The Boston Globe has hired John Allen to cover the Vatican amid increased reader interest of the Catholic Church under Pope Francis.

john allenThe paper also said it is exploring the launch of a free-standing publication devoted to Catholicism.

Allen, a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter who pens the "All Things Catholic" column, will join the Globe in early February as an associate editor.

He is also a senior Vatican analyst for CNN and author of nine books.

"There is a resurgence of global interest in the Catholic Church, inspired by the words and deeds of the newly installed leader, Pope Francis," said Globe editor Brian McGory.

McGory said the 48-year-old Allen is the most knowledgeable English-speaking reporter on the Vatican, noting "bishops and cardinals call [him] to find out what's going on within the confines of the Vatican."

(Photo: Pew)