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Grande Phil

With Reuters friends in every country that he visited with one pope or another (and it is most countries on the planet), Phil Pullella will be much missed on his retirement. The first US reporter ever to interview a pope, he is rightly known and respected as an outstanding “Vaticanista” or expert journalist on the affairs and machinations of the Catholic Church. He even has a Vatican knighthood to prove his credentials.

But there is so much more to Phil than the Vatican. His knowledge of Italian politics, culture, quirks and cuisine is unparalleled in Reuters, built upon more than four decades of service to the Baron and his upbringing in a Calabrian family in lower Manhattan.

Above all, he embodies what it means to be a Reuters journalist - selfless, committed to a fault and the consummate team player. I had two postings to Rome during my Reuters career, in the 1980s and then in the 1990s. Both times, Phil was generous with his advice, insight and support, as he has been with every colleague who has passed through the bureau, mentoring many and nurturing nascent talent.

I learned also from Phil that the only way to navigate Rome and not have it take all day is on two motorised wheels. I can’t see Phil slowing down as he takes his leave of the Baron, on or off his “motorino”, and I wish him and his family every happiness. ■