07/11/2006, 00.00
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Fr Federico Lombardi replacing Joaquin Navarro at Vatican Press Office

The new director remains in charge of Vatican Radio and TV. He wrote for 'Civiltà Cattolica' and led Italian Jesuits. Today he sent a letter to Vatican-accredited journalists.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Holy See has a new point man to the world media. Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr Federico Lombardi as director of the Vatican Press Office, replacing Joaquín Navarro-Valls who is leaving the post after 22 years. Deputy Director Fr Ciro Benedettini is staying on.

Born in Saluzzo, in the Italian region of Piedmont, on August 29, 1942, Father Lombardi comes to the press office from Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre, which he will continue to head. Previously he wrote for and was deputy director of the prestigious Civiltà cattolica review. He also was Jesuit provincial for Italy.

He has a degree in mathematics and licenciates in philosophy and theology. Reserved but a decisive and brilliant man, Father Lombardi has been a journalist for much of his professional life, except for the period 1984-1990 when he led Italian Jesuits. As a journalist he followed the activities of John Paul II, accompanying him in many of his trips. He has done the same for Benedict XVI since his election to the papacy.

In the first act in his new post he wrote a letter to all journalists Vatican accreditation. In it he says, among other things: "Like you I have been working for quite some time to make the activities of the Holy Father better known and understood in an objective and adequate way. Dr Navarro-Valls has carried out his long service in this domain with exceptional ability, intelligence and dedication. And we are all deeply grateful to him for this and shall continue to rely on his friendship."

"I cannot pretend that I can imitate him, but you can count on my commitment, with my limitations but also my strengths, to serve the Holy Father and you in your work."

"I know that I can count on the collaboration of the press office personnel which they will certainly offer with generosity to me and you, beginning with Deputy Director and friend Fr Ciro Benedettini".

"I ask you," Father Lombardi writes, "for your benevolence so that the journey we share will be more fruitful."

Finally, by way of conclusion, "I entrust these sentiments to the Lord on the liturgical recurrence of Saint Benedict, a day perhaps not coincidentally in which I receive my new tasks". (FP)


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