Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Papal Death in a Media Age

Here's something that would be amazing in fulltext: the Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls went in-depth on the communications prep laid out for John Paul's death.

Of course, this world exclusive took place at last week's media conference at Santa Croce, Rome's Opus Dei university. Navarro is a numerary of the personal prelature.
The papal spokesman said that as early as the year 2000 the Vatican had made plans to deal with the thousands of journalists expected to converge on Rome for a papal death and conclave.

The plan included an expanded accreditation office, round-the-clock press office services, a second press center and video feeds of all briefings.

"The question was: When to activate all this? As soon as we would have announced that the press office was staying open 24 hours a day, Rome would have filled up with every journalist in the world. We didn't want to uselessly create an alarm," Navarro-Valls said.

In the end, the press office enacted the emergency plan two days before the pope died, immediately after he went into septic shock and doctors said death was imminent....

"We tried to imagine, but we never imagined anything like this," he said.

Navarro-Valls said Pope Benedict XVI has a similar appreciation for the media, but also a clear idea of the media's limits. He said he had met the previous day with the pope for nearly an hour, discussing the importance of the media.
And what of his (widely buzzed-about) future?
Navarro-Valls hinted that he had also discussed with the pope his own plans after 22 years as papal spokesman, but said it was not yet time for an announcement. Many observers expected the spokesman to retire after the papal transition period.

"The Holy Father knows well what my desires are, and I know well what are the desires of the Holy Father," Navarro-Valls said with a laugh.
"Not yet time for an announcement"? Seems to mean that no announcement is necessary for what's already common knowledge, eh?

The big tipping point is this: could the Dopo-Navarro be a laywoman? .... Keep an eye.