By Vatican News
The presentation of the the book “Navarro Valls, El Portavoz” (Navarro Valls – The Spokesman) took place at the Holy See Press Office, which for more than two decades was almost a second home to Joaquin Navarro Valls, who served as the spokesperson for Pope St John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The event featured the book’s editor, Joaquin’s brother, Rafael Navarro Valls; and was chaired by Alessandro Gisotti, director ad interim of the press office. Also present were Fr Ciro Benedettini, former deputy director of the Press Office; Fr Federico Lombardi, Navarro Valls successor and friend; and long-time Vatican correspondent Valentina Alazraki.
A brother and friend of the Pope
Rafael Navarro Valls said his brother was a man “loyal to God, to his vocation, and to the Popes”. He spoke of Joaquin as a charismatic man, “capable of traveling millions of miles, making twenty trips around the world, on more than one hundred voyages”. Rafael described his brother as “elegant under pressure”, describing his great loyalty and his dedication in carrying out the difficult work of a papal spokesperson.
“With him, the Press Office changed pace”
Veteran Vatican journalist Valentina Alazraki, Rome correspondent for media agency Televisa, recalled the charm of Navarro Valls, and spoke about the change in Vatican communications that came about with his appointment as spokesperson. “The great intuition that he had that was indispensable was a direct relationship with the Pope”.
Trust for collaborators
Father Benedettini served as Navarro Valls’ deputy for eleven years. He remembered Navarro Valls’ “ability to make one feel important” and his confidence in his collaborators. “I am not the postulator for his cause for beatification,” Fr Benedettini said, smiling. So, he explained, he also “dwelt on some of his ‘faults’ that in reality show even more the great communicator that he was”.
A landmark of communication
Navarro Valls successor in the direction of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, described his own discomfort in following in the footsteps of “a monument” in the world of communication. “I didn’t want to imitate him – it was impossible – but I followed his model from which I drew lessons”, Fr Lombardi explained. He emphasized in particular the spirituality of Navarro Valls, revealed especially in his travels with the Pope, in his communications during John Paul’s final illness.
Following the book presentation, a commemorative plaque was unveiled in the workspace for journalists, (located next to the main hall at the Holy See Press Office), which will now be known as the “Joaquin Navarro Valls Room”.