- John L. Allen, Jr.
John L. Allen, Jr. (born 1965) is a
journalistwho specializes in newsabout the Roman Catholic Church. He is senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, an independent weekly, and the Vatican analyst of CNNand NPR.
Allen grew up in Kansas. Both his grade school and his high school (
Thomas More Prep-Marian) were located in Hays, Kansasand run by the Capuchin Franciscans. Allen graduated high school in 1983. [http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/word090806.htm#six and http://student.tmp-m.org/Alumni/Monogram/December2004.pdf] He received a master's degree in religious studies from the University of Kansas. For several years, Allen taught journalism and oversaw the student-run newspaper, "The Knight", at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California.
During the coverage of the death of
Pope John Paul II, Allen frequently appeared on CNN. He is now the Vatican analyst for CNN and for NPR. He also delivers lectures which discuss Vatican issues and his latest works.
John Allen and his wife Shannon live in Denver, Colorado.
Perhaps Allen's best-known work is his weekly column about Vatican affairs "The Word from Rome." This column appears in the print and online versions of the "
National Catholic Reporter", a publication Allen has worked for since 1997.
In addition to this column and occasional other pieces for "NCR", Allen's journalistic work has been published in "
The New York Times", " CNN", " NPR", " The Tablet", "Jesus", " Second Opinion", "The Nation", the "Miami Herald", " Die Furche", and the " Irish Examiner".
He is the author of several books, including two on
Pope Benedict XVI, one written when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and one written after his election, as well as a book on Opus Dei. They were published by Double Day, Random House.
Allen is one of the few Catholic journalists respected by Catholics of both "liberal" and "conservative" persuasions. [ "e.g.", cite web | last = Stern | first = Amy | url = http://www.pewforum.org/events/?EventID=173 | title = The Pope Comes to America | date = 2008-04-01 | accessdate= 2008-04-09 | publisher = The Pew Forum on Religion & Public life "... now you know why I was not exaggerating some years ago when I said that John Allen is the best English-language Vatican reporter in history." -
Writings on the Vatican
In 2000, Allen published a biography "Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith". Several reviewers criticized this book for being biased, since it very often took an anti-Ratzinger stance. Joseph Komonchak, for example, called his writing "Manichaean journalism." [ [http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php?id_article=1214&recalcul=oui Commonweal - A review of religion, politics and culture ] ] After some examination, Allen concluded that these criticisms were valid. As a result, in his next biography of the same man, "The Rise of Benedict XVI: The Inside Story of How the Pope Was Elected and Where He Will Take the Catholic Church" (2005), Allen tried to be fair to all sides and viewpoints. Allen acknowledged that his first book was "unbalanced" because it was his first book, and it was written, he says, "before I arrived in Rome and before I really knew a lot about the universal church." The book "gives prominent voice to criticisms of Ratzinger; it does not give equally prominent voice to how he himself would see some of these issues." [ [http://www.beliefnet.com/story/172/story_17241_1.html Vatican correspondent John Allen on Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church papal interfaith liberal conservative Latin - Beliefnet.com ] ]
Kenneth L. Woodward, former religion editor for "
Newsweek", wrote in 2005: "Outside of the North Korean government in Pyongyang, no bureaucracy is harder for a journalist to crack than the Vatican's. And no one does it better than John L. Allen Jr. ... In just three years, Allen has become the journalist other reporters--and not a few cardinals--look to for the inside story on how all the pope's men direct the world's largest church." According to the London "Tablet", Allen is "the most authoritative Vatican writer in the English language."Fact|date=July 2008
Work on Opus Dei
Allen stated that one of his reasons for writing "" (2005) was that he felt that liberal and conservative Catholics were too often shouting at each other, and he hoped that a book that tried to be fair to all sides would lead to civilized discussion rather than rancor. A writer who works hard to achieve an objective perspective in his writing, Allen has been called by John Romanowsky of "
Godspy" as having an objectivity that is "maddening." His work on Opus Dei, a very difficult, controversial topic, has been called "definitive" by many, and even "fair" by both sides of the debate.Fact|date=July 2008
His harshest critic was Damian Thompson of the "
