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Joaquin Navarro-Valls, former Vatican spokesman, dies of cancer


  • Joaquin Navarro-Valls is seen during the 1992 renovation of the Vatican press office. Navarro-Valls, who directed the press office for 22 years, died July 5. (CNS/John Thavis)
  • Joaquin Navarro-Valls is pictured in an undated photo. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who headed Vatican press office 22 years, died July 5. (CNS/Tom Lorsung)
  • Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as director of the Vatican press office from 1984-2006, speaks during a Vatican press conference in this 2014 file photo. He died July 5. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
  • Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who spent 22 years as director of the Vatican press office, died July 5 at age 80. He is pictured speaking in 2004 alongside a projected image of St. John Paul II. (CNS photo/Arne Dedert, EPA)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who spent 22 years as director of the Vatican press office, died at home in Rome July 5 at age 80 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

The current director of the Vatican press office, Greg Burke, announced his death in a tweet.

In a statement to Catholic News Service, Burke said he did not always agree with Navarro-Valls, but his predecessor "always behaved like a Christian gentleman -- and those can be hard to find these days."

"Joaquin Navarro embodied what Ernest Hemingway defined as courage: grace under pressure. I got to know Navarro when I was working for Time, and the magazine named John Paul II Man of the Year. I expected to find a man of faith, but I found a man of faith who was also a first-class professional."

Burke said he remembered watching Navarro-Valls closely during the 1994 U.N. International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, which Burke described as "one of the best examples of what Pope Francis calls ideological colonization. It was fascinating to see someone who was defending the faith, but he wasn't on the defensive. He was leading the fight."

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, who succeeded Navarro-Valls as Vatican press director beginning in 2006, remembered him as a "master in the way he carried out his service."

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