On 18 November, the Rafael del Pino Foundation organised a keynote lecture by Joaquín Navarro-Valls entitled "The meaning of human suffering in John Paul II".
Joaquín Navarro-Valls was born in Cartagena and studied at the universities of Granada, Barcelona and Navarra. He holds degrees in medicine, journalism and communication sciences. He followed doctorate courses in psychiatry and was later awarded a scholarship by Harvard University. From 1977 to 1984 he was foreign correspondent for the ABC newspaper in Italy, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Algeria and Turkey. In 1983 he was elected president of the Foreign Press Association in Italy, where he currently lives.
In 1984 he was appointed director of the Holy See Press Office and spokesman for Pope John Paul II. During these years he contributed to modernising the Vatican's information system and played a leading role in the history of the Church, such as his trips to Moscow in 1988 to deliver a personal letter from Pope John Paul II to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and to Havana ten years later to negotiate directly with President Fidel Castro the details of John Paul II's visit to Cuba.
He has been awarded eight honorary doctorates by European and American universities. He currently lectures at universities and is chairman of the Advisory Board of the University Campus Bio-Medico in Rome and president of the Telecom Italia Foundation. He is also a contributor to the Italian daily La Repubblica.