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Rome Reports

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Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul II's spokesman, passes away at 80

"One day I received a phone call and I was at work, at my office, 'You have to go for lunch with the pope.' Naturally, I told my secretary: 'Call the Vatican because someone is trying to play a joke on me.' She called and they confirmed that it was true...

I clearly remember at that lunch, that the pope raised the subject of whether I had any idea on how to improve the way of communicating (not about how he should communicate, because he needed no advice, but how the Vatican can communicate universal human and Christian values).

I answered something that seemed good to me. Then, some time passed and the phone call came. The pope has appointed you director of ...

I hesitated for a while before accepting. Immediately after accepting, I said that I wanted to talk to the pope, that I wanted to know what his idea was in depth, what he really wanted... So began that stage of my life that I thought was going to last a couple of years and actually lasted 22 years.

I remember one thing that has helped me many times afterwards. I said, 'Holy Father, this is a very big responsibility for me. It's a subject that can worry anyone.' He told me something that has helped me often in life: 'You cannot do a job well if you only think about responsibility. If you are only thinking about responsibility, then you feel like you are tied up, like locked inside that responsibility.' It was a very wise advice that has helped me many times and I have gained a lot during those 22 years working with him.