“The heroic virtues of John Paul I will soon be proclaimed,” Stefania Falasca, the vice-postulator of his cause for canonization, announced on August 25, 2017 in an article in the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire. “The congress of theologians has already expressed a positive vote on the question this past June 1. There remains now the vote of the bishops and cardinals, which is expected by the end of the year.”
The news was welcomed with great emotion by the people of Albino Luciani’s hometown, Canale d’Agordo, as they gathered on August 26 for the Mass for the thirty-ninth anniversary of the papal election of the man who is still known to everyone in his native mountain province as “Don Albino. “We are awaiting with confidence further recognition of the heroic way that Luciani practiced the Christian virtues,” Renato Marangoni, the bishop of Belluno, who was the celebrant, told the congregation.
The curia (chancery office) of the diocese of Belluno celebrated the “splendid results” for the cause that was begun almost fourteen years ago, in November 2003, by the then-bishop of the diocese Vincenzo Savio. After a number of years of work, the Positio on Luciani’s virtues was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on October 17, 2016 (his birthday).
Later this year, the bishops and cardinals of the congregation will vote, and if the results are positive, they will be submitted to Pope Francis, who will decide whether to declare Luciani “Venerable.” Many in Canale d’Agordo hope that this declaration will come at the beginning of 2018, the fortieth anniversary of his election.
If one of the miracles under investigation is certified, he might even be beatified towards the end of that year, though the process on a miracle is also a lengthy one: after the diocesan process, a panel of doctors needs to vote on it, as does the congregation.
Many devotees of Papa Luciani, including a dozen priests and all the mayors of the local towns were among the congregation in the newly restored church in Canale d’Agordo. “This is the decisive year,” said the bishop who, turning almost into Luciani’s “fan”, exclaimed “Forza!” (i.e. “go team!”)
At the end of September, Marangoni will lead the people of Belluno and Feltre on pilgrimage to Rome to pray at the tomb of the “Smiling Pope.”
Reporting from Avvenire, August 25, 2017 and Il Corriere delle Alpi, August 27, 2017.