
Despite his early reluctance, Reese has become one of the media’s most sought-after experts on the inner workings of the Catholic Church. He’s written several books about the hierarchy, including “Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.”
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