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Pope John Paul I, 'the smiling pope,' on path to sainthood

The Catholic Church would be dramatically different today had he lived

Had Pope John Paul I not died in 1978, the Roman Catholic Church may not been in such dire straits today. He served for only 33 days, but Pope Francis praised him as a shepherd as he elevated him to the role of beatified, one step short of sainthood.

In reality, JPI and Francis are kinsmen, and the latter praised him last week,

“He embodied the poverty of the disciple, which is not only detachment from material goods, but also victory over the temptation to put oneself at the center, to seek one's own glory" as he followed the example of Jesus and was "a meek and humble pastor” …

"With a smile, Pope John Paul managed to communicate the goodness of the Lord. How beautiful is a church with a happy, serene and smiling face, a church that never closes doors, never hardens hearts, never complains or harbors resentment, does not grow angry or impatient, does not look dour or suffer nostalgia for the past," the pope said.

"Let us pray to him, our father and our brother, and ask him to obtain for us 'the smile of the soul'" that is "transparent, that does not deceive," Pope Francis said. "Let us pray, in his own words, 'Lord take me as I am, with my defects, with my shortcomings, but make me become what you want me to be.'"

Carol Glatz, “Blessed John Paul I, 'the smiling pope,' showed God's goodness, pope says,” Catholic News Service, September 4, 2022

Oh, how I yearned to see him carry out the precepts of Vatican II. Instead, we had a pope who did his best to destroy those reforms.

“Protege of John XXIII”

I wrote a little about Cardinal Albino Luciani a few years ago,

Albino Luciani

Cardinal Albino Luciani was a protege of the late Pope John XXIII, who had called the Vatican II sessions in order to bring the church into the 20th Century. He was the archbishop of Venice, and he was very popular among the people. When named, he was called “The Smiling Pope,” and he was welcomed by so many Catholics,

On the fourth ballot, the name of the patriarch of Venice, Albino Luciani, received a significant majority of votes.

So it was on the evening of August 26th when the announcement of his election was given to a crowded St. Peter's Square and his choice of name, John Paul I made known. He quickly became known as the smiling pope. But his residency in Rome was to be brief for, 33 days later, on September 28th, this quiet, reserved man died of a heart attack. He was found in his bed on the morning of the 29th, his book, the Imitation of Christ, still open and the bedside light still on.

The second pope of 1978 had been taken by the Lord.

His funeral on October 4th was celebrated by Cardinal Confalonieri who spoke of John Paul as "a flashing comet who briefly lit up the Church". Yes, his papacy was brief but in so many ways it indicated the path that Francis would tread many years later.

Chris McDonnell, La Croix International, August 11, 2021

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