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In Appreciation: Associated Press Religion Reporter, Rachel Zoll

Earlier this month, the Associated Press (AP), the service that provides news and photos to more than 15,000 news outlets worldwide, announced that its longtime religion reporter Rachel Zoll had died at age 55. This was a loss keenly felt by her family, friends and colleagues, her employer, those who follow religion in the news, and DignityUSA.

On the most complicated and challenging Catholic news stories of the day, Zoll reached out to DignityUSA for comment, showing her respect for the voices of LGBTQI Catholics, particularly when the voice of the Vatican, leading a global church of 1.2 billion Catholics, would otherwise go unanswered on critical issues in our lives – same sex marriage, parenting, violence against LGBTQI people, discrimination against transgender and nonbinary people, and the voices of women in the church.

The AP reported: “Zoll was at the forefront of coverage of two papal transitions, the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, and tensions within many denominations over race, same-sex marriage and the role of women.”

“Over many years, Rachel Zoll’s questions were unfailingly insightful, thoughtful, and reflected the preparation she did before making the call. She really wanted to help people understand the impact that statements or actions had on people’s lives and faith. There was always something unique in her approach to a story. She asked the questions no other reporter did. I always trusted that she would be faithful in conveying DignityUSA’s perspective in her pieces,” said Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke, who was interviewed by Zoll many times.

“It mattered so much to DignityUSA’s public profile to have our leaders quoted in one of Zoll’s articles, not just because of the massive reach of the Associated Press,” said Peggy Hayes, a volunteer who has helped DignityUSA with media relations over the years. “Her articles were fascinating – she revealed the levers of power that religion holds in our society – so that readers could assess those actions for themselves.”

DignityUSA extends its condolences to Zoll’s family, friends and colleagues and its appreciation to the Associated Press and all who knew Rachel Zoll, in honor of her extraordinary career.

Image Credit: Cheryl Zoll via AP