Vatican Spokesman Looks Ahead to Stepping Aside

Navarro Valls Aims to Return to Psychiatry

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ROME, JUNE 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The director of the Vatican press office says that he will continue in his post "a while longer, but I still don't know how much longer."



"I will continue until the Pope accepts that a change is good and positive," Joaquín Navarro Valls announced Monday during a Baroque Awards gala.

"At that time, I will return to my first profession, which is so far from the activity I am now engaged in," he explained, as reported by the Veritas agency. Prior to being a journalist, Navarro Valls was a practicing psychiatrist.

The Baroque Awards are conferred on individuals who contribute to the good of the Italian republic.

This year an award went to Navarro Valls on behalf of all the Vatican press office staffers for their service over the last few years when reporting on Pope John Paul II, especially during his final days.

Navarro Valls recalled a press conference on April 1, the day before John Paul II's death.

He said: "When a German fellow reporter asked me that day, 'From the personal point of view, how are you living this?' -- at that moment I felt all my vulnerability.

"I was overwhelmed because I cannot and do not want to forget the 21 years lived so close to the Pope, and seeing him in those days facing with enormous serenity that moment -- which will come to all of us -- the moment he was leaving us."