Newsman makes news as Navarro-Valls resigns

After 22 years at the helm of the Vatican Press Office covering the bulk of John Paul II's pontificate, Spaniard Joaquin Navarro-Valls has resigned and will be succeeded by the present director of Vatican Radio and Television, Fr Federico Lombardi.

The Vatican Information Service announced in a statement yesterday that Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Vatican spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who turns 70 in November, from the Vatican Press Office.

The journalist and medical doctor said in a statement that he was pleased the Pope had accepted his "oft-expressed readiness to leave" the post and that he felt he received much more than he had been able to give to his job over the years.

Dr Navarro-Valls will be replaced by Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, currently director general of the Vatican Television Centre and of Vatican Radio, posts he will continue to hold in his new office.

In a letter to Vatican accredited journalists Fr Lombardi thanked the Pope and other Vatican officials "for the trust they place in me" and expressed appreciation for the work Dr Navarro-Valls carried out with such "exceptional ability, intelligence and dedication."

"I cannot pretend to imitate him [Dr Navarro-Valls]," Fr Lombardi explains, "but you can count on my dedication, with my limits but with all my available energy, in serving the Holy Father and your good work."

According to Catholic News Service, the appointment of 63-year-old Italian Fr Lombardi not only puts a religious journalist at the helm of the Vatican press office; it also marks another reorganisation of Vatican offices under Pope Benedict.

The Italian Jesuit will remain as general director of Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre as he heads the Vatican press office, thereby merging the leadership and coordination of these three media outlets.

Fluent in Italian, German, French and what he described as passable English, Fr Lombardi was born in northern Italy near Turin in 1942.

After he became a Jesuit priest in 1972, he worked for the influential Jesuit-run magazine, La Civilta Cattolica, and served as superior of the Jesuits' Italian province.

He was named program director of Vatican Radio in 1991 and was appointed general director of the radio in 2005 by Pope Benedict. He became general director of the Vatican television station, CTV, in 2001.

Navarro-Valls, who is a medical doctor by training, an author of books on the family and fluent in several languages, was appointed in 1984 by the most media-conscious pontiff in history, Pope John Paul II.

In naming Navarro-Valls his spokesman, Pope John Paul chose a professional lay journalist and a Spaniard who was also a member of the influential Catholic organisation Opus Dei.

Fr Lombardi, new Holy See Press Office Director (Vatican Information Service, 11/7/06)
Pope accepts resignation of longtime Vatican spokesman, Navarro-Valls (Catholic World News 11/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Joaquin Navarro-Valls (Wikipedia)
Joaquin Navarro-Valls personal website

Pope could replace media spokesman Navarro-Valls (CathNews 17/2/06)
Vatican spokesman reveals JP2 death media strategy (CathNews 2/5/06)

Pope: Lombardi, Navarro was a great spokesperson (AGI Online, 11/7/06)
Background: the Vatican press office (Catholic World News 11/7/06)

12 Jul 2006