Alum Shares Her Experience Interviewing Pope Francis

Katia Lopez-Hodoyan ’98 has lived in Rome, Italy for the last four years working for ROME REPORTS TV News Agency. She covers news about the Church and the Pope for an international audience.

On June 6, 2015, Katia and about 60 other journalists flew with Pope Francis on the papal plane from Rome to Bosnia-Herzegovina to cover the international visit. Only Katia and two other journalists were lucky enough to ask questions directly to the Pope. In keeping with her CSJ-based education, which focuses on service to the “dear neighbor,” Katia took her opportunity to ask the Pope about finding a balance between life and service to others and the time spent with technology.

“The Pope holds a press conference onboard the flight, as the papal plane heads back to Rome,” Katia said. “Journalists are divided into groups depending on their language. I was chosen to represent Spanish-speaking journalists on flight. My question dealt with an off the cuff speech he gave to hundreds of youths in Sarajevo. His speech focused on striking the right balance between life and the Internet.”

Katia Lopez Hodoyan: You spoke in some detail to the young people, in your last talk, about the need to exercise much care in what they read and what they see (on TV and in the computer). Could you elaborate a little more on this concept?

POPE FRANCIS: There are two different things: the practice itself and the contents. As far as modalities, there is an element that can do harm to the soul and that is- being too attached to the computer. This harms the soul and takes away freedom; one becomes a slave of the computer. It’s interesting that in many families, fathers and mothers tell me that when they’re at table with the children, they are on the cellular phones and in another virtual world. It’s true that virtual language is something we cannot ignore; it’s progress for humanity. But when it takes us away from the family, from social life, from sport, from art, and we remain attached to it, then for sure it is a psychological illness.

Katia said it’s a combination of excitement and nervousness to be in the presence of the Pope.

“I’ve had the chance to cover presidential audiences between the Pope and heads of state in the Vatican’s papal office…still, it never gets old.”

Even as she works in Rome covering news about the Church and the Pope, and throughout her successful career, Katia hasn’t forgotten the skills she learned at OLP.

“I learned the importance of service at OLP. It’s a theme Pope Francis reiterates constantly,” Katia said. “Without a doubt, my speech class at OLP has helped me tremendously throughout my career. To this day, I still stop myself whenever I feel the urge to say ‘umm,’ ‘like,’ or ‘you know’ in my TV reports. The Catholic education I received at OLP was instrumental in being where I am today.”