Joaquin Navarro-Valls — a suave, silver-haired Spaniard who was a close confidant of Pope John Paul II and served for more than two decades as chief Vatican spokesman — has died at the age of 80.
Manuel Sanchez, spokesman for the Opus Dei movement in Rome, of which Navarro-Valls was a member, said he died Wednesday after a long illness.
Navarro-Valls was fiercely loyal to John Paul, accompanying the Polish pope on most of his 104 international trips. He also performed delicate diplomatic missions, such as helping to prepare the pope’s historic pilgrimage to Cuba.
Known for his coolness and restraint, Navarro-Valls nearly broke into tears when John Paul was dying in April...