The day after the death of Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Director of the Holy See Press Office during the pontificate of Saint John Paul II and the beginning of Benedict XVI’s, ZENIT together with Spanish Radio COPE had the opportunity to intercept and talk for a few minutes with Greg Burke, the Vatican’s current spokesman.
Asked by Eva Fernandez about the idea of having to succeed someone like Navarro-Valls, speaking in Spanish Burke did not hide a certain embarrassment: “It’s difficult, because the truth is that Navarro-Valls was very capable in many things, as a professional, as a journalist, the fact that he spoke several languages and from the human point of view. Moreover, he had great pull with people. I was a youth working at Time magazine and I saw that my big bosses who named him Man of the Year were delighted with him, delighted.”
He also pointed out that “it is difficult to follow in his steps because he was revolutionary; he knew how to handle different and difficult interests; being a layman was an advantage but in difficult moments <he> was very skilful and also patient.”
On the fact that Navarro-Valls worked for 22 years with two Popes, etc., Burke said:
“I won’t stay for 22 years, because the work is so much; it is different given the new means of communication and the difficulties 24 hours. Every now and then I say: I wish it was the time of Navarro without mobiles and without the Internet, but clearly with other difficulties. He was a great man in many fields.”
In regard to the changes he made in the Press Office, the current Director of the Press Office said to ZENIT: “He changed the Press Office, first because he was the first layman in the Vatican to assume such a delicate post. Moreover, the times were changing. Suffice it to think that in 1984 there was no Fax. Then Fax arrived and all the rest. In other words, he lived this technological change. He did not get to Instagram and Twitter, but he lived and managed well the Internet revolution.”