Rome Retrospective: Bill Balleza back to cover the Vatican

By Bill Balleza - Anchor, Debbie Strauss - Special Projects Producer

Bill Balleza with KPRC2 photojournalist Byron Nichols in Rome, Italy, on Feb. 20, 2019.

ROME - KPRC2's Bill Balleza is back in Italy for his fourth assignment to the home of the Catholic Church in the past 14 years. His reporting from Rome has involved great joy and great sadness for the church and its 1.7 million Catholics in the Houston area. This assignment involves something different. It involves scandal, and perhaps the biggest challenge the modern church has ever faced. 

They say all roads lead to Rome, the Eternal City. For us the road here began on April 2, 2005, the day Pope John Paul the second took his final breath. 

It was a day of great sadness for Roman Catholics the world over. In St. Peter's Square that night, as in Houston and every corner of the Globe, Catholics were mourning the loss of the most popular and loved pope in the history of the modern church. 

We were here from the night John Paul died, until the day he was buried seven days later. 

The successor to John Paul, Pope Benedict, calling forth Cardinal Daniel DiNardo from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. From the chair of Peter, Pope Benedict declares DiNardo, a cardinal, a prince of the church. 

The elevation of DiNardo to cardinal, acknowledges the importance of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. We were in Rome again, this time to record a time of joy for Houston Catholics. 

The road led back to Rome in 2013. Pope Benedict had abdicated. DiNardo, and the Roman Catholic "College of Cardinals," had elected a new church leader -- Pope Francis, the first Hispanic pope in history. 

Six years later, the road to Rome is paved in scandal. Pope Francis has summoned DiNardo, and church leaders from all over the world, for the most important mission they will ever face. A mission to protect the world's children from Catholic clergy. 

No one knows what the Holy Father is thinking right now. 

"It is a beginning. It is a statement to everyone in a very quick intense fashion wants everybody to know he wants us to do this," DiNardo said. "He gets it. He knows. But now it's to make sure everyone else gets it with him."

What happens at the summit is uncertain but one thing the cardinal knows for sure is that a four-day meeting is not about to resolve the very problems that threaten the foundation of the church. 

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