Pope Thanks Vatican Spokesman for 20 Years of Service

Navarro Valls Went From Medicine to Journalism

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 14, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II thanked Joaquín Navarro Valls personally for his 20 years of service as director of the Press Office of the Holy See.



Vatican sources reported that during a private audience today, which was also attended by members of the press office, the Pope gave Navarro Valls, 68, a letter of gratitude addressed personally to him.

The Vatican press office, established in 1966 as the information service of the Second Vatican Council, absorbed L'Osservatore Romano's Office of Information, which had been instituted in 1939.

In keeping with directives approved by John Paul II in 1986, this Vatican organ "is the office of the Holy See in charge of publishing the news that affects the activities of the Supreme Pontiff and of the Holy See."

Within the press office, the Vatican Information Service was instituted in 1990. VIS offers information in particular to papal representations, bishops and institutions on the magisterial and pastoral activity of the Pope and the Holy See.

Navarro Valls is a consecrated member of the Opus Dei Prelature. He was born in Cartagena, Spain, and studied at the universities of Granada, Navarre and Barcelona, obtaining degrees in medicine and surgery in 1961, in journalism in 1968, and in communication sciences in 1980.

After being an assistant professor of medicine from 1962 to 1964, Navarro Valls discovered his passion for journalism and, beginning in 1977, was correspondent of Madrid's ABC newspaper for Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean. While carrying out this work, he was elected president of the Foreign Press Association in Italy.

Since his appointment by John Paul II as director of the Vatican press office, he has been a member of the Holy See's delegations to U.N. international conferences in Cairo (1994), Copenhagen (1995), Beijing (1995) and Istanbul (1996).

Since 1996 Navarro Valls has been president of the administrative council of the Maruzza Lefebvre d'Ovidio Foundation for terminal cancer patients.

Among the professional awards he has received are the Opinion Leader, in 1980; the Calabria award for foreign journalism, in 1984, and the 1997 Communicator of the Year award conferred by Telecom-Italia.