POPE’S FAITHFUL SERVANT
The Holy See’s PR man pontificates, of course. But he does not spin
John Bentley Mays National Post
VATICAN CITY – Going only by the nurnbers, Joaquin Navarro-Valls is a very srnall player in the information business. The srnartly tailored Spaniard is chief spokesrnan for the CEO of a cornpany with only 2,500 ernployees. His office consists of about a dozen assistants. He lives over the store.
But if your boss happens to be Pope John Paul II and your job is to keep some 300 news-gathering agencies up to speed on what the head of the billion-rnernber Catholic Church is doing and saying, your words have a way of travelling very far, very fast.
Navarro-Valls is srnart, srnooth and rnagnetically charrniilg, and ciearly enjoys being all ofthe above. Like John Paul before illness and age began taking their toll, he’s got a knack for leavening high rnoral seriousness with a smile as big as the Ritz. But the Pope was looking for more than smiles when he named Navarro-Valls his director of communications in 1984.
“I think the generai idea was to try to professionalize this place,” he said. “From the very beginning of his pontificate, the curiosity and interest in the media about this Pope was tremendous. If he wanted to respond to this interest, he needed someone he could trust. What was needed at the time was a new approach to all the ways the Holy See was cornrnunicating to the world, especially the media, and that’s the task I took on.”… (.pdf) »»»