Catholic Herald", who, after saying that his "column is a byword for objectivity," said that Allen "applied a daub of whitewash," because Allen did not interview the senior critic of Opus Dei in Britain, Monsignor Vladimir Felzmann. Allen later said that he did spend much space in the book analyzing Felzmann's statements versus the testimonies of other people. (See Opus Dei and politics). Thompson also said that Allen only saw what Opus Dei showed him. Thompson agreed with Allen though in several points: "Opus Dei is not as black as it is painted," Escriva "anticipated the reforming spirit of the Second Vatican Council," "there is nothing very shocking" about the survival of corporal mortification," and that charges that Opus Dei is "financially corrupt and politically far to the Right," are "years out of date." Another critic is Peter McDermott who still called Allen "respected Rome correspondent." His main point is that Allen "doesn't explore the idea that maybe Opus Dei itself is two different realities." Peter Duffy of the Jesuitpaper, "America Magazine", also called him "respected" but said that Allen bent over backwards to explain the harshest criticisms of Opus Dei. [ [http://www.americamagazine.org/BookReview.cfm?articletypeid=31&textID=4495&issueID=551 America | The National Catholic Weekly ] ]
Two journalists called it "widely considered the definitive book" on Opus Dei. One is Martha Teichner of CBS, a four-time Emmy award winner, [ [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/04/30/sunday/main1561631.shtml Behind The Shroud Of Opus Dei, Martha Teichner Gives An Inside Look At The Controversial Catholic Group - CBS News ] ] , and the other is Mary Nersessian of CTV.ca News Staff. [ [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060505/opus_dei_feature_060505/20060508/ CTV.ca | Decoding Opus Dei: Fighting fiction with fact ] ]
Piers Paul Readof " The Daily Telegraph" called Allen's work on Opus Dei "a dispassionate assessment...definitive, persuasive and absorbing." [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2005/10/23/boall23.xml You can trust them to sell you a car - Telegraph ] ] "The Sunday Times" said it is"An admirable book the first stop for anyone interested in Opus Dei." [ [http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0141024658 Synopsis] ] "Time Magazine" called it "most informed and sympathetic" account of Opus Dei. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1184078-1,00.html The Ways of Opus Dei - TIME ] ] Ed Dobeas of Amazon.comsaid it contained "exhaustive research, interviews and careful analysis," and is a "balanced, perceptive inquiry," while " Publishers Weekly" said it is "most informative...exhaustive study," and that Allen's "balanced, even reporting sometimes borders on the clinical." [ [http://www.amazon.com/dp/0385514492/ Amazon.com: Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church: Books: John L. Allen ] ] Fr. Richard John Neuhaus said it is "a candid and careful assessment of what Opus Dei is and isn’t." Christopher Howse says it is a "determinedly unsensationalist but deeply intriguing study." [ [http://www.thetablet.co.uk/cgi-bin/book_review.cgi?past-00255 Book Reviews ] ] Joe Szimhart says: "What he put in should go a long way to explain many facets of the Escrivà movement in Catholicism." Paul Baumann of " Washington Monthly" states: "has earned a reputation for balanced, informed reporting. He does not simply reflect the leanings of the liberal weekly paper that is his primary outlet. Here, that reputation gives credence to much of what Opus Dei members tell him in defending the group's philosophy and practices. In that sense, Allen may be too liberal for his own good."Fact|date=July 2008
Agenzia Giornalistica Italiana (AGI), a major Italian news agency, described his work as having an "empirical approach" and that his book is of "great historical and journalistic interest."Fact|date=July 2008
Books by John Allen:
* "Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith". NY: Continuum, 2000. ISBN 0-8264-1265-3.
* "Conclave: The Politics, Personalities, and Process of the Next Papal Election". New York: Doubleday/Image, 2002, revised 2004. ISBN 0-385-50453-5.
* "All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks". (Hardcover) New York: Doubleday, 2004. ISBN 0-385-50966-9. (Trade Paperback) New York: Doubleday/Image October 2006. ISBN 0-385-50967-7.
* "Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger". NY: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005. ISBN 0-8264-1786-8. This is a reprint of Allen's 2000 book "Cardinal Ratzinger", reprinted under a new title without Allen's permission.
* "The Rise of Benedict XVI: The Inside Story of How the Pope Was Elected and Where He Will Take the Catholic Church". (Hardcover) NY: Doubleday, 2005. ISBN 0-385-51320-8. (Trade Paperback) New York: Doubleday/Image October 2006. ISBN 0-385-51321-6.
* "Opus Dei: An Objective Look Behind the Myths and Reality of the Most Controversial Force in the Catholic Church". NY: Doubleday, 2005. ISBN 0-385-51449-2.
* [http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/word/ The Word from Rome] -- John Allen's column in the "National Catholic Reporter"
* [http://www.newsweek.com/id/60981 The Scoop on the Pope] -- article about Allen by Kenneth Woodward
* [http://www.godspy.com/reviews/Opus-Dei-An-Interview-with-John-Allen-by-John-Romanowsky.cfm Interview with Allen] in which he discusses his Opus Dei book and his views on "liberal/conservative" issues
* [http://www.lecturalia.com/autor/113/john-l-allen John L. Allen in Lecturalia (Spanish)]
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